Bulldogs Open 2007 in Nation's Capitol

Bulldogs Open 2007 in Nation's Capitol

Sept. 11, 2007

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 136th season of Yale football kicks off Saturday the 15th with the Bulldogs' first trip to Washington, D.C. and a 1 p.m. game against Georgetown (0-2, 0-1 Patriot) at Multi-Sport Field. The first-ever Hoyas-Bulldogs matchup can be heard live on WELI (960-AM), WYBC (1340-AM) and on 960weli.com and wybc.com. Verizon Fios TV will provide a delayed broadcast that airs Sept. 17 at noon and again at midnight.


The Bulldogs have been ranked as high as No. 18 and as low as 25th in seven different FCS (formerly I-AA) pre-season polls. This is the first time a Yale football team has been included in the national (I-AA) pre-season rankings. The Elis are currently ranked 21st in this week's Sports Network Poll and sit 24th in the FCS Coaches Poll.


The Elis are the 2007 pick of the Ivy by every media prognosticator. This is the first time Yale has been slated No. 1 by the Ivy media since 2000 when Cornell and the Blue shared the top spot. The Bulldogs were picked fifth last year before sharing the league title with Princeton. The August 2007 picks were: 1. Yale; 2. Penn; 3. Harvard; 4. Princeton; 5. Cornell; 6. Columbia; 7. Brown; 8. Dartmouth.


One of the most recognized of the college football prognostication publications, Street & Smith picked them this way: 1. Yale; 2. Princeton; 3. Harvard; 4. Penn; 5. Cornell; 6. Columbia; 7. Dartmouth; 8. Brown... Offensive Top Player: Mike McLeod, Yale; Defensive Top Player: Joe Anastasio, Penn, LB; Top Newcomer: Nicolai Schwarzkopf, Harvard, TE


Yale has played in 17 different states but never in the Nation's Capitol. The Bulldogs have competed on gridirons in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin.


Yale's starting offensive line, which helped lead the league in rushing last fall, averages 280 pounds compared to a Georgetown defensive front that goes at 245 (35-pound difference). The Bulldog defensive front (257, including DEs) faces a 12-pound disadvantage against the Hoya OL (269 lbs).


Jack Siedlecki (Union '74), in his 11th season as the Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football at Yale, is 111-66-2 as a collegiate head coach, 55-44 at Yale. Siedlecki, who has never faced Georgetown or its head coach, Kevin Kelly, has coached in four of the oldest rivalries in college football (Lehigh-Lafayette, Yale-Princeton, Yale-Harvard and Amherst-Williams). Kelly, who won a 1991 Ivy title as a Dartmouth assistant and also coached at Southern Connecticut (1994-95), is in his second season and brings a 2-11 career record into Saturday's game.


There were nine practices before Princeton came to New Haven on Aug. 30 for a scrimmage and 14 between that meeting and opening day. Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football Jack Siedlecki was happy to get an early look and what needs work the most. The highlights of the day included a 17-yard TD pass from Ryan Fodor to Ken Ebeling, interceptions by DBs Andrew Liyana and Rylan Spence, impact hits by DBs Paul Rice and Gio Christodoulou and sacks by DL Stephen Schmalhofer and Shane Jones.


"We are looking forward to our season opener in the Nation's Capitol. It is always a challenge to open with a team that has already played two games. We must be game ready because we know they are. Georgetown runs a spread-option offense with excellent skill players and an experienced quarterback. Defensively, they are an eight-man front and we must keep the offense balanced to succeed. The kick game is always the wild card in the opener. We have worked very hard on it and feel it is a team strength."


The Hoyas, who opened with a 35-28 loss at Stony Brook before falling to Lafayette 28-7, play this Saturday for the third consecutive week. Mychal Harrison had the lone GU score against the Leopards with an eight-yard run. QB Matt Bassuener finished the day completing 17-of-27 passes for 131 yards, while senior back Kyle Van Fleet had 19 carries for 58 yards. Brent Craft had four catches for 51 yards to lead the receivers.


