HANOVER, N.H. — The Ivy League released its 2017 Football Preseason Media Poll today with Dartmouth predicted to finish fifth. Harvard and Princeton sit atop the poll in a tie for first — just the third ever in the history of the preseason poll — although the Crimson received one less first-place vote than the Tigers (6-5).
The pundits believe it will be a tight three-team race with Penn also garnering five first-place votes while amassing 110 points. Yale completed the top half of the poll with 81 points, while the Big Green earned 60 points, narrowly edging out Brown — which received the final first-place vote — in sixth with 57. Columbia (38) and Cornell (36) comprise the final two spots.
Dartmouth fans can take heart in the fact that the media does not have a stellar track record of picking the future Ivy champion. Only three times in the last 20 seasons has the preseason favorite earned at least a share of the title. Although the Big Green did not meet their predicted finish of third place a year ago, they finished higher in the final standings than the preseason poll in each of the previous seven seasons.
Dartmouth had an odd season last year, sweeping its non-conference foes, including a victory over 22nd-ranked New Hampshire for the first time in 40 years, only to stumble to a 1-6 finish against the Ivy League (two losses by two points and another by three) to finish eighth. Yet the Big Green offense finished first in the league in passing offense and second in total yards, while linebacker Folarin Orimolade — the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year — headed up a solid defensive unit.
“It was a disappointing season last year, and that gave our players a direction this off-season,” said Buddy Teevens, the Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach at Dartmouth. “The attitude through spring practice was very solid, very competitive on both sides of the football, and we’re excited to get the preseason underway.”
The offense returns nine starters and the defense six (albeit without Orimolade), giving Coach Teevens a deep and talented roster to challenge for the program’s 19th Ivy League crown, a total no other team has surpassed.
Senior tri-captain Jack Heneghan (6-4, 225) returns at quarterback after throwing for the third-most yards (2,725) in Dartmouth history last year. He will have competition for the spot, however, with Illinois transfer Jimmy Fitzgerald (6-3, 220) and a trio of other sophomores in the mix.
Whoever gets the starting nod behind center will have a myriad of targets at which to throw. The 2016 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Hunter Hagdorn (6-0, 185), was third in the conference in receptions and yardage, and nine of the 10 players that caught at least 10 passes a year ago are back for the Big Green.
Teevens has a stable of running backs to carry the load on the ground, led by junior Miles Smith (5-10, 210), who picked up over five yards per carry last season while earning All-Ivy honorable mention, and veteran Ryder Stone (5-10, 215) who has run for 16 touchdowns and over 800 yards in his career. Clearing the path for them and protecting the quarterback is an offensive line anchored by another All-Ivy honorable mention, junior Matt Kaskey (6-7, 320), along with the Kilcommons twins, John (6-4, 290) and Patrick (6-3, 280).
“We have some skill players that have taken a lot of snaps, but the big question is the offensive line,” Teevens stated. “Some of the younger guys last year had to play out of necessity due to injuries, but helped them develop a little faster. We will be better up front this year than we were a year ago in part because of the experience they had.”
On the other side of the ball, Dartmouth will welcome back some key players, including a few that missed most, if not all, of last season. The team’s other two captains, fifth-year lineman Jeremiah Douchee (6-4, 275) and senior nickelback Kyran McKinney-Crudden (6-0, 200) will be the leaders of the defense. Joining Douchee up front will be a pair of juniors in All-Ivy second-teamer Nick Tomkins (6-3, 270) and Jackson Perry (6-2, 290), who was expected to be the keystone of the line last year but played just one series of downs before suffering a season-ending injury.
The linebacking corps will be formidable as usual, even without Orimolade, with senior All-Ivy honorable mention Eric Meile (6-1, 230), and juniors Jack Traynor (6-0, 230) and Jake Moen (6-3, 235) the most experienced. In the secondary, the Green have four cornerbacks who started at least three games last year along with senior safety Colin Boit (6-2, 210).
The punting game will need to replace four-year starter and two-time All-Ivy second-teamer Ben Kepley. Senior David Smith (5-11, 175) will continue to man the placekicking duties after converting all 23 PATs and 7-of-12 field goals a year ago.
Dartmouth opens the season on Sept. 16 at Stetson of the Pioneer Football League for the Big Green’s first-ever game in the state of Florida, while the home opener takes place the following Saturday, Sept. 23, against Holy Cross. Tickets are now on sale through the Dartmouth Ticket Office online at DartmouthSports.com or call (603) 646-2466.
|2017 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll|
|Rank||Team (1st-place votes)||Points|