Category Archives: Greg Palma

Season In Review: Future Bright for Mountain Hawks, Come Close to Championship

Everything about the 2015 season screamed "rebuilding," even if the Lehigh faithful never really could bring themselves to completely believe it.

Lehigh was coming from a frustrating 2014 where the Mountain Hawks came close to beating James Madison at home, but couldn't finish the game, making Lehigh slide to an uncharacteristic 3-8 record.

There was the departure in the offseason of RB Chris Leigh, the one player that scored a touchdown for the Mountain Hawks in the 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh in Yankee Stadium, and RB Brandon Yosha, the transfer running back that battled injury and chop blocks leading to his retirement from football as well.

With pretty much any other team and any other fan base, expectations for the year would have been low.  But at Lehigh, expectations are sky-high, for better or for worse, all the time.  Perhaps it's the historic success of the program; perhaps it's the fans, who are spoiled by all the Patriot League championships, wins over Lafayette, and FCS playoff wins, but that's what playing at Lehigh is all about.

What the 2015 Mountain Hawks will be best known for is righting the ship from that awful 2014 to return to the winning ways that all Lehigh fans seem to expect.  Going into the 2015 offseason, the Mountain Hawks 6-5 record wasn't good enough to win a Patriot League championship - though they came very, very close - but it definitely shows that the foundation has been rebuilt for future success.
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Game Breakdown: Lehigh at Central Connecticut State, 9/4/2015

We break down the Central Connecticut State game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

Thinking of openers and CCSU this week made me think of Lehigh's 2013 season.

That was an epic overtime game, where Lehigh overcame a 20 point 4th quarter deficit to overcome the Blue Devils in double overtime 51-44.

While most probably remember the record-breaking receiving day from WR Lee Kurfis, I dug deeper.
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LFN’s 2015 Spring Preview – Defensive Line

Lehigh NG Tyler Cavenas
The 2014 numbers don't get any better when you look at them five months later.

Team Sacks: 104th.

Team Tackles for Loss: 118th.

Rushing Defense: 100th.

In order to have any chance of improving those poor numbers from 2014, one of the biggest areas for improvement will have to be in Lehigh's defensive front seven, a fact that head coach Andy Coen is all too aware of.

"When we put pressure on the quarterback it was because we were blitzing," he said in Lehigh's spring preview.  "We need to be able to get a rush to the quarterback and create more of a mechanism to get after that guy. We have to get back to being more aggressive in that respect."

It stands to reason that Lehigh's defensive line will be the start of that aggressive defense.  And fortunately, the Mountain Hawks have some young talent that started to emerge last year that could be poised to firm up this part of the defense in 2015.
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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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