Skip to main content

Ivy & Patriot Dibs & Dabs; Playoff Predictions, Semifinals

The I-AA postseason rages on, and for Lehigh fans the 2005 season has been over for a couple weeks. Some may sit and think of what could have been (or bash Lafayette), but action around I-AA football doesn't stop after the last game of football has been played.

Around the Patriot League and Ivy League, there has been some interesting goings-on that deserve some special attention.

Ed Foley out in Fordham. Foley resigned as Fordham's head football coach shortly after Fordham lost to limited-scholarship Albany 41-0, capping off a 2-9 season with losses to 2 limited-scholarship schools. Foley managed to get some good talent to Rose Hill, but was unable to translate that talent into winning football games. Replacing him today will be coach Tom Masella from Central Connecticut State. In 2 years, "Buzz" has coached the Devils to back-to-back NEC championships, as well as coaching CCSU to a September upset of I-AA playoff team Colgate.

LFN's take: This looks like a great hire for the Rams. The former Boston University coach, with a nice talented nucleus of players, should turn around the Rams quickly and make 2005 seem like an aberration.

Shoop out in Columbia. After losing to Ivy League champion Brown on the final day of the season, head coach Bob Shoop was "relieved of his coaching duties". After beating Fordham and Duquesne in back-to-back weeks in September, Shoop's Lions proceeded to lose their last 9 games -- of which 6 games were lost by more than 27 points. Looking back, Columbia had an extremely young team and were pretty much expected to be beaten around. Names being bandied about in the Columbia head coaching "sweepstakes" are current Lehigh offensive coordinator Chris Rorke and former Lehigh player and coach Dave Cecchini ('94).

LFN's Take: I don't know if Rorke or Cecchini will go for this vacancy, but coaching the Lions has always been tough. Bringing a winning attitude to a team that hasn't enjoyed a winning season since 1996, and probably has the lowest football budget in the Ivy League, will be a definite challenge. In my opinion, this should go to a coach willing to stay a long time and nurture a winning football tradition at Wien Stadium.

DE Ononibaku playing in all-star games, looking pro? On Nov. 26th, Georgetown senior DE Michael Ononibaku played in the East Coast Bowl, an all-star game featuring Division I-AA, II and III players wishing to showcase their skills in professional football. Ononibaku is hoping to get an invitation to some other all-star games during the holiday season so he can continue to play football professionally.

LFN's take: For me, it's way too early to think of draft boards and pro football, but at our level Ononibaku is the type of player that you had to know where he was on the field at all times. I was also impressed with his professionalism, determination, and leadership. I hope he makes it.

For those of you looking for a wrap-up of the 2005 Lehigh season, I will get to it soon, hopefully before the playoffs are over. In the meantime, the I-AA semifinals are going to be played on Friday night and Saturday afternoon in Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC and Bobcat stadium in San Marcos, TX (both will be televised on ESPN2). Here's my quick take on both games.

Friday: Northern Iowa at Texas St. It's hard to beleive the Panthers on October 22nd were 4-3 after a humiliating 38-3 loss to Illinois St. and looking forward to next year. Instead, the Panthers are cumulating an incredible run where they've gone 6-0, knocking off 5 nationally-ranked opponents -- including #1 New Hampshire on the road. Texas St. has peaked at the right time, coming from behind to throttle Georgia Southern 50-35, while barely holding on to squeeze past Cal Poly 14-7. Something tells me the Panthers' miracle run is going to continue. It will take jumping out to a two-score lead, just like they did against the Wildcats, but I think the Panthers are up to the challenge. UNI 24, Texas St. 10.

Saturday: Furman at Appalachian St. This one should be crazy. The Mountaineers will be looking to avenge an early-season loss to the Paladins, while Furman will be attempting to win in Kidd Brewer stadium for the first time since 1996. Ingle Martin vs. Richie Williams. ESPN will definitely have the "Miracle on the Mountain" queued up in the highlight reel - that's the game where Furman was intercepted on an attempted 2-pt conversion with seconds on the clock, which was returned for 2 Mountaineer points on the way to a 16-15 App St. victory. Must-see TV, but who will win? It will be close, and I think Brewer Stadium retains its magic in another close win. App St. 27, Furman 24.


Anonymous said…


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…