By: Rick Bender
HANOVER, N.H. — Although the 2020 Dartmouth football season will not be played this fall with the suspension of all competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Phil Steele kept hopes alive for Ivy League football to be played this spring by announcing its Preseason All-Ivy League Teams today. The Big Green received a total of 13 selections with one player — fifth-year senior Drew Estrada — being listed at four positions scattered among the three teams.
Estrada, an All-Ivy League wide receiver and return specialist in 2019, found himself on the first team as an all-purpose player, second team at wide receiver and punt returner, and third team as a kickoff returner. The 6-0, 190-pound athlete enters his final season at Dartmouth ranked among the top 15 players in program history in receptions (110), receiving yards (1,418) and all-purpose yards (2,392). Last year the native of Argyle, Texas, led the conference and ranked 13th nationally in all-purpose yards per game (137.1) while averaging the sixth-most catches (5.1) in the Ancient Eight and fourth-most receiving yards (82.7). To top off his accomplishments, Estrada was also fourth in the FCS in punt return average (17.0 yards).
The other first-team nod went to cornerback Darren Stanley a year after he was named to the All-Ivy League Second Team. Hailing from Conway, South Carolina, the 5-10, 185-pound senior ranked seventh in the nation in passes defended per game (1.5). Twice Stanley batted away four pass attempts in a game, and he picked off one pass and amassed 23 tackles during the season.
Joining Estrada on the second team on offense was 6-2, 265-pound center Evan Hecimovich out of Lisle, Illinois. Another second-team selection in 2019, Hecimovich has developed into the premier center in the Ivy League, serving as the keystone for a line that allowed the 21st-ranked Big Green to rank second nationally in passing efficiency and third in third-down conversion percentage, not to mention 20th in fewest sacks allowed last season.
Safety Niko Mermigas was the lone Dartmouth defensive player to earn recognition on the second team. The hard-hitting native of Wexford, Pennsylvania, supplied 47 tackles for the Big Green last year, fourth most on the team, plus broke up five passes, intercepted a pass and forced a fumble to earn honorable mention a year ago.
Dartmouth had one other second-team selection in place kicker Connor Davis. Hailing from Ocala, Florida, the rising junior was perfect on his PATs last season, setting a Big Green record with 43 conversions without a miss, befitting the son of a former Lou Groza Award winner. He also split the uprights on 6-of-9 field goal attempts, hitting from as far out as 42 yards on two occasions.
Five players were named to the third team along with Estrada: senior quarterback Derek Kyler (DeKalb, Illinois), senior tight end Jake Guidone (East Walpole, Massachusetts) and junior lineman John Paul Flores (Arlington, Texas) on offense, along with senior lineman Seth Simmer (Powder Springs, Georgia) and senior cornerback DeWayne Terry Jr. (Miami, Florida) on defense.
The organization also listed its choices for Preseason Players of the Year, selecting Brown quarterback E.J. Perry on offense and Princeton linebacker Jeremiah Tyler on the other side of the ball.
The Big Green finished the 2019 season with a 9-1 overall record and 6-1 mark in the Ivy League to earn a share of its 19th conference crown, most in conference history.