Football picked to finish second in the Ivy League in preseason poll

by Jehanna Axelrod | 8/20/15 5:17pm

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by Kate Herrington and Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth

When the Ivy League released its 2015 Football Preseason Media Poll on Aug. 11, the Big Green found itself in an unfamiliar place — second on the list. A ranking this high has not been granted to the Big Green since 1996 when they were rated top of the League and eventually went on to win it all. Despite this new ascension to the upper echelon of Ivy rankings, the Dartmouth football team believes that it is destined for even greater heights.

“We’re not really concentrating on that,” co-captain, starting quarterback and College Sports Madness’s Ivy League Preseason Offense Player of the Year Dalyn Williams ’16 said. “We have a big goal which is to win the league. That’s what we’re concentrated on.”

The Big Green nearly achieved that goal last season when it went 9-1 in the Ivy League. The lone loss was against Harvard University, which would go on to win the championship and receive the first place preseason ranking.

Williams said he will not allow the past stats and hollow numbers to get in the way of Dartmouth’s big plans.

“I think last year we missed out on winning, and I think this year, we can do it,” he said.

The team is in prime position to make Williams’s words a reality since many of the Big Green’s core players will be still be suiting up this fall.

“I think we’re returning eight people on defense, nine maybe, and most of the offense is back,” Williams said. “I think with those kind of returning starters you should have big expectations.”

Williams himself is one of these important returners. Last season, he became just the sixth Dartmouth quarterback ever to throw for more than 2,000 yards.

Williams also set the record for highest completion percentage at 67.5 percent. In addition, he threw 21 touchdowns, making him only the second Dartmouth quarterback to throw for more than 20 touchdowns in a season.

“He’s been a dynamic player for us,” head football coach Buddy Teevens ’79 said. “He’s really grown and developed as a passer.”

One of Williams’s favorite weapons, wide receiver and co-captain Ryan McManus ’15, will be taking the field for a fifth season, granted to him after an injury cut his junior season short.

“Over time, you develop a feel for certain people, and Ryan and Dalyn have been together now for four years,” Teevens said. “Those two have something going.”

In order to win a championship, it’s necessary to have a strong defense and Big Green is not lacking in that area either. Many of the team’s top players, including co-captain and CSM’s Ivy League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Will McNamara ’16, will be back to tackle, stuff and intercept opponents for one last season.

“I think on defense it gives us a great advantage to have a lot of guys that have played a lot of snaps and gotten a lot of experience,” McNamara said.

McNamara led the Ivy League in total tackles last season and was voted to the first-team All-Ivy last year.

“[McNamara is] a physical and very cerebral player,” Teevens said. “He understands the game, and he sees things well.”

This combination of talent and experience on both offense and defense also benefits the newer members of the team.

“I expect [the older players] to mentor and to lead some of the younger guys as they go forward,” Teevens said.

The team prides itself on this “team first” mentality, Teevens said.

“Everyone’s competing for a position, but guys are passing information and knowledge to guys that are chasing and potentially taking positions,” Teevens said.

Though the players have a high level of confidence in each other’s abilities, the team does not want to get to far ahead of itself yet. Right now, its motto is “Prove it.”

“We haven’t played anybody yet, so the most important game we have is the [week one] Georgetown [University] game,” Teevens said.

After all, as Teevens often repeats, the only rankings that matter are those released at the end of the season.

This article ran in print on Aug. 21 under the headline "Football picked to finish second in the Ivy League."