Skip to main content

Lehigh Prepares for Towson

(Photo Credit: Stephen Flood/The Express-Times)

Lehigh's success in the Patriot League has been well documented, as this year is the tenth league championship the Mountain Hawks have achieved.

When it comes to success against the champions of the most dominant FCS football in the East, however, Lehigh has enjoyed a few good battles - but have almost always lost.

Lehigh has gone on the road and beaten the champion of that conference only once, the famous 24-23 win in 1998 over Richmond.  (They then lost a heartbreaker at another opponent from that same conference the following weekend, 26-20 to the eventual FCS National Champion UMass Minutemen.)

If you think the scope of the task of going on the road and defeating the CAA champion is going to intimidate this group of Mountain Hawks, though, think again.

"People look at us as a non-scholarship program and maybe think we're a fluke; but we're looking forward to proving people wrong," junior WR Ryan Spadola told Keith Groller of the Morning Call. "People don't think we can compete with the CAA, but now we have a match with the CAA champ. It's a chance for us to show what we're all about."

While Towson has been busy with the Commander in Chief this past weekend, Lehigh has been very busy themselves preparing for the challenge this week.

It all started last week, though, with the Mountain Hawks getting a few days off to spend time on Thanksgiving with family and friends.

"We practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and gave the kids off [for Thanksgiving]", head coach Andy Coen told me.  "Then practice Saturday, and then got back into our normal game week routine."

"Some of the guys that live farther away, went to either some teammates homes or to some of the coaches homes for dinner," junior NG Sajjad Chagani shared with me.  "Personally, I spent the day with my dad."

One of those players who traveled during the holiday was senior WR Jake Drwal, who took a trip to Massachusetts to spend Thanksgiving with teammate senior OL Vinny Pelligrini.

Another was senior LB Colin Newton, who told me he drove with his brother, freshman DL Tim Newton, to Virginia to spend the holiday with some relatives.

"My parents drove down there after the Lehigh/Lafayette game on Saturday, so it was nice to be able to actually be with my family over the holiday," he said.

"The one word I would use to describe it is peaceful, no stress, no pressure, nothing on the schedule and beautiful country side. So it was nice to get away and just truly relax for two days...but then I started missing football."

After the two day break, it was back to game film and preparation for Towson - much different than the preparation for Northern Iowa last year, when Lehigh had to practice on Thanksgiving morning.

"The bye was good extra time to go thru a ton of film," Coen told me, while also mentioning that he also used some time to get started on recruiting as well.

"Our schedule has been pretty similar to a normal season game: breaking down film, a pretty regular practice schedule and of course lots of time in the weight room," Chagani told me.  "However, their is a lot more energy with everything we do; you can tell that everyone is really excited to be here and will do everything to keep going."

"We have been watching a lot of film and getting some extra weight room sessions in," Drwal added.  "We were able to practice almost every day."

Despite all the hard work the Mountain Hawks players and coaches are putting in, one doesn't get the impression that the players are intimidated by the challenge of playing the CAA champions.

"We all have a drive to win," Spadola said in the Morning Call article. "We all have the same goals in mind. We just have to go out and play like we can and we should do well."

"They are a fast athletic team who is opportunistic and likes to run the ball at you," Drwal said. "They are a confident group and it will be a challenge."

"Personally, I really do not get into the other team that much," a confident Colin Newton shared with me.  "I know my key reads and the other teams tendencies, but other than that I just go out and play my ball against a faceless opponent."

"They are a hardworking team and they are defiantly going to hit us with everything they have got," Sajjad added.

One thing is for sure: Lehigh is not going to be outworked in this game on Saturday.  That much is very clear.

Comments

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 …

What Are You Doing the Night of Lehigh's 2017 Home Opener?

I have this vision.

It's the weekend of the home opener at Murray Goodman Stadium, Labor Day weekend.  It could be a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.

And it's 6:00 PM.

In 2018, the Lehigh football team will open the season with a big celebration of the football program - at Navy, Lehigh's first game against an FBS team in over a decade.

In 2017, why not, as a one-off opportunity, try to have one Lehigh football game, the home opener, be the first-ever night game at Murray Goodman Stadium?

Will it cost money?  Yes.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.

However, is it doable?  I've got to believe the answer is "yes".


Seven Positive Thoughts About All the Patriot League Recruiting Classes

It's recruiting season.  Every incoming recruit is a Patriot League all-star, everyone is a first team all-American, everyone is undefeated.  It's all good times, a chance for kids to be admitted to some of the best Universities in the world.  In that, it's a win for everyone.

While we wait for each of the remaining recruits to be announced as a part of their recruiting classes, I thought I'd comb through all of the incoming classes of the Patriot League and tell you what sticks out to me.

This summart isn't a ratings-based system, than folks like 247Sports have in terms of measuring the number of "starred recruits" (they list Holy Cross as the "winner"), or even a hybrid-based system, like LFN's yearly Patsy Ratings (last seasons "winner": Lehigh) or HERO Sports' list of the top overall FCS recruits (which lists Lafayette as the "winner").  It's just one guy, looking at the recruit lists, and giving his opinion.