Big Green shoots for four wins

by Elliot Olshansky | 11/22/02 6:00am

The 2002 Dartmouth football season has produced a great deal of excitement on the field, with exciting numbers to match. Wide receiver Jay Barnard '04 has caught 74 passes this season, a new Dartmouth single-season record. Free safety Clayton Smith '05 leads the Ivy League with 96 tackles.

However, among all the numbers associated with the Big Green football team (3-6, 2-4 Ivy) this season, one number that stands out among all the rest is No. 5.

Quarterback Brian Mann '02 spent his first three seasons at Dartmouth wearing No. 11, the same number worn by Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler '94 during his Dartmouth career.

According to Mann, the jersey was often more trouble than it was worth. "It was like every time I played well," Mann said, "there was a reporter saying, 'Hey Coach Lyons, remind you of another Number 11 quarterback?' I wanted to make a name for myself."

After trading Fiedler's No. 11 jersey for the No. 5 he wore at Xavieran High School, Mann has indeed made a name for himself during the 2002 season, producing 3,028 yards of total offense this season and becoming the 10th Ivy League quarterback to tally 5,000 career passing yards.

As Mann and his Dartmouth teammates prepare to end the season on Saturday against Princeton (5-4, 3-3 Ivy), the senior from Canton, Mass. is on the verge of making a name for himself by claiming Dartmouth's single-season record for passing yardage. Ironically, in doing so, Mann will surpass the player whose jersey he eschewed.

However, records are the furthest things from Mann's mind as he prepares to play his final game in a Dartmouth uniform. As the Big Green heads to Princeton to attempt to tame the Tigers, "All that it comes down to is that I want to play well for the young guys."

For their part, "the young guys" want to play well for their elders. As Smith said following last week's loss to Brown, when there are "10 guys that stick around out of a class of 30 or 40, you want to send them off right."

For the Big Green players, accomplishing their goals means overcoming a Princeton team that held Yale to three points in last week's game and is looking for its first winning season since 1997.

The Tigers' defensive effort was led by junior linebacker Zak Keasey, whose 77 tackles represent the fifth-highest total in the Ancient Eight, and junior defensive end Joe Weiss, who is second in the league with eight sacks to his name. Along with sophomore defensive back Jay McCareins, who leads the Ivy in interceptions, Mann and the Dartmouth offense have their work cut out for them.

Despite the strength of Princeton's defense, the offense averages a mere 20.9 points a game, which falls short of Dartmouth's 24.1 average score. Still, Dartmouth will need top-notch performances from Mann, Barnard and tight end Casey Cramer '04 to close the season on a winning note.

After being held to three catches last week against Brown, Cramer needs six catches on Saturday to join Barnard as the first pair of Ivy players since 1983 to catch 70 passes each in a season.

Dartmouth will also look for strong performances on the ground from tailback Michael Giles '04 and fullback Scott Wedum '04, who lead a Dartmouth ground game that has the potential to surprise opponents, as it did by producing 222 yards against Yale earlier in the season. Still, as Dartmouth and Princeton square off, most observers' eyes will be directed to the air, where history could be made.

For now, though, Dartmouth players are looking to the near future: Saturday's 1 p.m. kickoff at Princeton.

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