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Lehigh Football Nation Players of the Year

Press Release
On Thursday, December 9th, the fan blog Lehigh Football Nation announced their awards of outstanding achievement to members of the Lehigh Football team. The awards are: Top Offensive Hawk, Top Defensive Hawk, Top Special Teams Hawk, and Player of the Year.

Top Offensive Hawk: The 2004 Top Offensive Hawk award goes to junior QB Mark Borda. In a year where he had to battle for the starting job in August, Mark left little doubt that he was "the man" after accumulating three Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors and eight Lehigh Football Nation game balls, as well as getting on the second team All Patriot League Offense and Sports Network's Walter Payton award "watch list". With 24 TD throws, 1 rushing TD and only 6 interceptions on the year, Mark compiled a 62% completion rate to go with his 150.8 QB rating on the year.

Mark also brought a quiet confidence to the offense this year, epitomized by the come-from-behind performace against Yale. Down at the half 21-10, Mark led the offense in the second half to 20 big points, including a 1 yard QB keeper for a TD that put Lehigh up for good late in the 4th quarter.

Congratulations Mark!

Top Defensive Hawk: The 2004 Top Defensive Hawk award goes to senior OLB Anthony Graziani. Another player who wasn't a lock to make the opening-day roster, "Graz" week after week was the linchpin of the defense and the tackles leader on the year with 111 on the season. In addition, "Graz" got 7 1/2 tackles for loss, 4 1/2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery. For his efforts, he received eight Lehigh Football Nation game balls on the year, one Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honor, and a first-team spot on the All Patriot League defense.

On a defense which was a great, spirited, solid group of 11 players, "Graz" in 2004 really stood out in the biggest games of the year. Against Colgate, he logged 18 tackles and a huge interception. Against Lafayette, he logged 14 tackles. Against James Madison, he logged 10 tackles.

On the field, he is clearly a leader and shows great pursuit from sideline to sideline. We're happy to recognize him as Top Defensive Hawk. Congratulations "Graz"!

Top Special Teams Hawk: The 2004 Special Teams Hawk award goes to senior P Kyle Keating. Some players who lose a QB battle either don't play their best or quit the team over a bruised ego. Not Kyle. He went out there and had a phenomenal year punting the ball, and was an important weapon for Lehigh game in and game out. For his efforts, he gathered five Lehigh Football Nation game balls, and a first-team All Patriot League specialist slot.

Statisitcally, he could have had the best season ever for a Lehigh punter. The fact he averaged 38 yards per punt was only part of his great value to the 2004 Lehigh Mountain Hawks. He only had 2 touchbacks, while 16 of his 53 punts were placed inside the 20.

Emblematic of Kyle's great composure and skill came in the Georgetown game. A high snap sailed over his head, and instead of losing his cool, he tracked down the ball, eluded two defenders, and managed to still loft a punt 7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. I won't speak for Kyle, but it's the best 7 yard punt that I've ever seen.

Congratulations Kyle!

Lehigh Football Nation Player of the Year: The 2004 Player of the Year award goes to sophomore RB Eric Rath. Entering 2004, Lehigh had the shoes of Jermaine Pugh to fill at running back. Eric returned to the team this year after taking the year off, and came back to the Mountain Hawks with a "bang", amassing 1,328 all-purpose yards and 13 TDs. For his efforts, he receved eight Lehigh Football Nation game balls, and a spot on the second team All Patriot League offensive squad.

Rath very very narrowly gets player of the year in 2004 because he has shown guts. It's almost a cliche to say that a player has guts, but it's hard not to invoke it in his case. Every game he has played hurt or banged up. Four or five times this year, during the course of the game, he has had to be helped to the sideline, only to return on the next series. Not only that - he'd find himself playing on special teams, returning kicks in the same game. I keep thinking that if all our linebackers were injured, Eric would be first in line volunteering to play 60 minutes as middle linebacker.

To do that and play every game is remarkable in and of itself. The fact he did that and was still an integral part of the offense by gaining 1,300 all-purpose yards is really remarkable. His intensity was on display in the biggest games of the year, against James Madison (131 all-purpose yards, 1 TD) and Colgate (124 all-purpose yards, 1 TD). For that, his toughness to play to injury all year, and his ability to stand up for the team when he hasn't had the best of days makes him Lehigh Football Nation's Player of the Year.

Congratulations to Eric!


Anonymous said…
Well done Fellas, take a bow! I thank you for one of the most exciting LU football seasons.

Even though LU was robbed the last game of the season,
every LU fan realizes who the real champions are!!

Keep up the great work ethic and win, win, win!!!!!!!

Happy Holidays,

Steven P.

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