Archive For The “2013” Category
When the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks released their very first positional two deep back in September, it had five freshmen and nine sophomores listed.
That’s a fairly normal type of depth chart for a largely veteran team that was ranked in the FCS Top 25.
Only two freshmen, OG Jackson Evans and LS Jack Dean, were expected to contribute right away, while sophomore FS Riley O’Neil had already started nearly every single game he’d played since his freshman season – already a veteran.
Entering the ninth game of the season, the depth chart that head coach Andy Coen will present to the officials on Saturday will look very different.
The two defensive captains on opening day, senior DT Jim Mitchell and junior SS Sam McCloskey, won’t be anywhere to be found – both injured, out for the year. Junior CB Donavon Harris – still out with a head injury. Junior LB Mark Walker – out. Junior ROV Nick Thevaganayam – out. Senior TE Drew Paulsen – out. Senior WR Gatlin Casey – most likely out.
In fact, Lehigh’s depth chart will have on it eight freshmen, including four (WR Jorge Portorreal, OL Jackson Evans, C Chris Fournier, and ROV Divine Buckrham) who are starting. Additionally, five sophomores will be starting, including one, sophomore CB Marquis Wilson, who has only started one other football game.
The 2017 season will be remembered not-so-fondly for the number of terrible, season-ending injuries that have freakishly occurred. And to close out the regular season, it is the next men up, a huge number of them underclassmen, that will determine the ultimate fate of this football team.
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The first time I asked a question of Lafayette head football coach Frank Tavani was in 2004.
It was at Fisher Field, and I had just spent my first game ever in the press box.
I had gone into that press box hoping to cover an expected Lehigh victory over Lafayette, the final crowning glory to yet another Lehigh football season.
I barely knew what I was doing, how I should act, or how to set up a computer in the press box. But there I was, taking notes for a “game diary” for a national website called I-AA.org.
I had proven my bona fides for writing by penning a very long, very detailed summary of the Lehigh/Colgate game a few weeks prior. That game, a Lehigh victory that went down to the wire, was sort-of a precursor to the type of coverage I do now during Lehigh games in terms of tweeting, except rather than tweet it out instantly to followers, I would write all the observations down, shuffle them up, edit them, and put them in a thousand-word article. (Trust me when I say it made sense at the time.)
But Lehigh did not beat Lafayette in 2004.
Instead, fourth year head coach Frank Tavani’s team would dominate the Mountain Hawks on both lines of scrimmage to secure a well-deserved 24-10 victory, and in so doing punched their first-ever ticket to the I-AA Playoffs.
It was in this environment where I would first ask a question of Frank Tavani, that year a finalist for the Eddie Robinson award for the best head coach in I-AA football.
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Perhaps you’ve heard that the Cubs, managed by a Lafayette grad called Joe Maddon, broke their more than century old championship drought vs. the Cleveland Indians last night.
The Lehigh Mountain Hawks’ championship drought isn’t quite as long as that.
But if the Brown and White hope to raise the trophy at Murray Goodman Stadium this weekend, they’ll need to break a mini-curse of their own.
It refers to the Mountain Hawks’ inability over the last four years to win both Game 10 and Game 11 on the schedule, specifically during the last four years.
There have been years that Lehigh has needed Game 10 to have a chance to win the Patriot League, but haven’t been able to get it done. There have been other years where they’ve needed Game 11 to do so, and missed.
When Games 10 and 11 have title implications, and when Lehigh wins those games, they tend to be Patriot League champs. When they lose one or the other, there tends to be the type of hurt that the Indians got to experience firsthand last night.
The Lehigh seniors almost certainly remember how that feels, on the potential last day of their playing careers at Murray Goodman Stadium.
(Photo Credit: Justin Lafleur/Lehigh Athletics)
“I’d never seen it,” head coach Andy Coen said, adding a “whew” for good measure.
He was referring to a very strange play this Saturday, a play that happened in Lehigh’s favor that felt like the decisive play of the game.
Down 25-21, and senior P Tim Divers readying to punt, speedy Monmouth CB Tevrin Brandon blocked his punt – the ball deflecting almost straight up, then falling back down to earth behind the line of scrimmage, where alert senior FB Zach Hayden kept calm, grabbed the ball out of the air, and started to go for the first down marker.
He did more than get enough yards for the first down. He rumbled 37 yards, thus turning the momentum of the game completely on its head.
Two plays later, senior QB Brandon Bialkowski hit senior WR Lee Kurfis with a 40 yard dagger to make the score 28-25.
It would be a death blow from which Monmouth wouldn’t recover.
“I’ve been coaching and playing a long time,” Coen said, “and I’ve never seen a blocked punt picked up by one of our own guys and run for a first down, which ends up being the biggest play of the game.”
It looked pretty grim – so grim, in fact, that many of the announced attendance of 6,386 had already left the stadium by th beginning of the 4th quarter.
Central Connecticut State, behind a monster offensive performance by RB Rob Holloman, was methodically beating up the Lehigh defense.
There the Blue Devils were, driving to start the 4th quarter, a Lehigh facemask penalty keeping their drive alive, and finally reaching 1st and goal at the Lehigh 9.
It was the end of that drive, unbeknownst to all, that would be the difference between winning and losing their home opener.
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Last season, Lehigh’s defense was expected to help carry an offense a little as a new offense learns the ropes.
This time around, though, it’s a completely different situation.
Eight starters depart last year’s starting squad, including key members of both the defensive line and defensive backfield rotation. Oh yeah, and LB Billy Boyko, an undrafted free agent signee by the Raiders in the offseason, graduates as well.
It’s not like the cupboard is bare by any means. But, man, eight starters?
While the expectation is that Lehigh’s offense will proceed just fine, the defense just has so many departing seniors that it’s worth asking the question: what’s the expectation for 2013?
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