Photo courtesy of Dartmouth Varsity Athletics Communications
PRINCETON, N.J. — The 2012 Ivy League football postseason awards mixed in a little of the old with a little of the new.
Fresh on the college gridiron this year, Dartmouth freshman quarterback Dalyn Williams (Corinth, Texas) made his impact known with a late-season surge that vaulted him to Ivy League Rookie of Year honors. He becomes the seventh Big Green player to be bestowed the award and the first since Josh Dooley took home the honor in 2002.
Williams’ contributions were not necessarily overly superlative early in the season, but they were felt in a major way when Dartmouth needed it. Pressed into the starting role behind center in the seventh game of the season after sophomore Alex Park went down to injury, he took over the reigns with the leadership of a veteran, throwing for 160 yards and two touchdowns and running for 96 yards and a third score to lead the Big Green to victory over its colorful compadres from Ithaca. In three games as the starter, Williams threw for 684 yards on 52-of-82 passing and six touchdowns and ran for another 163 yards on 44 carries and two touchdowns. Just as impressively, he did not throw an interception over that stretch. His 82 pass attempts without an interception is the longest streak for a Big Green quarterback since Alex Jenny had 86 attempts without a pick between the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Appearing in all 10 games, Williams was 73-of-114 for 974 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions as a passer and was the team’s second-leading rusher with 262 yards on 89 carries and three touchdowns.
The Dartmouth rookie was not the only newbie to shine in his first season, as Princeton’s two-way threat Anthony Gaffney (Columbus, N.J.) showed. Gaffney was the only freshman to be named first-team All-Ivy and the only player selected to the first team at two positions — at defensive back and as a return specialist. In his first season wearing the black and orange, the Columbus, N.J., native had his statement game in just his third collegiate contest and his first-ever Ivy League matchup against Columbia. Gaffney took the opening kickoff 94 yards to hush the home crowd and put his visiting Tigers on the board just 51 seconds into the game. He followed that play with two more big plays — two fourth-quarter interceptions — to spark Princeton to its first road win since its 2009 season finale. Gaffney ended 2012 leading the League in kick return average at 25.9 yards per return, adding 35 tackles (26 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and six pass break-ups as a starter in the Tigers’ secondary.
Not to be outdone, the “old” of the Ancient Eight posted outstanding performances of their own, many final season of college football. Stalwarts like Brown senior defensive back AJ Cruz (Lake Forest, Calif.) and Penn senior defensive lineman Brandon Copeland (Sykeville, Md.) each received first-team All-Ivy accolades for the third time, becoming the 40th and 41st players in League history to achieve the feat.
Cruz, a unanimous selection in 2012 after being named to the first team in 2010 and 2011 and second team in 2009, was second in tackles for the Bears with 71, including tying for the team lead with 41 solo stops. He was tied for second in the conference in interceptions (4) and passes defended (1.0 per game). Copeland continued to be a beast up front for the Quakers with 8.5 tackles for loss among his 51 total tackles to go along with five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Joining Cruz as unanimous first-team choices were Cornell senior wide receiver Luke Tasker (East Aurora, N.Y.) and senior offensive lineman J.C. Tretter (Akron, N.Y.), Harvard junior tight end Cameron Brate (Naperville, Ill.), senior linebacker Joshua Boyd (Hyde Park, Mass.) and senior H-back Kyle Juszczyk (Medina, Ohio) and Princeton senior defensive linemen and fellow New York natives Mike Catapano (Bayville, N.Y.) and Caraun Reid (Bronx, N.Y.).
A converted tight end, Tretter has anchored the left side of the Big Red offensive line at tackle, starting there the final 20 games of his career. He has been responsible for protecting the blind side of junior quarterback Jeff Mathews, a 2012 second-team All-Ivy selection and the 2011 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, who has set numerous Cornell and Ivy League passing records. Tasker was Mathews’ favorite target this season with a League-leading 75 catches and 1,207 yards.
Tasker’s eight touchdown receptions tied Juszczyk for tops among Ivy receivers. Juszczyk is an All-America candidate once again this season after leading the team with 52 receptions for 706 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, he set the mark for all Harvard tight ends with 125 catches for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns. Brate was the other half of the Crimson’s lethal receiving tandem with 41 grabs and 592 yards and six touchdowns. Boyd, just named Harvard’s 140th captain for the 2013 season, was all over the field for one of the nation’s stingiest defenses with 67 tackles (30 solo), five tackles for loss, two sacks, five passes defended, six quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Reid joined Juszczyk as the only other first-teamer being honored for the second-straight year. He and Catapano were bookends forming a formidable Tiger front which combined for 81 tackles, 25 of them for lost yardage, 17.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles. Catapano recorded six passes defended on his own, while Reid was responsible for three blocked kicks and a safety.
Harvard totalled 10 players on the first team as the senior quintet of running back Treavor Scales (Stone Mountain, Ga.), quarterback Colton Chapple (Alpharetta, Ga.) offensive linemen John Collins (Hull, Mass.) and Jack Holuba (Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.) and punter Jacob Dombrowski (Gaylor, Mich.), along with junior placekicker David Mothander (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), all garnered first-team recognition for the first time in their careers.
Scales joined Cruz as the only two players to receive first- or second-team honors all four seasons as he was named to the second team each of his first three seasons. He capped an impressive career with his first 1,000-yard season (1,002 yards), also making him the only Ivy Leaguer to reach the milestone this season. For his career, he gained over 2,800 yards on the ground, 3,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 29 touchdowns — the second-most rushing touchdowns in school history.
Chapple finished the season as the second-rated passer in the country. He set Harvard’s single-season record for touchdown passes, totaling 24 to surpass the previous high-water mark of 18. He also set the school’s single-season record for total offense (3,169 yards).
Collins, who started 20-straight games to close his career and Holuba, who started 18-straight, anchored the Crimson’s offensive front that ended the season ranked fourth nationally in scoring offense with an Ivy-League record 39.4 points per game.
Dombroski and Mothander each led the League at their respective kicking expertise as Dombroski averaged 44.0 yards a punt with six touchbacks and Mothander was responsible for 70 points, including going 52-of-54 on PAT attempts.
Ivy League champion Penn put up the second-most first-team All-Ivy picks with five, followed by Brown and Dartmouth with four players each, Princeton with three (in four positions), Columbia and Cornell with two each and Yale with one.
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) and the Ivy League are partnering for the third-consecutive year to co-host the presentation of the Asa S. Bushnell Cup on Monday, Dec. 3 at 12:30 p.m. as part of the festivities surrounding the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City.
The Asa S. Bushnell Cup which honors the Ivy League Football Players of the Year, will be presented the day before the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, at a special reception and press conference in the Vanderbilt Room of the famed Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.
George Pyne, NFF Board Member and President of IMG Worldwide’s Sports & Entertainment Group, will once again emcee the event, which will feature two offensive and two defensive finalists along with their respective head coaches. Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris will be on hand to unveil the winners’ names in front of a packed crowd of media representatives, NFF Board members and notable Ivy League football alumni and dignitaries.
The two offensive and two defensive finalists will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 27 on IvyLeagueSports.com.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Dalyn Williams, Dartmouth (Fr., QB – Corinth, Texas)