Shawn Halloran, who was a Yale assistant from 1997 to 2001, returned to New Haven last spring as the special teams coordinator and an assistant on both offensive and defense... Freshman DE Sean Williams, who transferred to Yale this summer from Navy, is the son of a former Notre Dame and NFL standout Larry Williams. The father is currently Director of Athletics at the University of Portland... Two freshmen, WR Jordan Forney and PK Alex Barnes, appear on the current two-deep depth chart.


Georgetown, the oldest catholic university in the nation, has played every Ivy school other than Harvard and Yale... The Hoyas, who moved up to I-AA status in 1993, have not had a winning season since 1999... They have not defeated an Ivy squad since Cornell in 2003... RB/WR Charlie Houghton was named 2006 Patriot League Rookie of the Year... GU, which runs an offense that is difficult to categorize, has a very young (2 sophomores, 2 seniors, 1 junior) offensive line.


GU has four Connecticut residents on its roster, including two from the Elm City: QB Jon Schoen (Darien); QB Keerome Lawrence (New Haven); DB Enrico Jones (New Haven) and WR Anthony Homsey (Oakdale).


The Yale team poll revealed some interesting facts about the Bulldogs. QB Richie Scudellari and LB Bobby Abare are considered the hardest working players. DT Stephen Schmalhofer is the funniest, DE Matt Plummer the smartest and TB Mike McLeod the most athletic. The best leader other than the captain is QB Matt Polhemus, while captain Brandt Hollander was voted the strongest. Bobby Abare has been named the toughest. WR Jarren Simmons (most musical), RB David Silberstein (community service) and DE Tim Handlon (most likely to be U.S. President) also were listed the most.


DE Joe Hathaway was named the player with the most unique hobbies (Star Wars trivia knowledge, WWE fanaticism)... LBs Shebby Swett and Jay Pilkerton were voted the guys most players would want their sisters to date... Seventy percent of the team lives on campus... No player owns a Bulldog but 91 percent of the team prefers dogs over cats... The favorite New Haven restaurant among the Elis is Yorkside Pizza & Restaurant... Carmen Anthony (Steak House) came in second.


The Bulldogs return 11 all-league players from an 8-2 (6-1 Ivy) team that shared the Ivy title with Princeton. Here is a breakdown with their uniform number, position, name, class, notes and stats:

44 LB Bobby Abare '08 - First-Team, All-New England (46-30-76, 4 ints)

32 DE Larry Abare '08 - Second-Team (46-29-75, 1 int) as a DB

50 LB Lee Driftmier '07 - sat out 2006 with injury; HM '05 (led

team with 54 solos and 89 total and 5 ints)

90 DE Kyle Hawari '09 - HM (15-8-23, 3 sacks, 1 int)

94 MG Brandt Hollander '08 - First -Team, All-New England (17-7- 24, 4 sacks)

17 TE Langston Johnson '08 - Second-Team (4 catches, 58 yards)

48 PK Alan Kimball '08 - Second-Team (12-19 FG, 29-31 PAT)

28 TB Mike McLeod '09 - First-Team All-Ivy (1,364 yards, 20 TDs)

54 OG Jeff Monaco '08 - First-Team (offense led Ivy in rushing), named pre-season All-America

14 FS Steven Santoro '09 - HM (35-9-44, 4 ints)

77 C Nick Wachtler '08 - HM (offense led Ivy in rushing)


Consensus All-American Ed McCarthy has graduated and left large shoes to fill on the offensive line. All-Ivy guard Jeff Monaco and honorable mention pick Nick Wachtler (center) are back. Darius Dale was Yale's top quick tackle in 2006 but only had four starts due to injury. Stephen Morse, a former LB and RB who has earned two letters from special teams, and converted DL Bryan Kana, who had 14 tackles and played in every game last fall, earned starting roles on the offensive front at guard and tackle.


