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Zero yards, insults, and the hitman

Words on Sport/

David Rothstein->

Zero yards,

insults, and

the hitman

"When I'm on the field," says the football team's inside linebacker and tri-captain Darcy Prather '91, "I think, `zero yards.' Every yard the other team gets is an insult."

An insult.

Talk to Darcy Prather after a game -- as this reporter did in the locker room after Saturday's 28-0 win over Siena College, access graciously granted by head coach Dwight Smith -- and you wonder how you can insult this unassuming, mustached, bespectacled guy. Someone who speaks in complete sentences, doesn't grunt in poly-syllables, and wishes you a good weekend.

Then move a bit into the past. Rain, rain all night and day. A soggy, mudslinging Steinbrenner Stadium field. And look at No. 56, Darcy Prather, roaming the defensive line and backfield. Watch an opponent's play develop. And listen as No. 56 -- as often as not, he's in there -- breaks the play.

Prather is MIT's hitman.

stars

Born in Hazlewood, MO, the six-foot, 185-pound (and, yes, that probably is his real weight) senior, double-majoring in electrical engineering and STS, has won all sorts of awards. 1989 Player of the Year. 1988 and 1989 Defensive Players of the year. 1987 second-team all-conference player. 1988 and 1989 first-team all-conference player.

1988 and 1989 Pizza Hut All-American honorable mention. (Sounds corny, maybe, but it's a big honor. Especially here.)

In Saturday's game Prather had 15 tackles, mostly in the first half.

Three weeks ago he made 23 tackles, including 11 solo, in a loss against Assumption College.

But Prather is not all about statistics.

"Above and beyond the stats," says coach Smith, "[Prather] kept the defense up when they were down" during the team's first three losses.

Leadership is nothing new to Prather, but he says that this year he "found the leadership role [as tri-captain] difficult."

"What am I doing?" asks Prather. "Should I yell more? What should I do?"

Prather does not show this sort of hesitation on the field. He knew that the Beavers were going to win.

"It was just a question of when we're going to get our act together," he says. "The last couple of weeks it looked like we were improving."

stars

Saturday was almost a perfect football day, if a little on the warm side. It had rained the night before, and rain broke from the cloudy sky during the first half. The field was messy. But the Beavers were not. They pushed through the Siena line seemingly at will up the middle, while the Saints were certainly not marching anywhere.

Early in the third quarter, Siena quarterback Bob Facto took a slide to avoid Prather's rush. Some of the MIT players sneered "Wimp!" onto the field.

"If Prather were coming at me, so would I," mumbled a fan, perhaps more realistically.

Prather did not see much action in the second half, his team having established its dominance in the game. But he was in long enough to wrap up one Siena receiver a split-second after he made a reception. Wrap him up, slam him into the soggy turf. And send him home.

The receiver gained a few yards, but he paid the price.

It was an insult, you know, to the hitman.