Category Archives: Sunday Word

The Time Is Now: Lehigh Needs to Win A Football Game, Now

You could say that following Lehigh football through the first five weeks has been an exercise in frustration.

That's probably understating things quite a bit.

The season was not supposed to unfurl itself in this way.

The Mountain Hawks, rated in the Top 25 to start the season, remained that way after losing a tough game against Villanova, but then fell out of the national rankings when they followed that up with a loss to Monmouth.

And since, the team has just kept losing, each week more excruciating than the last.

Some Lehigh fans appear to think that the Mountain Hawks could turn things around and make a run at the Patriot League Championship in a world where the Patriot League is a combined 9-20 against out-of-conference foes.

I suppose it is still possible.

But to this fan, this goal can't be the focus of the coming week.

Speaking as a fan, I feel the focus of all the players and coaches needs to be on one singular goal: how to win one, singular, football game.

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The Opportunity To Heal Without Permanent Scars

A lot of football teams in the middle of a football season have what is called a 24 hour rule in regards to the outcome of their games.  The rule is the win, or loss is to be celebrated/agonized over for 24 hours, and then it's back to work.

Like the No Cheering in the Press Box rule in the past, I violated that one this weekend.

After the Penn loss, I was mad in a way I hadn't been mad before.  Irrationally mad.  Talking back at the dog mad.  Losses affect me, some more than others.  And this one, for some reason, really hit me hard.

It was 5:00 PM on Sunday, the Eagles had just won on a 61 yard miracle field goal, and the Saints had just humiliated the Panthers on the road for their first victory of the season.  A Saints victory on the road, against a conference rival, something that, as a Saints fan, happens at about the same frequency as Super Bowl visits - and I was still mad about the game yesterday.

That was the point when I realized something was wrong.

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Weeding Helps Me Vent My Frustrations After 0-3 Start To Season

I know it's not the most mature of responses, but I weeded yesterday.

Our garden, so clean and so perfect back in May, was in mid-September form when I went out there Sunday after Lehigh's loss to Yale.  In this case, mid-September form means the grass and weeds were as high as my thighs, and it was time for me to rip them out.

I'm well aware that I love Lehigh football too much; that it overly affects my mood, sometimes lingering for days or even weeks after particularly bad losses.  That love allows me to summon a passion for the game that sets me apart from others, I think, but the flipside of that love is a frustration that can sometimes only be vented by pulling up grasses and wild growth from a garden that has been growing there unchecked for months.

Yeah; I was frustrated with the loss.  But in the garden, I don't sit there and assign blame to anybody.  I don't grumble about kids, players, attendance numbers, coaches, the weather, the athletic department, or the scoreboard.  I just weed, clearing out the junk in the garden that prevents the last plants to generate tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens and everything else I ask it to provide me and my family.  And overall, I think it helps.
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Rebuilding the Swagger Won’t Be Easy, But It’s Been Done Before

I've been around Lehigh football a long time and I have seen a lot of different Lehigh football seasons.

For some Lehigh football teams, things seem to come easy.  Some teams would come into Murray Goodman Stadium, and the Mountain Hawks would seemingly win before the coin toss.  The opponent already had beaten themselves, intimidated - and all Lehigh would have to do is not do anything ridiculous, and all the home fans would go home happy.

Those types of games reminded me this weekend of the swagger someone like CB Deion Sanders had as a player.  How many NFL receivers beat themselves fifteen minutes before going onto the field because they knew Neon Deion would be on them?

It looks like the for the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, this will not be the case.  It was a season that started out like it would be one where things came easy, but that didn't happen.

For whatever reason, this team will have to earn it the hard way, and in so doing, have an opportunity in front of them.  For inspiration, we don't need to go with Neon Deion.  Instead, we can go with a different choice.
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Rebuilding the Swagger Won’t Be Easy, But It’s Been Done Before

I've been around Lehigh football a long time and I have seen a lot of different Lehigh football seasons.

For some Lehigh football teams, things seem to come easy.  Some teams would come into Murray Goodman Stadium, and the Mountain Hawks would seemingly win before the coin toss.  The opponent already had beaten themselves, intimidated - and all Lehigh would have to do is not do anything ridiculous, and all the home fans would go home happy.

Those types of games reminded me this weekend of the swagger someone like CB Deion Sanders had as a player.  How many NFL receivers beat themselves fifteen minutes before going onto the field because they knew Neon Deion would be on them?

