What a year the Harvard football team had. The Crimson earned a share of the Ivy League crown by going 9-1 and had two local players on the roster in junior defensive tackle Ryan Delisle and senior defensive back Chris Splinter, the latter of whom was named to the honorable mention All-Ivy team.
A Marblehead resident, Delisle was a three-year starter in high school at tight end, linebacker and defensive end for St. John’s Prep. He was a captain and two-time All-Catholic Conference star.
Splinter, who is from Middleton and starred at Masconomet Regional, was also a captain and twice named the Cape Ann League’s MVP. A three-sport standout, he had over 2,500 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns in high school. An engineering science major, Splinter played in all 10 games for Harvard this year with 29 tackles and two interceptions.
“We had a great year,” said Delisle, an economic major with plans for a career in finance, specializing in venture capital. “We went into the season knowing that we’d be a contender and things went well right from the start.
“I really like playing defensive tackle. At first I was apprehensive and thought I might be too small, but I gained weight through a new lifting program we have.”
Harvard traveled to California to play San Diego in the season opener, winning 42-20. Wins over Brown, Holy Cross, Cornell and Lafayette followed before the Crimson lost their only game, 51-48, to Princeton.
“We had a couple of really close ones,” said Delisle. “We had to go three overtimes against Holy Cross (41-35), and that loss to Princeton was tough. It would have been nice to win, but luckily Dartmouth beat them in the last game of the season, so we shared the title.”
Harvard finished the season on a roll, beating Dartmouth by three points (24-21), blanking Columbia (34-0), getting by Penn (38-30) and handling Yale, 34-7 in the 130th game of their storied rivalry. Coach Tim Murphy has now won six Ivy championships and is the winningest coach in the school’s history.
The Crimson also set an Ivy League record after the 13th consecutive season with at least a .700 winning percentage.
“We had a lot of young guys step up,” said Delisle. “Of course we missed some of our best players from a year ago (when they went 8-2) like Kyle Juszczyk, who is now in the NFL playing fullback for the Baltimore Ravens.”
Delisle was 6-foot-3, 225 pounds as a freshman, but has bulked up to 270 pounds. He feels more comfortable at defensive tackle now.
“We had a little time off after the Yale game, but we’ll start getting training to get ready for next year this week,” he said. “Our workouts are four days a week at 6 a.m., but I’m used to it now. I’ll keep working through the spring and summer with an hour of lifting and an hour running every day. Sometimes it’s speed; some days the focus is on overall conditioning.
“We have a lot coming back with experience because a lot of our younger guys were able to play this season, so we should be strong once again.”
Delisle returned to the Prep campus on Thanksgiving and had a chance to visit with a lot of his former teammates. “It was great to connect with so many I don’t get to see during the year,” he said. “A lot of us didn’t get to celebrate last season’s Super Bowl, and we wanted to congratulate the coaches and players. These guys battled through all the adversity this season and almost upset Xaverian (on the holiday).”
Freshman Nick Bates is getting a lot of playing time on the basketball court at Salve Regina. The Seahawks are off to their best start ever at 5-1, and the former Danvers High star has played in all six games, starting three.
Salve Regina beat Wentworth, 61-53, in its Commonwealth Coast Conference opener earlier this week. They opened up a close game with a 14-5 run and took a 10-point lead after a Bates basket.
Bates has been averaging 6.5 points and five rebounds per game for the Seahawks, with seven steals and six blocks. Against Wentworth the 6-foot-1 forward started and played 31 minutes, hitting three of the four shots he attempted.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.