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Big Green back on gridiron

  • Dartmouth College Football Head Coach Buddy Teevens watches a kick by senior Connor Davis, left, after snapping the ball to junior Ryan Bloch, right, during the team's second practice of the season in Hanover, N.H., Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Quarterback Derek Kyler, center, receives a snap from offensive lineman Evan Hecimovich, 61, during practice in Hanover, N.H., Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Quarterback Nick Howard runs the ball during Dartmouth College Football practice at the Graham Indoor Practice Facility in Hanover, N.H., Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Dartmouth College Football holds its second practice of the season at the Graham Indoor Practice Facility in Hanover, N.H., Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2021 9:36:57 PM
Modified: 8/24/2021 9:34:37 PM

HANOVER — The last time Dartmouth College football took the field, they left as 2019 Ivy League co-champions.

The Big Green’s title defense finally began on Sunday, as they opened practice for the 2021 campaign.

The team was excited to be back together for the first practice after nearly two years apart. For senior cornerback Isaiah Johnson, stepping back on the field with his teammates felt surreal.

“It was the first time we had the team all together back on campus and on the field. So I feel like right there, everybody was kind of just taking in the moment. I don’t think anybody even took the practice for granted,” Johnson said. “The energy was great. Everybody wanted to be out there. Everybody was running around. It was one of those things where you could tell the whole team missed football. So it was really nice.”

Dartmouth practiced with high energy both Sunday and Monday.

Head coach Buddy Teevens is using technology to help ensure his players don’t let the adrenaline of being back together cause them to overexert themselves.

The team is using GPS devices to monitor player movement, and he said the numbers were extremely high after Sunday’s practice.

Teevens made a point of blowing his whistle to end plays quickly during Monday’s practie to avoid guys running unnecessarily long.

But overall, he said, the high energy is a good thing.

“Guys are flying around, just happy,” Teevens said. “It’s fun to see. If you lose it for a period of time, you appreciate it. I can see the enthusiasm in the coaches as well. We got back to practice, it was kind of a picked up tempo from the coaching staff, too.”

Monday’s practice was significant for another reason.

After a short warmup outside, the team moved inside to the Graham Indoor Practice Facility due to incoming Tropical Depression Henri.

It was the first full-team football practice inside the facility, which was completed in April 2020.

With no air conditioning, it didn’t take long for the field to warm up with 122 players moving around.

The big roster made the space feel cramped for the coaches, but Teevens said his staff did a good job improvising throughout practice.

He told his team to get used to the temperature.

“It was hot (and) humid certainly. We don’t have air conditioning in here, which is fine. But it was just a little bit heated,” Teevens said. “I told the guys, at Valparaiso, it’s going to be like in early September. Just like this.”

Some players had been inside the building for recruiting purposes or other small-group activities, but for many, Monday was their first time ever inside the facility.

Johnson was one of those players.

He agreed that space was a little tight, but he didn’t think it’s a bad thing. He said it will help during game situations when playing in more congested areas on the field.

Johnson said seeing the new facility was a sign of how far the program has come.

“It says we care about our football team,” Johnson said. “It says that our football team matters. It says that our alums are willing to put back and give back to the team, and it says that, if you win, the school notices.”

Like all Dartmouth and Ivy League teams, Big Green football is integrating two classes simultaneously instead of just the freshmen class.

Teevens said that’s tricky, but noted how his upperclassmen have already shown good leadership that the new guys can look up to.

The team retains experience at quarterback going into the season in fifth-year senior Derek Kyler, who played all 10 games as a sophomore and junior. He displayed little sign of rust Monday, showing mobility and accuracy in his passes.

Teevens noted that Kyler, in particular, has been a good influence on the team so far.

“To have a guy that has some seasoning and mantra, you can just see. He’s just relaxed, comfortable, cool, very adept with the offense,” Teevens said. “Kevin Daft has done a great job with him. That composure, it’s experience. He’s been away as well, but what he can draw from settles the team down a little bit.”

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.




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