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Ivy League football preview for 2012
(Order of finish based on preseason media poll)
Harvard — The defending champion is loaded after an undefeated Ivy League campaign in 2011, returning preseason All-American Kyle Juszczyk, a versatile tight end who had seven touchdowns last season. The Crimson lost starting quarterback Collier Winters and three wide receivers, but the offense has been turned over to senior Colton Chapple.
Penn — Senior quarterback Billy Ragone had the fifth-best offensive season in program history, and returns hoping to give the Quakers more consistency and productivity after a 5-5 season. Senior Brandon Copeland is one of the league’s top defensive linemen.
Cornell — The Big Red return all 11 starters on offense, including Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year Jeff Mathews, who set an Ivy record with 3,412 passing yards, and preseason All-America wide receiver Shane Savage. JC Tretter moved from tight end to tackle and has the potential to become one of the league’s best offensive linemen. Cornell has scored at least 24 points in a school-record eight straight games.
Brown — The dynamic A.J. Cruz is back to lead the secondary, and special teams as one of the nation’s top kick returners. Quarterback Patrick Donnelly returns after missing most of 2011, but saw extensive time in 2010. The Bears lost plenty in the receiving corps due to graduation, but will feature a two-man rushing attack with Mark Kachmer (two-time all-Ivy) and Spiro Theodhosi, who has missed the past two seasons because of injury, but topped the 100-yard mark twice as a sophomore in 2009.
Yale — It’s open competition at quarterback for the Bulldogs after they brought in two freshmen to compete for the starting job under new coach Tony Reno, who comes over from Harvard. Yale’s strength will be on the offensive line. In the backfield, the Bulldogs return Mordecai Cargill and brought in Tyler Varga, a transfer from the University of Western Ontario, where he led Canada in scoring.
Dartmouth — Quarterback Alex Park has drawn rave reviews in spring practices for his leadership and intelligence, but the sophomore is still untested for the Big Green, having appeared in just two games last season. Dartmouth also graduated nine of its 10 All-Ivy players, including All-America running back Nick Schwieger, who led the league with 1,310 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Look for Dominick Pierre to help fill that void in the ground game.
Columbia — Coach Pete Mangurian brings 20 years of NFL experience to his first year with Columbia, hoping to turn around a last-place program. He spent the offseason reevaluating personnel, and has high hopes for a front seven that returns Zach Olinger at middle linebacker. Sean Brackett, an honorable mention All-Ivy selection last season and first team in 2010, returns under center after throwing for 1,831 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Princeton — On the strength of their front seven, including Caraun Reid, Mike Catapano, and Andrew Starks, the Tigers look to turn things around after a 1-9 season. Coach Bob Surace raved about the performance of his offensive skill players, including wideout Seth DeValve, but the big story will be the potential return of 2011 Ivy Rookie of the Year Chuck Dibilio, who suffered a stroke Jan. 19 and has been going through rehab workouts throughout training camp.