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Yale Football Season Begins Saturday

Josh Keeler makes a tackle vs. Holy Cross last fall (Ron Waite image)
Josh Keeler makes a tackle vs. Holy Cross last fall (Ron Waite image)

Team 146 Opens at Holy Cross


The 146th Yale Football Team kicks off the 2018 season with a 1 p.m. road contest against Holy Cross this Saturday at Fitton Field. The game airs live on the Patriot League Network as well as WELI Radio (AM 960) and iHeart Radio.

Series: Yale leads 28-4 Yale, 115 years old
Last Meeting: Oct. 14, 2018 – Yale 32, Holy Cross 0 (Yale Bowl)
Last Holy Cross win: Oct. 1, 2005 – Holy Cross 22, Yale 19 (Yale Bowl)
Last Meeting at Worcester: Sept. 29, 2007 – Yale 38, Holy Cross 17

Yale is 123-19-2 (.861) in season openers and has won 10 of its last 11.

The defending Ivy champions were picked first by the league media in the pre-season poll… 7 All-Ivy players return… 57 lettermen and 10 starters are back from a 9-1 team that ranked No. 24 in FCS polls… The season preparation included Blue-White scrimmages sandwiched around a Sept. 1 scrimmage at Brown.

Holy Cross, under first-year head coach Bob Chesney (last 5 years at Assumption College), plays its first home game this Saturday with the Elis coming to town. The Crusaders are coming off a loss at Boston College last Saturday.

At Colgate (Sept. 1): 24-17 L
At Boston College (Sept. 8):  62-14 L

There are many leaders among the 2018 Bulldogs:

Captains of HS football team: 82
Captain of another sport in HS: 50
National Honor Society Members: 45
HS Class Presidents: 6
HS Class valedictorians: 2

He is a senior DL using 5th year of eligibility… 49 tackles, 6.5 TFL in 26 career games… Former Fairfield Prep star is 18th Yale football captain from CT, 2nd Milford native… Political Science major, Ezra Stiles College… Grew up attending Yale games and always wanted to be a Bulldog.

DL Charles Callender '20 – Second-Team 2017
DB Malcom Dixon '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
Zane Dudek '21 – First-Team 2017
Dieter Eiselen '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
Alex Galland '19 – Second-Team 2017
Kurt Rawlings '20 – Honorable Mention 2017
Sterling Strother '20 – Second-Team 2017

The 2018 Yale football team represents 24 states and 4 countries (US, Canada, England, South Africa)... California has the most players with 14... Connecticut and Texas have the second most with 9, while New Jersey and Massachusetts both have 8... Kamsi Nwangwu, from Woodbridge, is the Bulldog whose home is closest to the campus... Dieter Eiselen, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, came the farthest to attend Yale (nearly 7800 miles)... The tallest players on the team are OL Grant Neagli and Jett Sexton, who stand at 6'7; Neagli is also the heaviest player at 325 pounds; OL Sterling Strother has the largest cleat (size 16), while DL Tate Goodyear has the largest (8 3/8) helmet … The average for Bulldog O-linemen is 6'4 3/4 and 290 pounds…. The average DL is 6'3 1/4 and 254 pounds.

A survey of the team produced some interesting anecdotal information about the Bulldogs.

Most humorous: Spencer Matthei, Rodney Thomas
Most intelligent: Alex Galland
Most vocal: J. Hunter Roman
Most likely to become president: JP Shohfi
Most interesting extracurricular: Alex Galland (plays in Yale Band)
Best singer: Kamsi Nwangwu
Strongest (pound-for-pound): Alan Lamar, Melvin Rouse II
Most involved in community: John Lager

When you win, schools come calling. Three coaches from the championship team left Yale last winter. OC Joe Conlin became Fordham's head coach and took DB coach Paul Rice with him. TE mentor Chandler Henley went to the NFL as a quality control coach with Titans.

New Coaches: Matt Cerins (TE, intern on Yale staff 2017), Ben Olson (DL, at Colgate in 2017, brother of Jake Olson, Chief of Staff), Al Netter (OL, at Michigan in 2017).

Assignment Changes: Kevin Cahill went from Pass-Game Coordinator to Offensive Coordinator; Art Asselta (WR) is now Pass-Game Coordinator; Jordan Stevens went from DL in 2017 to co-Defensive Coordinator and LB coach.

The Elis were the only Ivy school to receive votes (22) in the AFCA Top 25 Poll… Yale has 7 of its 10 games on real grass in 2018; The 3 artificial turf games are Cornell, Penn and Columbia.

Three Yale seniors from the 2017 championship team were on NFL rosters over the summer and made it to the final cut. Foyesade Oluokun made the 53-man Atlanta Falcons roster, while Jaeden Graham is currently on the Falcons' practice squad. In addition, Matthew Oplinger played in multiple exhibition games and turned some heads.

3 Yale Stars Make NFL Mark:
•    Foyesade Oluokun (LB, Atlanta, drafted), Two-time All-Ivy League Selection
•    Jaeden Graham (TE, Atlanta, FA), 2017 First-Team All-Ivy League Pick
•    Matthew Oplinger (LB, Arizona, FA), 2nd Team All-American and 2017 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year

All of Yale's home games as well as Ivy road games in 2018 are on ESPN. Most of them are on ESPN+, a subscription based (Watch ESPN) streaming platform, but the Bulldogs will be on TV three times (Dartmouth, Penn, Harvard) this fall. Links will be available on for each game. International viewers who cannot get ESPN+ can watch on the Yale portal presented by Stretch Internet.

All 10 games air live on AM (960 WELI or 1300 ESPN) as well as iHeart Radio. The AM station of the week is dependent on the schedule of the New York Yankees, whose games air on ESPN Radio. Both stations have websites with live listening links.

Yale University will celebrate the life of Hall of Fame football head coach Carmen L. Cozza on Nov. 10 prior to the game against Princeton at the Bowl. The ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. inside Coxe Cage. Cozza, who coached the Bulldogs to 10 Ivy titles in 32 seasons, passed away on Jan. 4, 2018. The Elis are wearing a patch on their jerseys this season to honor the college football legend.

Yale and Harvard have never played each other at a professional sports venue, so this year's edition of The Game is truly unique. The Nov. 17 contest takes place at Fenway Park with a noon kick on one of the ESPN networks. The 135th meeting of Yale and Harvard is also unique because it sold out in a few days last spring. That's the earliest tickets have ever gone on sale and the fastest the tickets have been sold.  The New York Post recently came out with "The 20 Best Experiences College Football Has to Offer" and The Game ranked No. 5 behind Clemson (Howard's Rock), Army-Navy, Notre Dame (TD Jesus) and Wisconsin's "Jump Around."

Five games and five different promotions for 2018:

Sept. 29 (Youth Day)
Oct. 5 (Yale Employee Night)
Oct. 13 (Heroes' Day)
Nov. 3 (Community Day)
Nov. 10  (Fill the Bowl, CT Food Bank)


by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director