Bulldogs Celebrate Seniors, Announce Awards at Annual Banquet

Singing "Bright College Years" at the Yale Football banquet. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Randall Earns Blair Award as MVP, also Introduced as Captain

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale football team gathered at Commons Monday night for the team's annual banquet, taking the opportunity to salute the senior class while also recognizing the winners of the team's annual awards.

This was the second season under Tony Reno as Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, and progress was one of the themes of the evening. The Bulldogs more than doubled their overall win total from the previous season, and tripled their total number of league wins. Reno got Monday night's festivities started by thanking many of the program's supporters that were in attendance, including Yale President Peter Salovey.

Ron Vaccaro '04, the voice of Yale Football on the Yale Football Radio Network, then acknowledged all 22 members of the senior class.

After dinner, senior defensive end Beau Palin (Oconomowoc, Wisc.), Yale's captain, introduced the seniors by position group as each of them got the chance to address the crowd and say thank you to their assistant coaches and others.

Palin himself thanked Reno, noting in particular the work ethic that Reno and his staff instilled in the Bulldogs.

"Coach Reno demands you give 100 percent," said Palin. "When you give 100 percent, he demands you give more."

Palin also spoke of the way his fellow seniors inspired him, and spoke for the group as whole when he said that "Yale football has supplied us with experiences, relationships and memories that we will take to the grave."

Reno, who has always stressed honoring the tradition of the program, then introduced four members of the Yale football family who helped present the team awards (awards listed below): Bob Blanchard '61, Hall of Fame head coach Carm Cozza, Joel E. Smilow '54 and Bob Sokolowski '69.

In addition to announcing the award winners, Reno also recognized Palin for setting the tone for the team's work ethic in his role as captain.

"The more I asked of him, the more he demanded of himself," said Reno.

Reno then thanked more members of the university and Athletic Department, and even started a new tradition by honoring the "Team Mother" -- Mary Beth Oppenheimer, mother of senior offensive lineman John Oppenheimer – for her work behind the scenes.

Smilow then addressed the crowd, recalling what he thought when he saw Reno and the team together for the first time more than a year ago.

"Something very wonderful is happening tonight," Smilow said he remembered thinking at the time. "Everything that has happened since then has reinforced that."

Reno followed by paying tribute to the seniors, who clearly played a huge role in helping the team take a step forward this past season.

"We started this process," Reno said. "Things don't just happen. You have to make them happen … This was one of the greatest teams to coach, because they came to work every day … We worked them pretty hard. No-one rises to low expectations. They bought in to what we were doing, day-in and day-out."

After a standing ovation for the seniors, Reno introduced the newly elected captain for the 2014 season: junior wide receiver Deon Randall (San Diego, Calif.), who earlier in the evening had been announced as the winner of the Ted Blair Award as the team's most valuable player.

"I am honored to be your 2014 captain," said Randall. "I know I have big shoes to fill following Beau … Now it is time to re-dedicate ourselves to the process to achieve the potential this team has."

The night ended with the singing of "Bright College Years" led by Salovey and Special Assistant to the President/Master of Jonathan Edwards College and Lecturer in English Penny Laurans.

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity


2013 Season Yale Football Team Awards

Ted Blair Award
Given to the most valuable player on the varsity team in memory of Edwin Foster (Ted) Blair '24.
WR Deon Randall '14 (San Diego, Calif.)

Jordan Olivar Award
Given to that senior, other than the captain, who, through his devotion to Yale football, has earned the highest respect of his teammates.
OL John Oppenheimer '14 (Menlo Park, Calif.)

Woody Knapp Memorial Trophy
Given to that outstanding member of the football team who best typifies the cheerful disposition, leadership qualities, and unselfish devotion to others which characterized Woody's life and accomplishments at Yale.
DL Kyle White '14 (Pompton Plains, N.J.)

Robert Gardner Anderson Award
Given to the player who best exemplifies Bob's interest in the sport by combination of skill, spirit and pride in accomplishment.
QB Henry Furman '14 (Portland, Ore.)

Norman S. Hall Memorial Trophy
Given to an individual for outstanding service to Yale football, in memory of Norman Hall '30.
WR Cameron Sandquist '14 (Redmond, Wash.)

Gregory Dubinetz Memorial Trophy
Given to the lineman who best exemplifies the spirit of Greg Dubinetz as a player and person.
DL Beau Palin '14 (Oconomowoc, Wisc.)

Charles Loftus Award
Given to the most valuable freshman.
DB Foyesade Oluokun '17 (St. Louis, Mo.)
RB Candler Rich '17 (Newnan, Ga.)
DB Spencer Rymiszewski '17 (West Chester, Pa.)
DL Copache Tyler '17 (Springfield, Ill.)

Chester J. LaRoche Award
Given to that senior who, by his character, academic talents and concern for others, did the most for Yale.
LB Brian Leffler '13 (Skillman, N.J.)

Ledyard Mitchell Award
Awarded for proficiency in kicking.
P/PK Kyle Cazzetta '15 (Slate Hill, N.Y.)

Jim Keppel Award
(Offensive Back of the Year)
Given to the offensive back who best exhibited Jim's work ethic, pride and dedication to Yale Football, as well as his ability to enrich the lives of his friends and teammates.
WR Deon Randall '15 (San Diego, Calif.)

Ryan LoProto Award
(Defensive Back of the Year)
Awarded to the player on the Yale Football Team who best exemplifies Ryan's passion and competitive spirit, skill in the defensive secondary, and devotion to teammates.
DB Charles Cook '15 (Dallas, Texas)

Ted Turner Award
(Offensive Lineman of the Year)
OL Wes Gavin '14 (San Diego, Calif.)

Defensive Lineman of the Year
DL Dylan Drake '13 (Plantation, Fla.)

Hammer Award
OL Ben Carbery '15 (Oak Park, Ill.)

Specialist Award
DB Derek Russell '13 (Newton, Mass.)