Sunday, July 19, 2015

The 'Undercard'

The 1992 Dartmouth freshman football team opened the season with a 16-15 nailbiter over Princeton on Chase Field before falling the next week in a home game against Yale, 24-14.

Dartmouth then stumbled at Cornell (33-14) before a rousing win at Harvard (28-0). The season finished with a home loss to Columbia (22-20) and a bizarre 2-0 victory at Brown.

It used to be that watching the Dartmouth "Pea Green" freshman football team was a big deal. The Harvard game, in particular, used to draw huge and enthusiastic crowds. The freshman team practiced together all fall and the games were played with all the intensity of the varsity contests on Memorial Field.

Everything changed in 1993 when the Ivy League allowed freshmen to play varsity. (Los Angeles Times STORY)

In place of the Pea Green Dartmouth and most other Ivy League teams now play a reduced junior varsity schedule.

Where once relatively large crowds turned out hoping for bragging rights over their Ivy League brethren, now it's largely a "friends and family" crowd watching a team cobbled together with an assortment of freshmen and sophomores, a few juniors and even some little-used seniors sprinkled in.

The quarterback may, or more frequently of late, may not be "live" (although with a plethora of quarterbacks in Hanover this fall they may well be live).

Instead of practicing together all fall the way the freshmen did, the jayvees may run a few plays after practice late in the week before a game.

And instead of playing Ivy League opponents, they play a more regional schedule with only the occasional Ivy making an appearance.

That's not to say the games aren't valuable. Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens has spoken frequently and enthusiastically about the value of the jayvee games both for the players and his staff.

They are a chance for players who won't see the field on Saturday to tackle someone in a different color uniform. And with the varsity coaches on the sidelines the junior varsity games give players the chance to show what they can do in the heat of the battle.

More than one player has found his way into the varsity lineup the next Saturday as a result of what he did in a jayvee game, with Greg Patton '13 the prime example. One week he was a jayvee quarterback, the next week he was up with the varsity setting a school record with 243 yards rushing out of the wildcat in a double-overtime win against Cornell.

All that said, the 2015 Dartmouth junior varsity schedule looks like this:
Thursday, Sept. 10, Harvard 1 p.m.*
Sunday, Sept. 20, Middlebury 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 11, Williams, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 25, Norwich, 1 p.m.
Jayvee games will be covered by BGA Premium.

* The Harvard game will be rolled into the varsity preseason game against Harvard and news from that contest has been embargoed in the past. If, as expected, that's the case this year BGA will maintain statistics from the jayvee component of the afternoon but will include them only in the end-of-season stats.