Spring Season: Wideouts and Running Backs

It's hard being an offensive player at Lehigh, thanks to the shoes you have to fill.

This season, though, at wideout and running back, it's even more difficult than usual.

At running back, all the incoming backs need to be able to do is outdo the accomplishments of RB Keith Sherman - who only was Lehigh's first 1,000 yard rusher in the last eleven years, and also nearly carried last year's team on his back to a Patriot League championship.

And then there's wide receiver, where the highest profile offensive players in the last two years, WR Ryan Spadola and WR Lee Kurfis, were back-to-back FCS All-Americans and broke a good portion of Lehigh's receiving records.  Kurfis, too, nearly carried Lehigh on his back to the playoffs last season.  And Ryan is plyin his trade in the NFL, eager to break through onto the Dolphins' roster once again.

All the new group from this spring needs to do is to equal their level of excellence.  Simple, right?
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Posted in Alex Buford, Andy Coen, Brandon Yosha, Derek Gaul, Football, Josh Parris, Lehigh, Rich Sodeke, Running Backs, Spring Football, Wide Receivers | Leave a comment

Spring Season: Offensive Line and Tight Ends

It's not exactly a secret that the foundation of Lehigh's offense in the Andy Coen era is an exceptional pass blocking unit.

With graduates from this unit like OL Keith Schauder, OL A.J. Hood, OL Troy McKenna, C Matt Lippincott and OL Will Rackley, who earns his paycheck on the offensive line of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, it's clear that offensive line is always a priority for Coen and offensive line coach Brett Sawyer.

This year sees Lippincott and Hood graduate, but also sees a lot of excitement with a lot of returning starting talent - including a bookend tackle in senior OL Ned Daryoush.

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Posted in Andy Coen, Brandon Short, Brett Sawyer, Chris Ruhl, Football, Lehigh, Matt Ford, Ned Daryoush, Offensive Line, Shane Rugg, Spring Football, Terez Owens, Tight Ends | Leave a comment

Spring Season: Defensive Line and Linebackers

With the secondary out of the way, it's time to focus on Lehigh's spring roster battles as they relate to the rest of the defense, the linebacking unit and starting defensive line.

On the coaching front, rabid Lehigh football fans will recognize the two position coaches at both linebackers and defensive line.

Both coached alongside of current head coach Andy Coen during two of the Brown and White's best-ever defensive seasons in 1998 and 1999.

Joe Bottiglieri was the defensive coordinator for the legendary 1998 team, which went 11-0 in regular season play and shocked the world by knocking of Atlantic 10 champions Richmond in the first-ever playoff victory for the Mountain Hawks since Lehigh joined the Patriot League.  Along with current defensive line coach Donnie Roberts, Lehigh's defense held the eventual I-AA champions, UMass, to 26 points and putting Lehigh in a position to win with a minute left in the quarterfinals.

This season, Coach Bott and Coach Roberts will try to recreate that same magic with this year's team.
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Posted in Andy Coen, Arturo Gyles, Colton Caslow, Defensive Line, Football, Greg Palma, Isaiah Campbell, Lehigh, Linebackers, Mat Verdon, Noah Robb, Spring Football, Tim Newton | Leave a comment

Past and Present Lehigh Football Players Go Prematurely Bald

You'd think with a headline like "Past and Present Lehigh Football Players Go Prematurely Bald" that the next sentence I'd be writing would be an ad for "Hair Club For Men".

Instead, though, I'm going to be writing about how a bunch of Lehigh football players going prematurely bald is a great, inspirational thing.

This past Sunday, "Team Jack" went to nearby Phillipsburg, New Jersey, to get their heads shaved in solidarity with their favorite teammate and biggest fan, ten year old Jack Knudson, and also raise more than $2,000 for the St. Baldrick's foundation for pediatric cancer research.

(You can still donate to "Team Jack" by clicking on this link and clicking the "Donate" button.)
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Posted in Arturo Gyles, Cody Kondas, Football, Jack Knudson, Josh Parris, Lehigh, Mat Verdon, Matt Laub, Noah Robb, Olivier Rigaud, Ryan James, Sajjad Chagani, St. Baldrick's, Terez Owens, Tim Newton | Leave a comment

Spring Season: The Secondary

In my first edition about Lehigh's spring  football season, I take a look at one of the parts of the team that I'll be watching closely when the Brown vs. White game gets played on April 19th: the secondary.

While one might naturally start one's focus on Lehigh's spring season on the offense, and the reps that rising sophomore QB Nick Shafnisky will be taking, I'd argue that it's equally as important to focus on the battles happening in the Mountain Hawk secondary.

For the first time in a long time, it's not a foregone conclusion as to whom will be starting come September.
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Posted in Andy Coen, Brandon Leaks, Brian Githens, Craig Sutyak, Football, Jamil Robinson, Jason Suggs, Joe Barrett, Laquan Lambert, Lehigh, Olivier Rigaud, Randall Lawson, Secondary, Spring Football, Steven Wilmington | Leave a comment

Spring Season Begins As Lehigh Sees Benefits In Off-Season Weight Training Program

This week, Lehigh's football program officially kicked off their spring season, starting the series of practices that will start the process of bringing this team together for the fall football season.

