2013 Penn football banquet recap

On Friday, Penn football held its annual postseason banquet to celebrate the team’s 2012 Ivy League championship, honor the seniors, and hand out the individual awards to the outstanding performers from 2012. Here is a rundown of who took home the accolades from Friday night:

Edgar Church Memorial Award (Biggest Overall Contributor)
The team’s letterwinners voted for senior quarterback Billy Ragone to receive the Edgar Church Memorial Award. Ragone started nine games for the 2012 Ivy League champions. The honorable mention All-Ivy quarterback ranked sixth in the Ivy League in total offense, seventh in passing yards and ninth in rushing. He finished the season 118-of-210 passing for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for 476 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team with 1,764 yards of total offense.

Chuck Bednarik Award (Most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen)
Senior offensive lineman Joe Bonadies and senior defensive tackle Taylor Brown took home the Chuck Bednarik Award for their fantastic work in the trenches this season. Bonadies was a first-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy selection, as he started all 10 games at right tackle for the second consecutive season. Brown started all 10 games on the defensive side for the second straight year, recording three sacks along with eight tackles for loss.

George Munger Award (Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Players)
Named after Penn's Hall of Fame coach, the George Munger Award was given to senior running back Lyle Marsh and senior captain Brandon Copeland. Marsh was a second-team All-Ivy selection as he led Penn and finished eighth in the Ivy League in rushing with 515 yards, finding the endzone six times. He also led Penn with 791 all-purpose yards, while his 5.4 yards per carry ranked fifth all-time at Penn in a single season. Copeland was Penn's first solo captain in 15 years and was named first-team All-Ivy. The defensive lineman led Penn and finished seventh in the Ivy League with five sacks and was second on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss.

Reds Bagnell Award (Unsung Heroes)
Senior tight end Ryan Allen and senior linebacker Steve Lias were handed the Reds Bagnell Award, named after Hall of Fame running back Francis (Reds) Bagnell. Allen played in all 10 games and finished the season with nine catches for 107 yards and 11.9 yards per catch. Lias started all 10 games for the Quakers, finishing with 43 tackles on the year in addition to three tackles for loss and two sacks.

George A. Weiss Award (Demonstrating “Pennsylvania kind of football”)
Junior offensive lineman Chris Bush
was honored to receive the George A. Weiss Award, given to the player who best displays the toughness and determination that represents the "Pennsylvania kind of football." Bush was a second-team All-Ivy selection and Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area honoree. He started nine games at center for the Ivy League champions and played through injury during most of Penn's season-ending four-game winning streak.

Football Club Award (Distinct Athletic Achievement)
The Football Club Award was given to junior wide receiver Conner Scott on offense, senior cornerback Dave Twamley on defense, and senior punter Scott Lopano on special teams. Sophomore tight end Mitchell King and sophomore linebacker Dan Davis also received the award as offensive and defensive rookies. Scott had 52 receptions for 691 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Twamley earned second-team All-Ivy and Academic All-Area honors as he led the team with 43 solo tackles. Lopano set Penn's career records for punts (184) and punt yards (7,111), while King played in all 10 games and finished with six catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

 Coach Lake Award (Leadership, Team Spirit, and Penn Pride)
Awarded for the first time in 2010, the Lake Award is presented in honor of Coach Dan "Lake" Staffieri, a team motivator for 33 seasons. Senior running back Jeff Jack was the recipient of the award for the 2012 season. Jack played in all 10 games, starting the last seven for the Red and Blue. He ran for 413 yards and had four rushing touchdowns on the season.

Man of the Year Award
Along with the awards given to the athletes, Hench Murray, C'66, GEd'67, was named the Man of the Year for his continued dedication to and support of Penn's football program. Murray played baseball while attending Penn, and has served as the color analyst for the football team for 33 seasons.

Chuck Bednarik statue to be unveiled Nov. 19

bednarikThe long-awaited Chuck Bednarik statue is finally coming to Franklin Field. Wednesday, Penn Athletics announced that the formal dedication and unveiling of the statue will take place November 19 before the Quakers' final home game of the season at 1 p.m. against Cornell. According to a press release, "the statue will be located inside Gate 2 on the North side of Franklin Field, and will be complemented by a collage honoring the history of the Philadelphia Eagles during their time playing at Franklin Field (1958-70)."

Bednarik played for Penn from 1945-48, starting at center and linebacker for three seasons. Known as "Concrete Charlie," he earned first-team All-America honors his first two seasons, then won the Maxwell Award and finished third in the Heisman trophy race during his senior year. After graduating, Bednarik was chosen as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 14 seasons for the Eagles -- with home games at Franklin Field -- and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

The press release also detailed information about the statue's sculptor, official Basketball Hall of Fame sculptor Brian Hanlon, and the fundraising efforts that ultimately brought the statue to Franklin Field:

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Updates on two other summer stories

Penn Gazette Sports

Two more stories we followed this summer took significant steps forward Wednesday.

