Skip to main content

2008 Hawks of the Year Award

This weekend, Lehigh will be holding its football awards banquet to honor the 2008 team that had a hard-fought rollercoaster year - but with a season-ending streak of winning three of four games - including the win over "that school in Easton" that you can buy directly from - it will be a much more upbeat ceremony, no doubt, than it has in years past.

To celebrate the 2008 season, I'm releasing the "Hawks of the Year" awards that I've been doing since 2003. Based on the weekly polls during the season and my nominations for "Players of the Week", it's my own yearly tradition to celebrate the achievements of this year's Mountain Hawks.

Without any further ado, let's get right to the nominations.

Offensive Hawks of the Year
With the resurgence of the Lehigh offense, it wasn't easy to figure out who the winners would be; and as it turned out, for the second straight year it was a tie between senior RB Matt McGowan and senior WR Sekou "Stuntman" Yansane.

McGowan rushed 175 times for 805 yards, caught 26 balls for 291 yards - and for good measure, threw a key 34 yard pass on fourth down in the win against Fordham - taking every fan in the stadium by surprise. The Hazelton Area alumnus got 5 touchdowns on the year - with two memorable ones against Holy Cross, one on a 66 yard screen pass and a 46 yard touchdown run. McGowan also ended the year on the Patriot League Academic honor roll.

The "Stunt Man" caught 48 passes for 724 yards to lead the Mountain Hawks, as well as scoring 4 touchdowns. Called "Stunt Man" for his acrobatic catches falling out-of-bounds, he'll be best remembered for making ESPN's "Play of the Day" for (what else?) an acrobatic catch to set up a Lehigh touchdown in the 144th meeting of "The Rivalry". Yansane also ended the year on the Patriot League Academic honor roll as well.

Defensive Hawk of the Year
Once again, it's a tie between two Mountain Hawk linebackers: senior LB Tim Diamond and junior LB Matt Cohen. Diamond was always around the ball, racking up 104 tackles on the year (including 6 1/2 for loss) and becoming the first Mountain Hawk to register 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons since Ian Eason ('98) pulled that trick in 1996 and 1997. Cohen at times kept a low profile in Lehigh's defense, but it seemed like whenever Lehigh needed a big tackle for loss Cohen was there to make the play he ended the year with 53 tackles and an amazing 17 tackles for loss on the year.

Both Diamond and Cohen were on the first team all-Patriot League team as well.

Special Teams Hawk of the Year
He did a lot more than just return the final interception to put the icing in the win in the 144th meeting of "The Rivalry", but sophomore DB John Kennedy didn't just do that. He also racked up 666 yards in kickoff returns and countless times put the Lehigh offense in good field position. On defense, he notched 65 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 3 pass break-ups to earn him the nod at special teams.

Hawk Of The Year
This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise: the 2008 Hawk of the year is sophomore QB J.B. Clark. Going into 2008, the biggest question was who would win the QB battle, and would the winner be up to the job as a Division I quarterback. After a tough start against eventual FCS playoff participant Villanova, Clark found his shoes against Fordham and continued to get better and better week after week - ending with his finest performance of the year against "that school in Easton".

The numbers say a lot. A 132.93 passer rating. 2,350 yards passing. 23 touchdowns passing and 3 touchdowns rushing. But it's really about how he led this offense from being a huge question mark to a force to be reckoned with - and which culumulated with his clutching of the Lehigh/Lafayette MVP trophy.

Add another honor to your trophy case, J.B. Congratulations on becoming the 2008 Hawk of the Year.

Summary of other Lehigh 2008 postseason honors:

Senior DB Brendan VanAckeren, FCSADA Academic All-American Team, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Sophomore OL William Rackley,
first team all-Patriot League

Junior DL B. J. Benning, first team all-Patriot League

Senior DL Brian Jackson, first team all-Patriot League, The Sports Network All-American team honorable mention

Senior DB Quadir Carter, first team all-Patriot League, College Sporting News "Fabulous Fifty" team honorable mention, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Senior P/K Jason Leo, first team all-Patriot League, The Sports Network All-American team honorable mention

Senior OL Kevin Bayani, second team all-Patriot League

Sophomore DB Jarard Cribbs, second team all-Patriot League

Senior DL Paul Bode
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Senior WR Jason Figura
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Junior OL Frank Giacalone
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Junior WR Brien Ruyak
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Senior DB Steve Santora, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Senior OL Chris Tiefenthal
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Senior DL Jon Warren
, Patriot League Academic Honor Roll

Congratulations to everyone! And enjoy the awards tomorrow.


Anonymous said…
Brien Ruyak is a junior and a wide receiver..

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…