But that's not to say that the football team has been sitting back and drinking Yuenglings and sitting on the couch since November.

Through Lehigh's strength and conditioning program, run by Ed Ruisz and Eric Marcovsky, Lehigh's football players have been working in the weight room since November in order to get to peak physical condition for the spring - and fall.
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Posted in Andy Coen, Ed Ruisz, Eric Marcovsky, Football, Lehigh, Owen Breininger, Spring Football, Strength and Conditioning | Leave a comment

Patsy Ratings – Lehigh’s Class of 2018

Most Patriot League fan bases would be quite happy if you told them that a two-year won/loss record would be 18-4 with a couple of wins over perennial Top 25 teams, a sweep of Ivy League opponents, and a victory over your biggest rival.

But head coach Andy Coen, despite all the success, has plenty to wonder in regards to what could have been in the last two years.

One half away from a title in 2012.  One touchdown away from a fifth straight win over that school in Easton.  In a couple of seasons of fantastic comebacks and thrilling victories, its the two times where they couldn't execute the comeback that stick out the most.

The offensive talent Lehigh has graduated too during this time - QB Michael Colvin, QB Brandon Bialkowski, WR Ryan Spadola, WR Lee Kurfis, RB Keith Sherman, OL Matt Lippincott, and FB Zach Hayden are but a few of those names - is substantial.  If Lehigh hopes to transform oh-so-close into Patriot League Championships again, they'll need to add new names to this list above.

Did this year's recruiting class come close to doing so, according to the Patsy Rating system?

Let's find out.

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Posted in Class of 2018, Football, Lehigh, Patriot League, Patsy Ratings | Leave a comment

Patsy Ratings – Lafayette’s Class of 2018

Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani holds a fairly odd distinction: in the last four seasons, his Leopards have finished the season with a sub-.500 record, yet the Spotted Ones also have - of all things - a Patriot League championship, and a trip to the FCS Playoffs last season to show for it.

Such is life in the seven-team Patriot League: you can struggle like a Leopard in a freezer in September and October, yet thaw out in time for league play and make a run to win the Championship.

In fact it was one of the players represented in last year's Patsy Ratings, rising sophomore QB Drew Reed, that was a critical piece to their title run.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was a two-star rated player by all the major scouting agencies, and was a huge factor in their Patsy Rating.

This season, will the Leopards have another Reed in their class?  Will they have several?  Will they have more than several?  Will they have enough to have one of the best recruiting classes in the Patsy ratings this season?

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Posted in Class of 2018, Lafayette, Lehigh, Patriot League, Patsy Ratings, Recruiting | Leave a comment

Patsy Ratings – Holy Cross’ Class of 2018

In the last two years, Holy Cross has had a lot more moral victories than actual victories.

There was the last-second-almost-win against Lehigh two years ago, 36-35.  There was the almost-miraculous comeback against Harvard, lost in overtime, 41-35.  There were almost wins against Colgate.  Fordham.   The list goes on and on.

For head coach Tom Gilmore, whose Purple Crusaders went 3-9 (1-4), it must be agonizing to see his teams, so close to turning the corner, to just fall short.

The way to rectify the situation, of course, is recruiting.

This recruiting season, did Holy Cross do enough, according to the Patsy Ratings, to start to develop a squad that will start turning these moral victories into actual victories?

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Posted in Class of 2018, Football, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Patriot League, Patsy Ratings, Recruiting | Leave a comment

Examining A Figure Skating Rivalry: Tonya and Nancy

It must be very hard for a millennial to understand the fuss around the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding figure skating scandal in the run-up to the 1994 Olympics.

If you're of a certain age, though - whether you're a figure skating fan or not, and I am decidedly no fan of figure skating - the Shakespearean story of Harding and Kerrigan still engages, and still grabs peoples' attention, twenty years later.

Why, though?  Why, twenty years later, in a sport I care little, does the story still grab me?  Why did I spend time out of my life watching dueling NBC and ESPN documentaries on the subject, and Google multiple stories about Jeff Gilooly, idiot "bodyguards", and the whole sordid affair?

I think it's because the story, even twenty years later, is like opium.

The addictive story, even now, has everything.  Everything.  The woman that fought for everything, perhaps crossing over to the dark side to get her chance at Olypic Gold, vs. the woman who, despite her pleas to the contrary, had a well-financed team behind her, especially in the run-up to the Olympics.

A mysterious crime that still isn't completely solved.  Idiot criminals.  Shakespearean tragedy.  Icy rivalry. Flawed heroes.  Heroic feats of athleticism.  Recovery from tragedy - and a triumph against all odds.  There's even a twist of an ending to the story, mired in the weird politics of figure skating judges.

The real tragedy, though, is in the two women - still trapped in the narrative, twenty years later, perhaps never to fully emerge from it.
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Posted in 1994, Figure Skating, Lillehammer, Nancy Kerrigan, NBC, Olympics, Tonya Harding, TV | Leave a comment