Aug. 11, 2009

By Amy Farnum

Harvard University was voted to the top spot of the Ivy League Preseason Poll as the Crimson seeks their third straight title in 2009.

The Crimson compiled a 9-1 mark last season, and 6-1 record in League play, and will look to be the first Ivy team since Dartmouth in 1990-92 to win three straight crowns.  Last year, Harvard became just the eighth team in Ivy history to recover from an opening League loss and win the title.

"The bottom line is, regardless of where we are in the poll, we have high expectations and set the bar very high," said head coach Tim Murphy. "Having said that, all Ivy teams have outstanding coaches and quality personnel. A season often comes down to one or two plays that can make or break it."

Harvard has posted the second-highest winning percentage (.775) in the Football Championship Subdivision since 2000.  Over the past five seasons, Harvard is 41-9.  The Crimson has recorded at least seven wins in each of the last eight years, making Harvard the first team in the history of Ivy League football to post such a string of successful seasons.  Harvard opens 2009 at Holy Cross Sept. 19.

SIDELINED:  Appalachian State quarterback and 2008 Walton Payton Award winner Armanti Edwards will miss 2 to 4 weeks of practice after suffering a foot injury on Aug. 5 while mowing the lawn at his off-campus residence.

Edwards is expected to return to practice in time to prepare for the team’s opener at East Carolina on Sept. 5.  Sophomore quarterback DeAndre Presley is taking the majority of the snaps with the first team in Edwards’ absence.

PANTHER PROWESS: Northern Iowa senior James Ruffin is one of 30 preseason candidates on the 2009 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award watch list – the only player that hails from the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

The native of Burnsville, Minn., garnered All-American and first team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference after leading the league with 18 tackles for loss, along with 10 sacks and 69 tackles. 

The award is determined according to on-field performance, exceptional winning attitude, leadership abilities, contributions to school and community and academic preparedness by a panel of voters.

The Panthers are the preseason favorite to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference.  They shared the title with Southern Illinois last year.

TRUE PATRIOT: Holy Cross senior quarterback Dominic Randolph was chosen as the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after earning the regular season award for the last two seasons.

Randolph – also a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award – threw for 3,838 yards and 34 touchdowns last year.  The native of Amelia, Ohio, is the Patriot League all-time leader in completions (821) and touchdown passes (83), and needs less than 150 yards to surpass the League’s passing and total offense yardage marks.

Holy Cross is vying for its first Patriot League title since 1991 behind a team that returns 15 starters from last year’s squad.