It looks like the for the 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, this will not be the case.  It was a season that started out like it would be one where things came easy, but that didn't happen.

For whatever reason, this team will have to earn it the hard way, and in so doing, have an opportunity in front of them.  For inspiration, we don't need to go with Neon Deion.  Instead, we can go with a different choice.
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Lehigh Will Need A Bad Memory, And A Great Memory, As They Head to Monmouth Next Weekend

(Photo Credit: Chris Shipley/The Morning Call)

In the post game press conference, junior QB Brad Mayes was asked about how he felt about his performance in the 38-35 loss - a game where he had a stellar statistical game, with over 400 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, but the Mountain Hawks as a team came up short.

The Tampa, Florida native definitely had a fresher memory of what he considered mistakes.

"There were some throws out there that I wish I had back," he said.  "I should have thrown for more than whatever I threw.  Whether it's putting the ball on the outside shoulder, not throwing it low, or whatever - there were some throws I left out there today.  I'm going to have to sleep on it, come back next week, and try to make those throws."

Season openers like this, where your team loses, are rarely deal-breakers when it comes to a football season.  Assuming Villanova continues to surge forward and have a good year, it's likely that Mountain Hawks fans will look back at this game as a close, hard-fought loss against a tremendous team.

But critical in that assumption is how the team reacts after a loss like this - how a team rebounds the following week, and how they work.  In that sense, it should be an interesting week in the run-up to the road game at Monmouth next weekend.
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What It’s Like To Be Disappointed

Being a college football fan sometimes means being disappointed.  It comes with the territory.

Disappointment comes in many forms.

In the Lehigh football world, there's the type of disappointment when a non-Lafayette game is lost, like when, say, the Mountain Hawks underperform in a loss to Yale.  While you can be upset that the Bulldogs push you around in your own house, the disappointment abates, eventually.  You get a bunch of really good wins, win the most important game on your schedule, and the disappointment fades away.  You move on, the Yale game an aberration in a mostly terrific year.

But recently, a bunch of Lehigh football players disappointed for a different reason.

What they did isn't exactly a secret, but I thought it worthwhile to say exactly what such news does to huge fans of the Lehigh football program, like myself, and how it affects many of the other passionate Lehigh fans that are a part of the great Lehigh football community.  It's not pleasant, but it is real.
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Horror, Sadness, Frustration, And Redemption

The morning of Friday the 13th, I was thinking about Lehigh going up to Hamilton and playing Colgate.  I was working on my game breakdown, trying to figure out if junior QB Nick Shafnisky would be able to be effective against the Raiders' run defense.

By the evening, I was tearfully trying to call my parents, with a profound sick feeling in my stomach, wondering if any of the many friends they have over in Paris were OK and out of harms way.

I don't know if these thoughts about Paris, this Saturday's game and The Rivalry will make much sense together.  But I will try.

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Big Part Of Lehigh Title Run Is Offensive Line Resurgence

Going into last weekend, most people thought that Holy Cross might pose a problem for the Mountain Hawks defensively.

The Crusader defense had shut out two opponents, contributing to wins over Lafayette two weeks ago, 42-0, and a CAA team, Albany, 37-0.

How would Lehigh's offensive line do against Holy Cross' defensive front?

Once the dust had settled on Saturday, the answer was: "just fine, thanks for asking."

The Mountain Hawks did an awful lot of things right on offense last week, jumping out to a 41-10 halftime lead, carving out 543 offensive yards and executing 83 offensive plays.  But the foundation for that offensive explosion came from a vastly improved performance on the offensive line.

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A Door Opens To A Possible Championship For Lehigh Football

One thing was known going into the game this weekend: Lehigh's chances at playing for a share of the Patriot League championship were in the hands of others.

Fordham, the undefeated leaders of the Patriot League, were in control of their own destiny.  If they won their last three games, they would win the Patriot League, and there was nothing that this young Mountain Hawk team could do about it.  At best, they would be second place.

This weekend, Colgate upset the Rams 31-29 in Hamilton, and thus opened the door for a co-championship.

If Lehigh beats Holy Cross this upcoming weekend, travels to Hamilton and beats Colgate, and returns home and beats Lafayette in the 151st meeting of The Rivalry, Lehigh will at least win a share of the Patriot League championship.

That's something to celebrate.
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