Junior fraternal twins LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare (started as a DB in 2006) are possibly the only twins in college football starting together on defense. Public address announcers around the league are familiar with the last name. The Abares led the Blue in tackles and combined for five interceptions in 2006.


Yale captain Brandt Hollander, listed by the players as the strongest (bench press of 480, hang clean 368) player on the team, is a senior nose guard from Indianapolis, Ind. Hollander is one of five Elis from Indiana.


Yale has not won a national football title since 1927, but the Bulldogs still have more championships (26) than any other school in the country. Notre Dame is second with 11 national titles. In addition, the Elis were the first football team of any kind to win 800 games but have since been overtaken by Michigan.


The normal practice week is from Tuesday through Friday, 4:15 to 6:15. Note that Friday times could be altered on travel days. Practice is held on the fields behind the baseball stadium (Yale Field) and inside the outdoor track. Inclement weather could bring the team inside to either Coxe Cage or the Lanman Center (back of Payne Whitney Gym). Players might be available for interviews before/after practice around the Smilow Center or out on the fields. It is best to email Steve Conn to arrange a meeting at least a day before you would like to speak with a player or coach.


Despite suffering both 2006 losses on the Class of '54 Field, the Yale Bowl has been a happy place for Bulldogs. Since opening the national historic landmark in 1914 with a 36-0 loss to Harvard, the Blue has gone 355-187-21 (563 games) at home. Since formal Ivy play began in 1956, the Elis are 117-74-3 vs. Ancient Eight foes at home.


There are five sets of brothers on the 2007 Yale roster: LB Bobby and DE Larry Abare; DBs Matt and John Coombs; DE Eric and OL Louis Gresham; DE Brady and QB Brook Hart; and student assistant coach Kevin and DL Tom McCarthy.


Connecticut has always provided talented athletes for the Yale football team with offensive stars such as Rich Diana (Hamden High) and John Pagliaro (Derby High), and 2007 is no exception. QBs Ryan Fodor (Hand of Madison) and Matt Kelleher (Southington High) both earned state player of the year honors as seniors. In addition, RB Mike McLeod (New Britain High) was the New Haven Register's player of the year. Pagliaro's son, John Jr., came to Yale this fall from Maryland.


This Wednesday at noon, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki will be joined by senior captain and NG Brandt Hollander. The Galiette Luncheon interviews can be heard on Don Boyle's sportingnewsct.com. Yale's weekly media luncheon was named after legendary play-by-play announcer Dick Galiette, who called Yale Football for 33 seasons until his death in 2005.


Tony Bellino '05, who started on the Yale offensive line, is attending Notre Dame Law School and heads up the student radio coverage of Fighting Irish football... Eric Johnson '01, starting TE for the New Orleans Saints, opened the season with eight catches for 57 yards against the Colts... Nate Lawrie is a backup TE for the Cincinnati Bengals, who opened with a win over Baltimore... Dick Jauron '73 is in his second season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills.


Phase 1 restoration of Yale Bowl and the Class of '54 Field has been completed and a dedication event is scheduled for the Nov. 17 Harvard game. Phase 2, which begins next spring, includes the Jensen Family Plaza, which will be located on the walkway to the Bowl from Central Avenue, and honors the Jensen brothers: Irving '54, Colin '57, Erik '63 and Mark '67. The welcoming plaza will serve as the perfect place for fans to gather before and after games. The Kenney Family Field Center, which includes renovations to the existing field center and halftime room and additional special event space, will also be completed in the next phase of Bowl renovations. It honors the Kenney brothers: Jerry P. `63 (who will be honored by the Ivy Football Association in January), Brian R. '60, Robert D. '67 and Richard L. '71, and a son, Jeffrey S. '93.


