This is the third in a series of daily articles describing talent at various Varsity football positions.)
Despite the fact that Saturday's game iin the Stadium has been ballyhoed as a "battle of the backfields", many observers feel it will be decided up front from tackle to tackle.
In beating Rutgers 27-6 last week, Lon Little's Lions chewed some pretty big holes in the Scarlet forward wall, particularly at the left tackle position. It was through there that their running game went for most of its yardage.
Manning that post for the Varsity Saturday will be one Howard Houston. The former Haverhill all-scholastic hasn't lost the touch that won him all-New England honors last season. He still has the characteristic of hunching up his chest pads after every bone-crunching tackle he makes, and his blocks and tackles sound like pistol shots.
A 22-year old married Junior, Howie figures prominently in Coach Valpey's single-wing plans. The Crimson coaching staff intends to capitalize on his speed and blocking ability by using him as a running guard on offense and a tackle on defense. "We could have used him on our first team at Michigan last year," Valpey said after spring practice.
Houston has already been included on several pre-season all-American list. The Saturday Evening Post has him on its three-squad team, along with Columbia's passing whiz Gene Rossides and two other players from the East. Howie still wears the same size hat he wore last year, though.
Around the familiar number "71", Valpey has gathered some hefty men who give the tackle and guard corps considerably more punch than it had last fall. Jack Coan, Ralph "Chief" Bender, and Doug Bradlee are the other three first-stringers as of today.
Coan, a 20-year old 200-pounder, started five games for the informal Varsity team in 1945, but wasn't available for duty last season. Bradlee, former captain at St. Marks, played for Dick Harlow last year, while Bender was a member of the 1947 Freshman team and is one of the few members of that unit new operating for the Varsity.
Churney Emil Drvaric, considered the Bake Ruth of collegiate kick off specialistz, and Nick Rodis are also in the fight for starting posts, as in Will Davis, brother of Harvard's great 1946 tackle Kept out of action last fall by injuries, Bodis checked in at Soldiers Field this month at a trim 205 and appears ready for a good season. Drvaric will probably to most of the kicking off and point after work in addition to his duties in the line.
Other promising tackles and guards include tall Tom Guthrie, 230-pound transfer from Notre Dame who has been ordered to take it easy until fully recovered from oil burns he suffered during the summer; Duke Sedgwick, whose father and grandfather both played football for the Crimson; Bill Rosenau, a member of last year's Freshman team; and Gordon Stensrud, Rocky Stone, Dick Guidera, Skip Garvey, Pete Coyne, and Henry Dunker.