The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Tim Ortman (with ball) helped last year's sprint football team finish undefeated. [Will Burhop/DP File Photo]

Last year he captained the Penn sprint football team. Last year he won the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award. Last year he was named first-team All-CSFL.

Last weekend he came back.

And he wasn't alone.

John Clarke, a 2001 Penn graduate, returned to be a part of Penn sprint football's annual Alumni Weekend.

Record-holding giants Tim Ortman (3,670 rushing yards), Clinton Schmidt (760 receiving yards) and John Kernan (1,441 passing yards), to name a few, joined Clark and a host of sprint football players from the past to test the talent of this year's squad.

"This was one of strongest alumni contingencies the team has seen in a long time," current Penn senior Mark Zimring said.

Living up to their legacies, the former Penn athletes gave the current Quakers quite a fight. But in the end, the younger team outdid their elders by one touchdown, 26-19.

"It was definitely good to beat them," junior Mark Gannon said. "We were a little concerned before the game. They had a lot of talent this year. But once we got in the game, we settled ourselves and played well. It was definitely a lot more exciting than past alumni games."

For two 45-minute halves, a one-point, back-and-forth battle marked the contest.

But in the Quakers' final possession, sophomore quarterback Jimmer Donapel connected with Gannon on a 70-yard screen pass, ending in a touchdown. The alumni were unable to score when they got the ball back, and the young guys escaped with the victory.

"It was a really good game," Penn coach Bill Wagner said. "There was a great alumni showing, and all the guys played really hard."

Although the alumni game doesn't go on the books, it was used as a tool to mend Penn's mistakes in its season opener and to prepare for its next contest this Friday against Princeton.

"There were a lot of holes to fill from our game at Cornell," senior Steve Willard said. "[At the alumni game] we filled those holes. We executed."

"Both sides of the ball played really well," Zimring said. "We came together and made a lot of progress since the Cornell game, and we're looking forward to Princeton."

Last year Clarke was there to help the Quakers beat Princeton. This year he was only here to play in one game, and was honored with the alumni game ball.

"We waited a year to come back out to play against the guys we played with," Clarke said. "It's weird coming back on the other side, but it's a great thing. Wagner keeps it going."

It will keep going. And soon many of the guys Clarke played with on the 2000 undefeated team will join him on the other side.

Clarke won't be coming back to play against the guys he suited up with but against guys that wear his and his teammates' old numbers -- players who, they hope, will continue to keep the sprint football tradition alive.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.