Category Archives: Sunday Word

It All Will Come Down To 14 Days Of Being Locked In

After the Bucknell victory, senior OL Zach Duffy said something that cut through the entire 2017 Lehigh football season.

"We have 14 days to stay locked in and do whatever it takes to win another championship," he said to the team.

And it's true. 

It really doesn't matter what happened Week One, Week Five, or even last week.  When this Mountain Hawk team goes to bed, and wakes up again during the next six days, they are in the Patriot League Championship race.  If they win, and stay locked in for the next fourteen days and win two football games, they will win the Patriot League.

It will require being locked in for fourteen days.
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Fordham Shows Lehigh How To Win Football Games By Acting Like A Team

I got to Jack Coffey Field late.

I knew it was going to be close, getting to the Bronx for the 1:00 PM start.  My son was marching in the band for the parade that morning, and nothing was going to keep me from going to that event, completed under a perfect sky and perfect weather shining upon Main Street. 

Earlier in the week I made a calculation on whether I could make it to kickoff by leaving as soon as his marching gig was complete. If I left, right as it ended, and didn't make any stops, and the traffic was just right, it was doable.

So I decided it was a go.  I'd be headed to the Bronx on a gorgeous Saturday that felt a lot more like September than November.
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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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