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Optimistic Big Green Springs Into Action

  • Dartmouth College defensive coordinator Don Dobes tugs linebacker Bennett Goff into the proper position yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices. The squad holds its spring game on May 4 at Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth College defensive coordinator Don Dobes tugs linebacker Bennett Goff into the proper position yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices. The squad holds its spring game on May 4 at Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth receiver Joseph Dowdell unsuccessfully attempts to catch a pass yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices on Memorial Field. The spring game is May 4. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Dartmouth receiver Joseph Dowdell unsuccessfully attempts to catch a pass yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices on Memorial Field. The spring game is May 4. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College defensive coordinator Don Dobes tugs linebacker Bennett Goff into the proper position yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices. The squad holds its spring game on May 4 at Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
  • Dartmouth receiver Joseph Dowdell unsuccessfully attempts to catch a pass yesterday during the first of the Big Green’s 12 spring practices on Memorial Field. The spring game is May 4. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Hanover — It’s early for Ivy League football title talk, but Dartmouth College is bound to be targeted as the chatter builds throughout the spring and summer. The Big Green conducted the first of its 12 spring practices on Memorial Field yesterday, coming off a season during which it finished 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the Ancient Eight, good for a third-place tie.

With not one, but two experienced quarterbacks in Dalyn Williams and Alex Park, a workhorse running back in Dominick Pierre and a talented receiving corps, the offense has star potential. The defense is anchored by standout linebackers Bronson Green and Michael Runger, the latter of whom led the Ivies in tackles last fall. Five other starters return on that side of the ball, including first team All-Ivy safety Garrett Waggoner.

But back to those quarterbacks …

“I have two starters, essentially,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who’s headed for the ninth season of his second stint at the program’s helm. “Dalyn would be the 1A based on his performance at the end of (last) year and Alex is the 1B and we’ll play them both. We did that last year, and it paid dividends. When Dalyn had to go in because of injury, he was seasoned.

“They’re both consummate competitors and they both want to play, but they go about it in the right way.”

Park, a transfer from the University of New Hampshire, earned the starting job during last year’s preseason practices, but was hurt against Harvard and the agile Williams filled in well enough to become the league’s Rookie of the Year. The freshman from Texas toyed with the idea of also playing baseball for the Big Green, but has backed off that idea.

“I said, ‘this is what I’m hearing’ and he said ‘No, football’s my thing,’ ” the coach explained, noting that receiver Bo Patterson skips spring practice while patrolling the outfield. “Bo misses the whole spring, and that’s fine because he was recruited as such. But the quarterback position is different, because of all the nuances and the mental stuff.

“I told (Williams) he has some potential, but he also needs some work. He made a wise choice.”

The last time Dartmouth played, during a 35-21 victory at Princeton, Green watched the latter stages on crutches after suffering a knee injury. The senior-to-be said yesterday that although he tore two ligaments, Dartmouth’s training staff and consulting doctors decided he was better off without surgery and that he’s feeling well after four months of rehabilitation.

And what about the Ivy championship conversation, Bronson?

“I don’t listen to much buzz, but it’s about time,” Green said of the idea that Dartmouth will be a serious contender for its first Ivy crown since 1996. “Winning a road game at Bucknell in my first game here was a big deal then, but there’s been a culture change and now we expect to win every single game. There’s still progress to be made as far as playing with teams and dominating them and that’s the next step that we have to take this spring.”

Said Teevens: “That’s what you play for and it’s taken us a while to put ourselves in that position, with recruiting and facilities and getting some wins and the culture that’s been established. The guys understand this is a very competitive league with a lot of good teams and we can play with any of them.”

Yesterday’s workout began under sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s, but finished in the gloaming and with the mercury headed south. None of the players were complaining, however, not after taking part in early morning workouts under the glare of strength and conditioning coach Dave Jenkerson the past two weeks.

Following a half-hour weight room session, the Big Green gridders would head out into the cold to lift logs, hoist sandbags, chase each other in circles and compete in tug-of-war, among various exhausting exercises. To exhibit the toughness he wanted his players to develop, Jenkerson always wore shorts and a T-shirt. Occasionally he would don a sweatshirt, but only after he lost feeling in his hands one morning did he wear gloves.

“I want to let the guys know I’m right there with them in the cold,” said the Manchester native. “I have a different mindset on those days.”

Gordy Quist and Trevor Nealon, both 2002 Dartmouth graduates and former football players, played at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., recently with their Band of Heathens rock ‘n roll group. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the outfit finished atop the “Top 50 Bands Right Now!” rankings by Alternate Root Magazine.

The Iron Horse website describes the band thus: “Band of Heathens … has reached so many fans so fast because of the echoes of and subtle homage to so many different artists at the core of the Americana canon, including Tom Petty, Tony Joe White, the Grateful Dead, Leon Russell, George Harrison, and other rarified (sic) stylists.”

In a nod to the modern music scene, the Heathens started recording all of their live performances last year and make them available at the conclusion of each show on a USB drive. Each drive contains that night’s audio recording, photos from the day of touring, and sometimes a video.

Notes: A host of players injured last season were back in action yesterday, including running back Brian Grove, linebackers Eric Wickham and Bennett Goff, cornerback A.J. Dettorre, tight end Jack Sheehy and defensive end Sawyer Whalen. … The word “Dartmouth” is spelled out in large metal letters on the facade of the Floren Varsity House that faces Memorial Field. Yesterday, however, the O was missing. Asked what happened to it, Teevens answered with a straight face. “Budget cuts,” the coach said. … Yale is welcoming a transfer quarterback from Clemson, while Columbia is getting one from Stanford. … The 2013 season opener at Butler in Indianapolis is 164 days away.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.