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Royce Morgan out for year; PBS Special

Royce Morgan out for Year
It's official - the local press has declared that junior DT Royce Morgan is out for the year:

Morgan loss tests Lehigh
Morning Call:
Putting Villanova Behind it

"All-Patriot League defensive tackle Royce Morgan suffered a season-ending compound fracture of his right leg along with torn tendons while trying to defend a lateral late in Saturday's third quarter -- leaving the Mountain Hawks scrambling to replace him. "

[I think the characterization of Lehigh "scrambling" to replace him in inaccurate. Junior Josh Cooney actually started for Morgan against Stony Brook, and it was clear he was going to step in following his departure.]

"Despite some key injuries, most notably a season-ending broken leg sustained by defensive tackle Royce Morgan in the second half Saturday, the mood is decidedly upbeat around South Mountain."

"He was a big part of the defensive line," said Josh Cooney, a former Allentown Central Catholic player who will step into Morgan's spot in the starting lineup. "The whole defensive line's going to have to step their game up."

''Royce was a great player and I'm going to have to go in there and step my game up as much as I can,'' Cooney said. ''I've played mostly as a backup as a freshman and sophomore and started last week at nose guard, so now I'm going back to tackle. We can definitely pull together. It's not like one person goes out and we're going to crumble. We'll be fine. This week will be a test for us, because Liberty can run the ball.''

"We're not going to cradle up and die here," said Cooney, who stands in at 6-1, 255 pounds. "It's not going to be like a catastrophe. I've started at tackle before, played a lot of nose guard."

''Josh has been in the fire before and we're confident he can get the job done,'' Lembo said.

The View from the Nest
Losing Morgan for the year hurts, no matter how you say it. Last year's sack leader, he was a force inside against both the run and pass, and he will be missed. You don't just lose an all-Patriot League teamer and not feel an impact.

Junior Josh Cooney needs to step up and show he can play at nose guard, sure. He's not as big as Morgan, and he does have big shoes to fill in all aspects of defensive line play. But it's all the members of the front seven, especially ILB Owen Breninger and DT Tristan Lawrence, that as a team will have to fill Morgan's shoes.

Having said that I'm fairly confident that the starting front seven will be OK. Cooney is a fine player and I am confident he will get the job done at NG. It's the sophomore backups on the line - Matt Mohler, Tyrell Jenkins, and Paul Fabre - that will be interesting to see what they can bring to the table. With Liberty's punishing running game, we may see any one of these three sophomores (as well as backup NG, senior Jim Norris) in the game on Saturday.

I'll be looking closely as to how the front seven performs against Liberty's big offensive line.

PBS Special: the Lehigh/Lafayette Legacy
My wife always surprises me. Kim never was a big football fan when she met me at a Lehigh/Princeton game in 1999, but slowly but surely, after I've dragged her to innumerable Lehigh games over the years, she's really becoming quite the fan. When I mentioned the PBS documentary airing on WLVT PBS in the Lehigh Valley, she was actually eager to see the documentary on the Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry. (Obviously I've married extremely well.)

We enjoyed the 1-hour program a lot (despite the curious oversight of not mentioning my Lehigh Football Nation blog anywhere on their program, nor during the pledge breaks). Narrated by the "voice of the Phillies" Harry Kalas, the program documents the 2003 Lehigh/Lafayette game, and in the process goes over the history of the rivalry, talking to living members of Lafayette and Lehigh squads from the 40s to today. The early rivalry is also covered by Todd Davidson, one of the the authors who penned the authoritative resource on the rivalry, Legends of Lehigh/Lafayette.

I enjoyed it so much that I contacted WLVT and CSTV by email in an effort to see if CSTV might want to broadcast the documentary on the lead-up to Lehigh/Lafayette on their station.

It's funny, as many stories came out of the documentary, it seems like there are so many more than can be contained in the special. I was happy to learn of many of the stories from living alumni from the '40s and '50s, but I was a little disappointed that I didn't see any Lehigh football alums from my years at Lehigh (1988-1992). I wanted Erik Bird's story in '91 to be told - how Bird, our kicker at the time, had an injury to his right foot. But he wanted to play in Lehigh/Lafayette that year so bad, he kicked the entire game left-footed. (Tragically, he died only a month after he played in the game.)

Another thing I would have liked to have seen is a contrast between the history of the cities of Bethlehem and Easton, and how the identity of the cities are wrapped up in the teams. In the documentary, during the early rivalry, an attempt was made to put the rivalry in historical perspective regarding the big historical happenings of the day (the Great Depression, WWII, the Vietnam War, etc.) I think it might have been nice to get more local, covering more of the happenings of Bethlehem Steel over that time (though they did mention Bethlehem Steel's drawdown of operations in the '80s) and other local happenings.

After we finished watching the show, what do you think struck my my wife the most? Not the compilation of all the history and the interviews with Lehigh and Lafayette legends. No, it was the fact that Lafayette is winning the all-time rivalry, 82-72-5. "I thought Lehigh was good," she said. "You told me all these years that Lehigh is good, and now I find out that Lafayette is leading the all-time series!"

I was speechless.

Not sure if I'll be blogging tomorrow, maybe only Saturday. Go Mountain Hawks, go down to Lynchburg and grab us a "W"!


Anonymous said…
What I found "most amazing" was that the lady that emcees "Scholastic Scrimmage" on WLVT Channel 39 was not only a Lehigh fan and a Vassar grad, but an absolute babe as a coed. She looked like Lee Remick in her prime.

I was also surprised to learn that Mike Gregorek was the son of one of my junior high football coaches at Northeast in Bethlehem.

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