The Bellboys of Lowell House, believe it or not, are back for another season. Defying tradition and spitting in adversity's eye, these gallant gridiron gladiators are preparing to shock the Harvard intramural community. This year they will score.
"Not only will we score, but we're gonna beat Kirkland House, and you can write that down," says split end Ted Teele with characteristic exhuberance. And unlike all of his teammates, he knows what it means to cross the goal line.
Teele tallied the most recent Lowell House touchdown--in 1978. Gathering in a pass from then-quarterback Mark Geppert, he scampered more than 50 yards for the big six. Soon therafter, Teele decided to take some time off from school, leaving his squad in something of a lurch.
But Ted has returned to the practice field, catching passes and throwing blocks. His coach, Mike Pontrelli, a recent graduate and former Lowell House linebacker, grins at having the big guy around again. "It's officially the Year of the Point, and we're going to surprise a few people," Pontrelli says confidently.
No one really remembers when Lowell last won, but the 1980 campaign is still a vivid nightmare. In five games, opporients scored 126 points to the Bellboys' doughnut. No one kept too many statistics, but one veteran puts it this way: "I'd say the big goal this season is to get a first down and force the other team to punt."
Pontrelli recalls, "A lot of the players were new and a lot of guys got really beaten up. I'm surprised so many came back." The law student-to-be does not exaggerate; one of the most vivid memories of the fall was a sorry troupe of bandaged athletes limping through the endless dining hall line for more halibut cheese casserole.
Just why Lowell football has been so bad over the years remains a mystery. Other intramural teams are often strong, and the House boasts a uniquely sophisticated, some might say Continental, selfconfidence. But Ted Teele, Mike Pontrelli and the rest of the boys aren't out there to answer questions about the past. It's a matter of manhood from here on in, and they're ready for the challenge.
As many as 22 people have shown up for practices recently, and as a result, Pontrelli won't have to relive one of last year's most embarrassing situations. Playing with exactly 11 men, Lowell House was losing to a powerful Winthrop squad. A Lowell lineman was injured and had to make a deal with his opponent to avoid contact for the rest of the game.
Bret Schundler, now the coach at Winthrop, remembers agreeing not to hit his limping foe. "But then the guy decided one play to rush, I had no choice but to block," Schundler said. Not a pretty sight.
Many of the Bellboys, such as defensive lineman R.G. Solmssen, haven't played football since junior high, but that hasn't dampened spirits. "We're definitely on the comeback; there's really nothing else we could be doing," Solmssen says. He admits that Lowell "won't beat up on too many teams," but he's confident "brilliant plays and determination" will carry the day.
Reviewing basic tackling techniques and the team's famous single-option, don't-look-now offense, Pontrelli has put his team through rigorous practices all week. Though noticeably smaller than players from other Houses, the Bellboys have shown no lack of spirit.
"Yes, the spirit is certainly there. No doubt about it," says lineman Frank Grady, who expressed particular interest in the prospect of Lowell cheerleaders. "We'll have the girls out there this year and a band--probably three or four pieces, mostly horns," he explains.
Support from the fans has never been a problem, Master William Bossert has promised the team bottles of champagne when the ball finally crosses the end line. And senior tutor Chris Jedrey reports that he may attend his first game in he-doesn't-know-how-long. "I hadn't considered it before, but if they're that serious about it, I guess I really ought to go," the American history scholar says enthusiastically.
In short, what Harvard has on its hands is a grass roots football revival, the likes of which Joe Restic can only dream about. Not only will Lowell score this year, but in this reporter's opinion, they will score again, and perhaps even a third time before this thing's over.
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