August 6, 2007

Media Poll Has Yale Picked to Repeat as Ivy League Champions

Aug. 6, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale begins its quest for back-to-back Ivy League titles as the heavy favorite according to the league's preseason media poll, which was released at Ivy League Football Media Day Monday at The Course at Yale. The Bulldogs received 14 of 16 first-place votes and totaled 125 points, well ahead of second-place Penn (one first-place vote and 102 points). Harvard, picked for third with 95 points, was the only other school to receive a first-place vote.

"Last year we were picked fifth, so you could say we came out of the pack," said Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "When you're picked to win, you've got the bull's-eye on your chest and you've got to handle it."

After finishing tied for first last season, Yale returns 40 letter winners and 17 starters -- numbers that Siedlecki reckons helped dictate the Bulldogs' place atop the poll in the eyes of the media voters.

"Our most evident strength is that on defense we return nine starters and get two starters back from the year before [senior linebacker Lee Driftmier (Bellevue, Wash.) and senior defensive back Nick Solakian (Santa Barbara, Calif.] both missed 2006 due to injury]," Siedlecki said. "We've got the best back in the league [junior tailback Mike McLeod (New Britain, Conn.)] and we've got our quarterback [senior Matt Polhemus (N. Chatham, Mass.)] returning, so we're the only team in the league that has two impact players back at those positions."

Driftmier (honorable mention All-Ivy in 2005) and McLeod (first-team All-Ivy in 2006) are two of 11 current Bulldogs coming off seasons in which they received post-season recognition from the league. Junior linebacker Bobby Abare (Acton, Mass.), senior middle guard Brandt Hollander (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior offensive guard Jeff Monaco (McDonald, Pa.) are all coming off first-team All-Ivy selections. Junior strong safety Larry Abare (Acton, Mass.), senior tight end Langston Johnson (Los Altos, Calif.) and senior place kicker Alan Kimball (Olathe, Kans.) were all second-team picks, while junior defensive end Kyle Hawari (Plano, Texas), junior free safety Steven Santoro (Airmont, N.Y.) and senior offensive lineman Nick Wachtler (Richardson, Texas) earned honorable mention.

While acknowledging the impressive array of talent he has at his disposal, Siedlecki also noted the fine line between success and failure.

"We won two overtime games last year and we went 8-2 and won the Ivy League title," Siedlecki said. "The year before we lost two overtime games and finished 4-6. The league is very balanced and very competitive. Making plays in the fourth quarter is going to make the difference."

Yale opens the 2007 season at Georgetown Sept. 15 and plays its first Ivy League game Sept. 22 against Cornell at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field.

  Team Pts 2006 Finish
1 Yale (14) 125 first (6-1)
2 Penn (1) 102 fourth (3-4)
3 Harvard (1) 95 third (4-3)
4 Princeton 87 first (6-1)
5 Cornell 62 fourth (3-4)
6 Columbia 44 sixth (2-5)
7 Brown 33 sixth (2-5)
8 Dartmouth 28 sixth (2-5)

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

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