As the football season approaches its conclusion, it will be Bulldogs’ first without a captain in the team’s 140-year history. But players said that the new “team leader” system has had little effect on the team’s culture and performance.

Linebacker Will McHale ’13 was unanimously voted captain of the team last winter, but he lost the title in August after he was charged with punching another student at Toad’s Place in May. Nevertheless, McHale has maintained the role and duties of a captain throughout the season, still leading practices and deciding many of the plays in games. The only responsibility that was transferred to the team leader, elected each week by the players, was the opening coin toss and pregame speech.

“To be honest, [the team dynamic] hasn’t changed much, in my opinion,” wide receiver Henry Furman ’14 said.
Furman and nose guard Chris Dooley ’13 said the choice of captain is mostly honorary and likely had a negligible effect on the outcome of their games this season. They added they do not expect it to affect their prospects at the upcoming Harvard-Yale Game.

Team leaders have all come from the senior class and are usually elected based on strong performances over the course of the season or in the previous week. Dooley, the team leader for the Bulldogs’ win over Penn, said that being selected for the position was not as important to him as the outcome of the match. Still, he added that his brother had attended Penn and he knew the Quaker captain well, making the experience special for him.

Other elected team leaders this season were running back Mordecai Cargill ’13, offensive lineman Roy Collins ’13, linebackers Brian Leffler ’13 and Wes Moyer ’13, defensive tackle Nick Daffin ’13 and defensive backs Collin Bibb ’13, John Powers ’13 and Kurt Stottlemyer ’13.

Despite McHale’s lack of an official title, Furman said the team still respects him as their leader and mentor, and many team members still refer to McHale as their captain.

“The young people still look up to Will as a role model,” Furman said. “Will had earned the honor to be captain, and we didn’t want to have two guys going back and forth [on important decision-making].”

McHale declined to comment for this article, and head coach Tony Reno was unable to be reached.

The team’s captain for next season will be elected Friday night and announced on Monday.