Here in the east, where legendary figures once strode the gridirons in football's husky, brawling youth, the game is not what it used to be. Maybe the once-great rulers grew weary of winning, or became too civilized. Whatever it was, in the past 25 years the old-line colleges of the Ivy Group, except for sporadic outbursts, have not ranked favorably with other sections in the game. This decline in Ivy football culminated with the decision to give up spring practice. Practically overnight Pennsylvania, Princeton and Cornell—three valiant contenders on the national scene in late years—became pushovers for outside competition. Thus a policy of isolationism became necessary and the Ivy Group became the Ivy League, which goes into effect fully in 1956. Under this setup all the teams will play each other, causing a virtual schedule ban against the strong eastern independents. Let's take a look first at these top independents who uphold the prestige of eastern football on many a far-flung field.
Navy. The Middies' 21-0 win over Pittsburgh last Saturday definitely establishes them as a contender for national honors. George Welsh must be recognized as the best quarterback in Navy history. End Ron Beagle anchors a stalwart line.
Army. Although the injury-riddled Cadets were decimated by Michigan 26-2, they cannot be ruled out as one of the East's top contenders. The line, led by Ralph Chesnauskas, has offensive punch and defensive mobility. Fullback Pat Uebel is tops. All-America End Don Holleder needs more experience at quarterback and he has got to improve in his passing.
Pittsburgh. Beaten by Oklahoma and Navy, the Panthers are nonetheless prowling once again. Quarterback Corny Salvaterra spearheads and directs the offense, while Center John Cenci controls the defensive operations of a large and competent line.
Penn State. The Nittany Lions have a strong running attack from their winged-T formation, but do not have or do not sufficiently use an aerial offensive. The line, led by Tackle Otto Kneidinger, is large and rugged looking. Lenny Moore at halfback can do everything they said he could. Another halfback, Billy Kane, can also go.
Holy Cross. The Crusaders conquered Colgate last Saturday to remain unbeaten. Guard Jim Buonopane is one of the best in the country. Quarterback Jack Stephans gives direction to a speedy and alert backfield.
Boston College. Last season BC cut down on its suicidal intersectional schedule and was generally considered the best team in New England. They will be outmanned only by Miami (Fla.) this season and could get by with just one defeat. Outstanding men are John Miller at tackle and Eddie DeSilva at halfback.
Colgate. After defeating Dartmouth and Cornell, Colgate was finally stopped by Holy Cross in a close affair that could have gone the other way. Quarterback Guy Martin directs the potent attack, which features Frank Nardulli at halfback and Ed White-hair at fullback. End Milt Graham (6 foot 6, 215 pounds) and Tackle Tom Powell are outstanding.
Syracuse. The schedule is deadly, with Army, Maryland and West Virginia the toughest coming up. A good, big veteran line, led by Tackle Jerry Cash-man and End Jim Ridlon. Jimmy Brown is a real powerhouse back. Better passing is sorely needed.
Rutgers. Outstanding men on the squad are End Don Felber, Halfback Bob Kelley, Tackle Ed Evans and Quarterback Bob Gatyas. Much is expected from sophomore Quarterback Bill Whitacre.
Boston University. Buff Donelli had high hopes for his 1955 team but has got off to a disappointing start of three straight losses to Penn State, Connecticut and Syracuse. Captain Ken Hagerstrom at halfback is the outstanding player on the squad. Others to note are John Bredice, end, Lou Lovely, guard, and Mike Abbruzzese, center.
Villanova. It is the same old story at Villanova: overscheduled and undermanned. They were beaten by BC 28-14 Saturday for their third straight loss. The Wildcats must get vastly improved material or a much easier schedule to be able to survive.
Lehigh manpower is better in quality and size but 24 sophomores need experience. Tom Faillace, end, Austin Short, end, and Bruno Pagnani, guard, are best of the returned veterans. Lafayette's outstanding men are Bryan Satterlee, halfback, and Bob Fyvie, tackle. The big problem is the line. At Trinity College Fullback Charley Sticka, spearhead of last year's undefeated season, is back. Three wins so far; could be undefeated again.
Yale. The Elis look like the class team of the Ivies after three straight wins, including Brown and Columbia. Their line is large and rugged, from flankmen Paul Lopata and Vernon Loucks on in. Junior Quarterback Dean Loucks and Sophomore Dick Winterbauer are staging a real battle. Dennis McGill did an outstanding job at halfback against Columbia, and Al Ward is a powerhouse at the other half.
Cornell. After another slow start the Big Red won its opening league game from favored Harvard 20-7. Cornell's backs are the best in the Ivy League, with halfbacks Dick Jackson and Dick Meade and Quarterback Bill De Graaf heading the list. The paper-thin line is led by Stan Intihar, ineligible last year.
Princeton. The Tigers are the best-balanced team in the league. Coach Charley Caldwell's single-wing offensive scheme is smooth and difficult for the opposition's defense. Tackle Mike Bowman leads an improving line. If Royce Flippin returns to top form after his injuries, the Tigers could take it all.
Harvard. Harvard, despite the loss to Cornell, remains a powerhouse football team that plays with solid fundamental skills. Captain Bill Meigs at guard bulwarks an excellent line defense. Tailbacks Jim Joslin and Matt Botsford and Fullback Tony Gianelly form a fine backfield nucleus.
Columbia. Lou Little has put the accent on the air arm to take maximum advantage ol Quarterback Claude Benham's talents—but air is an unstable medium and the Lions were let down 46-14 by Yale. Sophomore Ed Spraker at halfback is injured but has shown great early-season form. Reserve strength as usual is shallow. Line defense looks weak.
Brown. Twenty-two lettermen out of 29 were lost. After dropping two thrillers to Columbia and Yale, Brown beat Dartmouth 7-0. Jim McGuiness would be a standout tackle on any team. Archie Williams and Don Thompson are solid halfbacks.
Dartmouth. New Coach Bob Black-man has lost some heartbreakers to Colgate, Holy Cross and Brown. Passing has been the forte, with Bill Beagle doing the pitching, but the running and defensive play must improve.
Pennsylvania. The once-omnipotent Quakers lost to Princeton 7-0. As usual they have a backbreaking schedule. Fred Dustin, tackle, and Stan Chaplin, fullback, are the best veterans on this sophomore-heavy squad.
Amherst looks like a solid favorite to win the Little Three for the fourth straight year. Tackle Harry Steuber and Bob King at center are standouts in a rugged line. Williams is predominantly a sophomore team. Halfback Tim Hanan is the outstanding man. Wesleyan is happy, with a good group of sophomores and a fine backfield. However, Coach Norm Daniels would like a little more heft in the line.
At this writing Rhode Island and New Hampshire look like the class of the Yankee Conference and, incidentally, they have already met and tied 13-13. Rhode Island Coach Harold Kopp tells me that Eddie Simone is a great halfback. New Hampshire has lost the fabulous Billy Pappas at quarterback, but Marcel Couture, who averaged 9.1 yards per thrust last year, leads a dangerous set of running backs, and the line will be sufficient. Connecticut, conqueror of Boston U and Massachusetts, looks a strong third and possible winner if hard-luck 205-pound Fullback Buddy Amendola can escape the injury jinx for the season. Maine, with 16 lettermen returned, is well equipped to take the Maine state title in round-robin play at the end of the season. Vermont must be satisfied with a rebuilding year, although they still boast of the prowess of Captain Edwin Beck at halfback who led New England scorers last season. Massachusetts has a squad with speed and depth but little game experience.