Every fall at Harvard there are certain things you come to expect. Freshmen will flock to the Hong Kong and act like freshmen. Your ID picture will make you look like Marty Feldman. And the Harvard football team will crush the pathetic pussycats known as the Columbia Lions.
The stats are scary. Harvard has been victorious in its last six meetings with the powder blue gridders, and the margin of victory has averaged almost 20 points. In the 43-game history of the Harvard-Columbia series, the Crimson has won more than 75 percent of the contests by a net total of 435 points.
With an illustrious tradition of Lion-slaying behind him, Harvard Coach Joe Restic fears that when his players open the season today at Columbia's Lawrence A. Wein Stadium at Baker Field they might be overconfident. "Psychologically, Columbia has all the things going for it," Restic says, noting that the lopsided tradition "works against us."
One of the few other things working for Columbia is spanking new Coach Jim Garrett and his staff, an aggressive and experienced asset that Restic calls "the one real strength Columbia has."
Harvard, on the other hand, has many real strengths. The Crimson's motto this year--"Speed thrills"--isn't an empty promise. Senior sensation Robert Santiago, who led the Ivies in rushing with over 800 yards a year ago, headlines a supersonic offensive attack that will yely on quickness, not beef. Santiago galloped for 204 yards last year against Columbia, and the Crimson backfield corps of Santiago, speedster Rufus Jones, and junior wingback George Sorbara will be awfully tough for the Lions to cage.
Quarterback Brian White pilots Air Crimson, and although he might experience some turbulence from the Columbia pass rush, he's a good scrambler and an even better playmaker in the complex Multiflex offense. Further, White's passing--which was statistically impressive but somewhat erratic last year--improved in the off-season, and the senior signalcaller has looked sharp in preseason scrimmages.
No less than five Harvard split ends, none of whom has ever caught a varsity pass, could see action today. At tight end, big Jim Morris (6-ft., 3-in., 215-lb.), last year's starting defensive end, will begin his blocking and receiving career.
Defensively, the Crimson have a tough secondary, led by All-American Cecil Cox and senior Ken Tarczy. At linebacker Captain Brent Wilkinson and junior Scott Collins lead a veteran wrecking crew.
Garrett recently called Harvard "the best team in the Ivy League," but in his enthusiasm he may be overlooking some big, size XXXL question marks: the Crimson linemen. Harvard will open the season with almost completely untested offensive and defensive lines, with offensive tackle George Kostakas (6-ft., 2-in., 245-lb.) the only returner. Although some varsity rookies--notably sophomore Greg Williams (6-ft., 4-in., 220-lb.)--have looked good in camp, Columbia may be able to capitalize on Harvard's inexperience.
Restic is clearly worried about his line, and he predicts that Harvard's performance in the trenches will be "the key to the game." For Columbia, three offensive and three defensive starters return from last year's line, including Captain Bill Strack (6-ft., 1-in., 225-lb.) at offensive guard and Wayne Snyder (6-ft., 3-in., 245-lb.) at defensive tackle.
The Columbia offense is traditionally anemic, but this season may be better than most. Quarterback Henry Santos returns from an inconsistent campaign last year, and fullback John Chirico (230 yards last season) is the top returning rusher.
Hotshot split end John Garrett, the coach's son, injured his collarbone and won't see action today, but tight end Mark Milam will try to pick up the receiving slack.
Unfortunately for Columbia, there's a lot of slack to pick up all over the place.
If the Crimson does prevail today, Restic will tie John Yovicsin for the school career wins record of 78. The 15-year mentor would also begin his quest for a fifth Ivy League title, an honor Harvard last won two years ago. Restic is clearly confident: "Going into the season," he predicts, "you have to pick yourself first."
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