Friday, January 20, 2006

We Have Two Assistant Coaches

The official announcement comes from on coach Coen's first two assistant coaches. One is a name I dropped yesterday from the rumor mill, and the other is from coach Coen's days at Penn. Both have ties to the local area, and are, like coach Coen, being "brought home".

Coach Coen nabbed TE coach Brett Sawyer (pictured here), who comes to the offensive staff from Penn where last year he coached Quaker TE Chris Mizell to become an honorable mention all-Ivy selection. A former offensive lineman at Muhlenberg ('98), Brett has spent the last three years coaching at Princeton and Penn, where he has gotten a reputation of being an excellent recruiter. Interestingly, Brett's recruiting area at Penn includes some areas that haven't been largely represented in years past at Lehigh: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

Another name who is coming "home" is Allentown Central Catholic head coach Donnie Roberts. Donnie was a Lehigh defensive line coach at Lehigh at the same time coach Coen was offensive coordinator under Kevin Higgins - another link to the Higgins era. Roberts coached some really good defensive linemen at Lehigh, including NFL DE Rich Owens. Last year, Roberts coached CCHS to a 9-3 record and an Eastern Conference 3A title.

"We are very excited to have both of these men on our staff," Coen said. They are both quality individuals who view themselves as both teachers and motivators. Having worked with both of them before, I know we share the same values and passion for the game that we need in order to keep this program moving forward."

Anything to read between line lines on the hirings? Just this: Coach Coen is getting back to basics. He knows that the key to winning football games is the offensive and defensive lines. Prepare to see a Lehigh team that wins a lot more trench battles - and maybe even smash some opponents in the mouth. Here's one fan who is excited at the prospect of extra physical play on the lines.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just Reporting the Rumors

All of Lehigh Nation is anxiously awaiting the announcement of coach Coen's staff, and trying to divine the tea leaves from the various announcements, the press conference, and (of course) what Marty overheard Joe tell Frank at the basketball or wrestling games. Everyone wants to know: Who's staying? Who's going? Are there players who have left the program, or maybe staying another year? Is OL coach John Powers (pictured here) staying or going?

It's an odd place for Lehigh Nation to be right now. Normally we're counting the days until spring football or eagerly going to to find out when the Class of 2010 will be announced. Instead, we're trawling every corner of the web trying to figure out who's in and who's out.

After an exhaustive search, I've identified three serious issues that fans are looking at.

1) OL line coach John Powers: staying or going? I've heard reports that he's already been out the door, with coach Coen taking over the OL coaching duties -- a rumor that may have come from the fact that coach Coen was both offensive coordinator and OL coach at Penn. I can't say that this is true or not, but I do know that coach Powers is still on the Lehigh campus, making this statement a RUMOR, most likely.

2) WR Andre Hall and DE Mike Murawnski, gone? On the official Lehigh roster, both Hall and Murawnski's names disappeared from the roster, and folks have been wondering if they have really left, or is it a typo. The answer is that it is FACT that both have left the team. Hall was a big WR who likely saw a huge logjam for playing time on the depth chart this year, but Murawnski to me looked like a promising DE who could have pushed to be a starter in 2006. Having said that, it's not uncommon to see some folks drop off the roster year to year, especially in areas where we've been loaded in 2005 (like DE and WR).

3) Can/Will Eric Rath return in 2006? With senior RB Eric Rath having such a great 2005, fans are wondering if he has a year of eligibility left, and will be play another year for the Mountain Hawks. This comes up since during Eric's sophomore year, he took a year off from football. It is a FACT that he could possibly play in 2006, though it would require a petition of the Patriot League and the NCAA in order to play his final year of eligibility. However, ss much as we'd like to think that everyone's decisions on their education comes solely from a football perspective, the truth is that there are many many more issues to deal with that just football when it comes to spending another year at school. Therefore it is only RUMOR that he is actually coming back - there is no indication one way or another that Eric wants to come back in 2006.

4. Central Catholic's Donnie Roberts' heading back to Lehigh coaching staff. Coach Coen talked highly of coach Roberts who is a good friend of his, in this January 5th article from Keith Groller. It's still a RUMOR at this point of him coming back to the Mountain Hawks, but an intriguing possibility if it's true. You also have to wonder if some of the other local coaches in the article - Quakertown's John Donnelly or Emmaus' Jon Bottiglieri - might also find themselves as possibilities on Coen's new coaching staff.

Keep checking in here for all the latest.
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