For the ninth straight season, the Walter Camp Football Foundation honors Yale's game MVP as the Walter Camp Yale Player of the Game. This award is handed out both at home and on the road. Mike McLeod took Cornell (three TDs), Lafayette (172 yds, three TDs), Lehigh (204 yards, two TDs) and Princeton (4 TDs) honors in 2006 to lead all Bulldogs. Walter Camp (class of 1880), commonly known as the father of American football, captained two Yale teams and coached five others. He compiled a 67-2-0 record and won three national titles as coach.


As always, there are numerous activities centered around The Game on Nov. 17. One of the highlights is the handing out of the George H.W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Awards at the Blue Leadership Ball (Nov. 16). The honorees include Richard P. Cooley `44, Charles B. Johnson `54, Anne F. Keating `77, James McNerney `71 and Kurt L. Schmoke `71. Johnson and Schmoke played football at Yale. This year, Yale also celebrates the completion of phase one of the Yale Bowl, Class of '54 Field restoration with a dedication ceremony. In addition, there are many alumni functions.


NEWS/TALK 960 WELI will broadcast all 10 Yale football games this fall on 960-AM and online at 960WELI.com. Ron Vaccaro '04 returns for his second year as play-by-play announcer. Yale football coaching legend Carm Cozza, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, returns for his 10th season as color commentator. If you are not within listening range of WELI, you can access the games via TEAMLINE at 1-800-846-4700 and enter Yale's four-digit code of 5682. WELI's Jerry Kristafer begins home game coverage from the Bowl with a half-hour tailgate party broadcast. Kristafer, who has WELI's weekday morning show, speaks with Vaccaro about the Elis every Friday morning at 8:15.


The slogan coined by the 2006 Ivy League co-champion Bulldogs is the name of the 30-minute WELI Radio show that precedes the normal pre-game show. Ron Vaccaro and WELI engineer Tom Ivanovich produced the piece - that includes an interview with 2006 captain Chandler Henley '06 -- to celebrate last fall's title and will air at noon before Saturday's season opener.


WYBC (1340-AM) also covers each game and has a 30-minute pre-game show. Bob Heussler, WYBC's Director of Football Radio Broadcasts, and Anthony Brooks, the station's sports coordinator, lead a talented group of Yale student broadcasters who can also be heard on wybc.com. WYBC also hosts Sports Sunday from 9-10 p.m., a show that wraps up each Yale sports weekend and includes interviews with coaches and players.


Designed to keep Yale Athletics fans and alumni informed and entertained, the voice of the Elis, Ron Vaccaro '04 hosts a series of netcasts available via Apple iTunesU. This series will feature season previews, event coverage (such as Yale's Ivy title clinching defeat of Harvard in The Game last year), and commentary from coaches, players, and analysts, while also taking the fan inside special events such as the Blue Leadership Ball. You can download from iTunesU at yalebulldogs.com (see Yale Athletics Netcasts on right side of front page).


The Blue has five games on the tube this fall, three of which are at home. The Oct. 6 game against Dartmouth on NESN is the ECAC Game of the Week. WFMZ-TV airs the Oct. 13 Lehigh game in the Bowl that also shows up on FSN Pittsburgh (DirecTV 628, Dish Network 428). The first of two road games on YES Network is Oct. 20 at Penn, the second is Nov. 10 at Princeton. The 124th edition of The Game will be carried on HDNet nation wide (available on DirecTV 79, Dish Network 9422 and various cable providers), SportsNet NY (New York), WPHL (Philadelphia), WLVI (Boston) and WTXX (Hartford). Jack Ford '72 will provide color on the broadcast after serving as master of ceremonies at the Blue Leadership Ball.


Somewhere between 500 and 700 New Haven children will take part in sports clinics, a youth fair and more in the 2007 Yale Youth Day on Sept. 22, the day of the Bulldogs' home opener against Cornell. Youth football games in the morning are followed by clinics, a youth fair, a pass-kick competition and more. Contact Youth Day co-chair Don Scharf '55 (432-7678) for more information.

release filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director