Elis Prep To Defend Title
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The graduating seniors and the alumni are basking in the reflective glory of the 2017 Ivy League Championship. However, the underclassmen on Team 146, a.k.a. the 2018 Yale Football Team, have more to prove as spring practice begins this Friday at 6:05 AM on Clint Frank Field.
"I said at the team banquet last November that Team 145 won the championship, and that Team 146 hasn't done anything yet," said Tony Reno, the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Yale. "Last year's success helped with our confidence. We learned how important every day of preparation is. They understood what it took to win. Team 146 has something to prove."
The 2017 Bulldogs proved worthy of heavy accolades, going 9-1 overall and winning 6 of 7 in the Ancient Eight. Team 145 earned Yale's first title since 2006, while grabbing the program's first outright championship in 37 years after a win over Harvard in the Bowl. The Bulldogs also earned their first national ranking since 2007, finishing at No. 24 in both FCS polls.
Reno, who has 6 seasons at the helm of the program, is charged with sustaining the success of 2017 while defending the school's 15th gridiron championship.
"It's about the commitment to the process while forming and sustaining relationships that help us become the best we can be," said Reno. "We have to be intentional in everything we do to have the opportunity for success. We are trying to replace the selfless mentality of the graduating seniors. That's something that comes from within."
Reno has 57 of the 80 Bulldogs who earned a varsity letter last fall back for another campaign. He also has 10 "starters" and eight returning All-Ivy League picks to go along with seasoned team that was - for good reasons - able to get young players experience in 2017.
One of those all-league picks was defensive end Kyle Mullen '19, who serves as captain of the 2018 squad. He and the Elis will go through some conditioning work and drills before they get into the heavier work of the 12-date spring slate.
"Spring practice is important because it gives us a chance to see how hard guys will work," said Reno, whose excitement about being back on the field with Team 146 is evident in his expressions and the way he rattles off lists of players on both sides of the line of have had great winters in the weight room and in other conditioning.
When you win, schools are going to come calling on your staff. Reno has seen his share of post-championship deal making, but it seems like a win-win for everyone. His offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Joe Conlin, took Fordham's head job and then brought defensive backs and special teams coach Paul Rice '10 with him to the Bronx. Kevin Cahill, who was the pass game coordinator and quarterbacks mentor, is now Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Offensive Coordinator. There have been other alterations to assignments within the returning group and a few additions to the staff over the last month.
The Bulldogs are working toward an April 21 Blue-White contest that concludes with a presentation of the ultimate hardware reward, Ivy League Championship jewelry. Yale will "ring" in the new year while trying to figure out how to repeat the process.
2018 Spring Practice Dates (6:05 to 8:25 AM unless noted) at Clint Frank Field
March 30, April 6, April 9, April 11, April 13, April 16, April 18, April 20, April 21 (1 pm), April 23, April 25, April 26.
Subject to change
By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD/Sports Publicity Director – firstname.lastname@example.org