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Spring Practice Opens; Bergen Shines

It's been a week, and there is absolutely no excuse for my not posting in this space. Yes, I have been busy with my Top 20 countdown of I-AA fans, but that's no excuse for not feeding your hunger for Lehigh football.

Can you believe that Lehigh's opening day vs. Monmouth is only 16 short days away? And just across the way from the media circus that is Eagles training camp, Lehigh is conducting its one-a-day and two-a-day practices. Lehigh has been practicing for more than a week now - they opened camp last Wednesday. If you want to pop your head into practice (they are free and open to the public), you can click on this link to find out the schedule. This coming Satuday at 1:45 will see Lehigh practicing in Murray Goodman - if the weather holds up, that should be a great day to attend practice. (If I wasn't going to be out of town this weekend, I would seriously consider going.)

Soon I will have a listing of what questions need answering in this training camp. Maybe tomorrow, but probably not - next week more likely.

In the Cardinals' first preseason game, Adam Bergen caught a pass over the middle for 18 yards from starting QB Kurt Warner. A. B. in the early going is looking like me may just stick with Arizona. It's definitely something to keep an eye on this month as the NFL preseason rolls along.

Finally, here's some press from the Morning Call and the Express-Times concerning practice. Here's the interesting news from these two articles:

[B]eing in the background didn't bother coach Pete Lembo, who begins his fifth season with a team that is loaded with expectations and question marks.

''There is no place I'd rather be than right here on this field with our players and our coaching staff,'' Lembo said. ''We have a very enthusiastic group excited to be part of the Lehigh football family.''

...

Questions exist on the offensive line where All-American tight end Adam Bergen graduated and several other positions are up for grabs.... On the defensive front, even more questions exist, especially at defensive end where two all-league players have graduated.

..

Senior free safety Kaloma Cardwell said most of the team has spent the summer working out on campus.

''We usually have a good number of guys who hang around, but this year was the best percentage since I've been here,'' Cardwell said. ''Considering it's not mandatory, that's a big plus. With our schedule, we know we're going to wake up every Saturday morning this season looking at being in a dogfight. We have to be ready for the challenge.''

Lembo and Cardwell downplayed the impact of the restructuring of the defensive coaching staff.

When Shannon Morrison left for Marshall, his alma mater, in the spring, Gerard Wilcher was promoted to defensive coordinator and will be the team's third defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Tony Trisciani, who coached the last 41/2 seasons at New Hampshire, is the new linebackers coach, and Jay Bateman, who coached at Richmond, is the new run defense coordinator.

''Fortunately, Coach Wilcher was on the staff last year, so there really hasn't been that much of an adjustment,'' Cardwell said. ''We have an idea of his personality and what he wants to do. I'm sure we'll add a few different things, but the basic philosophy stays the same and he'll want us to get after the opposing offenses.''

Lembo said the players will adjust to the changes.

''I wouldn't say it has caused an upheaval because change is something that is part of our culture,'' he said. ''Our players understand that if we continue to be successful, younger coaches are going to get the chance to move on to bigger and better things. It actually reflects positively on the program.

''Change does make my job tougher and creates a busier summer for me to get everybody on the same page.''

...

"I'm just happy as heck to be here now," said [Rob] Melosky, who was hired as a part-time assistant linebackers coach at Lehigh when Tom McGeoy returned home to Pottsville and took a high school job earlier this year. "It's been a treat so far."

Even for the players who have to endure Melosky's non-stop prodding.

"He's a vocal coach. That's good," said Mountain Hawks fifth-year senior linebacker Anthony Graziani, a former Pen Argyl star and team captain who piled up 111 tackles in an All-Patriot League season in 2004. "You always need coaches like that to keep everybody up. It's helpful in keeping everybody motivated."

"His intensity's super," senior linebacker Matt Purdy said of Melosky. "We love to have him."

...

That Melosky -- just three seasons removed from coaching Parkland to a PIAA Class AAAA championship -- wound up on the practice fields of Lehigh instead of Orefield this summer was triggered by one surprise after another.

Following last season's 3-7 finish, Parkland's administration decided not to rehire Melosky, did it in a press release while refusing further comment, and never gave him an explanation. This came despite Melosky's superb 33-15 overall record during four seasons of coaching the Trojans, who beat Woodland Hills for the 2002 state title. The following season Parkland went 9-3 and reached the District 11 championship game, losing to Easton.

"I've moved on," said Melosky, who still teaches health and physical education at Parkland.

...

Lehigh coach Pete Lembo asked Melosky to fill McGeoy's spot during the annual District 11 high school scholar-athlete banquet in April.

"It's been a great fit," said Lembo, who was the guest speaker at that banquet. "He (Melosky) is very similar, age-wise, to most of the guys on our staff. I think he just really needed a change. It's great for me, because obviously, he's been a head high school coach for a long time. He's not afraid to articulate himself on the field. We're fortunate to have him on board."

The fortune runs both ways.

"After being a high school coach for five years, it's like a breath of fresh air to not have the outside distractions that come about with being a head coach," said Melosky, who began his head coaching career at Freedom in 2000 and lives in Northampton with his wife Kathleen and their children Chelsea (8) and Jonathan (6). "I don't miss the phone calls from booster clubs and doing the budget. I know I have a role here to play that, maybe down the road, can lead to something else.

"I'm just happy being out on the field."


My takeaway from this is: How is Lehigh reacting to the change on the coaching staff? By all appearances it's been going well. It's great that a really experienced high school head coach basically fell into our laps as "General" Tom McGeoy took a high school coaching job.

Also what is very encouraging is that more players have stayed on campus over the summer and reported to camp in top shape, and with no major injuries to report. That's great news, especially when you hear that teams like Delaware has already lost their #1 and #2 receivers for the year in preseason injuries. Let's hope we have some good weeks of practice ahead.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Go here for some Photos of practice: www.specialtyphoto.net -Go to events from the last 30 days on the right hand side of the page and then go to Lehigh University Summer Practice. There about 300 photos.
Anonymous said…
Until I read this I was a tad worried about the D this year. Losing Morrison so late scared me, but Melosky sounds like a gem. Parkland ran a pretty nice program while he was there. If he's not hired away next year (which seems to be the trend) I can see him moving into a full-time position.

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