1) "It has been a slow process with a few detours, but the campaign to raise money for a Chuck Bednarik statue at Franklin Field is finally coming together," CSNPhilly.com's football guru Ray Didinger wrote this morning. Didinger also wrote that former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil is leading the effort, along with a few of Concrete Charlie's former Eagles teammates. The group is still looking for contributions toward the statue, which Cal discussed in June, and checks can be made to Don Snyder, Director of Development Services, Weightman Hall, 235 S. 33rd Street, Philadelphia, 19104 -- payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania with "For Bednarik Statue Fund" in the memo line. The Quakers and Eagles legend from the '40s, '50s and '60s certainly deserves it.

2) Penn grad Paul Cusick made his debut for the Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters last night, throwing a scoreless eighth inning with one hit allowed and one strikeout in a 4-2 victory. The righthander was called up from the Gulf Coast League last week after posting a 4.14 ERA in 37 innings for the Phillies' Rookie Level squad. The promotion itself was a good sign for the Phillies' 29th round draft pick, but continued success in Williamsport could help him catch a few eyes before the minor-league seasons end.

Getting Concrete Charlie in Bronze

Statues at Penn come in pretty much one mold: Ben Franklin. There's young Ben Franklin outside of Weightman Hall, Ben Missing a Button in front of College Hall, and everyone's favorite Ben Franklin Reading on a Bench at 37th and Locust. But if some avid Eagles and Penn fans have any say, that won't be true for long.

A great article in the Philly Daily News today detailed the saga of getting a statue for Penn great and Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik. Plans have apparently been in the works for some time to get Concrete Charlie — a lineman from Bethlehem, Pa., three time All-American for Penn and third-place finisher in the Heisman balloting in 1948 — in Bronze outside of Franklin Field. Bednarik was on the 1960 NFL Championship team that, as Penn historians know, also played at Franklin Field.

With a player so respected and tied to the stadium at 33rd and Spruce, a statue in his likeness there would seem incredibly appropriate. But as you may have guessed, there's one thing standing in the way: Money. A statue can cost as much as $100,000, according to the Inquirer article, and it's hard for Penn and the Athletic Dept. to prioritize money, even from gifts, towards a statue, even for someone like Bednarik:

The process for conceiving, financing and crafting statues is time-consuming and costly, which might explain why Penn director of athletics Steve Bilsky has declined to commit to a Bednarik statue other than to drop hints that it is a splendid idea that might or might not be carried through to fruition.

Bednarik, now 86, told the Daily News he would be thrilled to see himself cast at Franklin Field, and apparently an artist has done some preliminary work on the project, saying he was ready to move full steam ahead as soon as Penn committed to it. There was even a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives looking to build support for a Bednarik statue last year.

One comment on the Daily News' article suggested that if Eagles' fans could publicly donate to the cause, the statue would be paid for in minutes.

But until the funds are raised, supporters of the statue are going Bednarik or bust.

Eagles-Packers rematch with link to Penn’s Franklin Field

In anticipation of today's Eagles-Packers NFC wildcard playoff game in Philadelphia, the New York Times ran an interesting piece (which happens to be quite Penn-centric) on Thursday about the 50-year anniversary of the Eagles-Packers NFL Championship Game. According to the article, the game was moved from Sunday December 25, 1960 to the 26th "given the belief ... that Christmas should be a day for devotion and family, not sports." As the article notes, things are quite different with regard to that nowadays (see: NBA).

But anyway, the game for all the marbles took place on Penn's own Franklin Field and the Eagles, who defeated "The Pack," 17-13, (Coach Vince Lombardi's only playoff loss), were led by center — and linebacker — Chuck Bednarik (center, no.60, pictured below after the game). The Hall of Famer, as many may know, began his collegiate football career here at Penn in 1945 after serving a few highly distinguished years in the military during WWII. And it was Bednarik who recorded a shared tackle to end the game. Side note: Bednarik's own story, including his military service, is very intriguing — see this short clip from a documentary.

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Also, for those looking to learn more about Franklin Field, the DP's Sebastian Stockman wrote this quite informative piece on Franklin Field's history back in 2001, which features some quotes from the legendary Bednarik himself.

So with that dose of history, enjoy the game today and impress your friends with some Penn trivia related to the matchup.

Random Ivy notes for 10/26

I know it's been a while, but here's a Random Ivy notes:

1) Sure it's been beaten to death many times before, but here's another column decrying the Ivy League's ban on football postseason play. I've already stated I'm pro-football playoffs, and won't rehash the arguments. But this column, written by someone from Delaware of all places, emphatically believes it's "the dumbest, most unfair rule in sports" that the Ivy champion can't play in the FCS playoffs. (Some background: when he's talking about Delaware playing Delaware State, he's referring to the Blue Hen's refusal to play their in-state rivals.)

2) As a hard-hitting linebacker (and center) for Penn and the Eagles, Chuck Bednarik probably would've liked the Penn-Yale game Saturday that ended 9-0. He actually was present at Franklin Field, signing copies of an oral history about him. Although we were told not to talk to him, Soft Pretzel Logic got a short video interview with the Philadelphia legend.

3) The Cornell Basketball Blog has an index of season previews, and not surprisingly the Big Red are the consensus preseason No. 1 Ivy team. Penn's preseason ranking is extremely more volatile, ranging from second to seventh.