NE Writers, Boston Club Honor Yale Coach
BOSTON, Mass. – The Bulldogs went from 3-7 in 2016 to 9-1 this fall while grabbing their first outright Ivy League Championship in 37 years. Tony Reno, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, was rewarded for the team's success with both the New England Football Writers and the Gridiron Club of Boston naming him Division I Coach of the Year.
Reno, who just completed his sixth season as head coach of the Blue, took a team picked fourth in the pre-season media poll to its first Ivy title since 2006. The Elis earned their first national ranking in 10 years, taking No. 24 in both FCS polls.
One big change for his team was its ability to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Yale, which, was fourth in the nation in sacks with a 3.9 average, allowed just 15.6 points per game (8th in the FCS). The Bulldogs amped up the defense at home, allowing only 16 points over the last four games at Yale Bowl.
While Reno's defense was shutting down the opposition's offense with tons of pressure, his offense was putting up big numbers despite inexperience at key skill positions. The Blue averaged 34.5 points with 450.7 yards per game (12th in FCS) behind a veteran offensive line blocking for a sophomore quarterback and mostly rookie running backs.
The Elis opened the fall averaging 48 points in three straight wins, serving notice to Ancient Eight teams of what was to come. Yale dropped a one-point decision in week four on the road at Hanover in a game it led by 17 at halftime, but that loss may have only ignited the champions to six straight victories, including emotional rivalry contests the last two weeks.
Yale's first H-Y-P championship since 1999 was made possible with an improbable offense highlighted comeback, title-clinching win at Princeton followed by a dominating defensive performance in The Game.
The 17-point, first-half deficit at Old Nassau belonged to the Blue, and the visitors fought back for a 35-31 win over the Tigers. The Yale defense did not take top billing on Nov. 11, but it allowed just one Princeton score in the second half as the offense exploded for three straight touchdowns.
A week later against Harvard at the Bowl, the Bulldogs' defense limited the Crimson to a first possession field goal on the way to a 24-3 win to secure the outright championship.
Reno, who has a 33-27 overall record in his first head coaching position, had 20 players earn All-Ivy League honors this fall, the most for the school in 40 years.
Both awards are handed out at dinner events. The New England Football Writers Captains and Awards Banquet is Dec. 5 at the Montvale Plaza in Stoneham, Mass. Contact Dick Lipe at Bentley (email@example.com, 781-891-2334) prior to Thursday, Nov. 30 if you are interested in attending.
The Gridiron Club of Boston holds its annual banquet on Dec. 14 at the Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, Mass. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with the dinner and program at 7. Tickets are $75 each or $750 for a table of 10. They may be ordered online at www.gridclubofgreaterboston.com or by calling call club secretary/treasurer Dick Lawrence at (781) 929-3650.
By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org