On Saturday, Princeton football will open its 149th season at home against San Diego (1–1). This will be the start of the Tigers’ battle to defend the Ivy League title that they achieved last year. In the preseason poll, Princeton was tied with Harvard, both receiving 120 points; however, the Tigers received more first-place votes than the Crimson. Penn, the team that Princeton shared last year’s Ivy League title with, was right behind Princeton and Harvard with 110 points and five first-place votes, the same number that the Crimson earned.
Instrumental to the Tigers’ success last season were its rushing offense and defense, two categories in which they lead the Ivy League. On the offensive side of the ball, All-American senior quarterback John Lovett, also the reigning Bushnell Cup winner and the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, was critical to leading Princeton’s rushing offense. Last season, he broke Princeton’s single-rushing record with 20 touchdowns, in large part thanks to an offensive line that now returns four of its five starters from last year. Most important to this line is first-team All-Ivy League senior left tackle Mitchell Sweigart, who has started the entirety of the last two seasons at left tackle. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Lovett will be out on Saturday after having surgery during the offseason.
Fortunately, though, Princeton has played a two-quarterback system for the last few seasons, and the second half of that system, senior quarterback Chad Kanoff, is looking to show off his arm for the Tigers. Currently, Kanoff sits at fifth on the all-time passing leaders’ list at 4,036 yards. Doug Butler ’86 leads the list at 7,291 yards, followed by Matt Verbit ’05 with 5,202 yards, and in third, Jason Garrett ’89 has 4,274 yards. If Kanoff is able to move into third on the list – he needs 238 yards to do so –he’ll have the most passing yards for Princeton while also starting for a team that won the Ivy League championship. On defense, senior tri-captain Kurt Holuba, a defensive lineman, will be looking to lead the way. Last season, he was a finalist for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year with eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Holuba’s leadership will be very important for a defense that will likely have eight new starters from last season’s unit. He won’t be doing this alone, as senior cornerback Chance Melancon will be helping by leading the defensive backfield. When Melancon started his first game last year in week 3, the Tigers went 7–1 the rest of the way.
Saturday’s game will kick off at noon at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. If you are unable to make it down to the stadium, the game will be televised on Eleven Sports and streamed on the Ivy League Network and on the radio at WPRB 103.3 FM.