Skip to main content

Know Your 2017 Opponents: Wagner

Most of the teams on Lehigh's football schedule have become so familiar that it seems like they are on the Mountain Hawk football schedule every single season.  Ivy League teams, Villanova, Monmouth... to anyone following Lehigh football over the last decade, they are names fans have heard of.

Not so Wagner.

That's nothing against the Seahawks, who have played many Lehigh opponents in the last five years (Lafayette, Central Connecticut State, Monmouth, Georgetown, Holy Cross, and Colgate in the FCS Playoffs in 2012).

But, strangely for a school so close to Bethlehem, Wagner has never played Lehigh in football.  That will change this season, when the Mountain Hawks travel to Staten Island to compete in their only night game of the year.

Wagner College competes in the limited-scholarship conference called the Northeast Conference, or NEC.  The NEC used to be the home of Monmouth before they jumped to the MAAC in all sports but football, and is the current home of Central Connecticut State, whom Lehigh defeated 20-14 in their last meeting in 2015.

The Seahawks' head coach is Jason Houghtailing, in his third year after the only head coach Wagner had ever known, Walt Hameline, stepped down from the head coaching portion of his job, retaining the office of athletic director.  Houghtailing has a 7-15 lifetime head coaching record, but most of those losses game in 2015 - last season they went a respectable 6-5 and defeated the NEC champs, St. Francis (PA), on the final weekend of the season.

Seahawk, or Packer?
The Wagner media guide says the Seahawks return 8 starters on offense and 8 starters on defense,  none more important than Wagner's Aaron Rodgers-lookalike QB Alex Thomson.  The 6’5, 225 lb senior could be the best quarterback in the NEC, and he should rack up yards and points this year, after getting 2,436 yards passing and 16 touchdowns last season.

In College Sports Journal's preseason NEC picks, the Seahawks were picked to finish 3rd, and with their strong finish last year in NEC play, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they will be competing for the title and an FCS Playoffs autobid.

He also has Wagner's leading rusher, RB Denzel Knight, and Thomson's leading receiver, 6'6, 210 lb WR John Williams, are also coming back, so at all the important skill positions, the Seahawks have someone important returning.   On offense, the Seahawks play a 3 wide receiver base set that balances the run and pass fairly well.

Also, worryingly, LB Santorini Graham, Wagner's leading tackler last year, also returns, so it might not be wise to look at Wagner's two-year record and assume a win is all but assured.  Wagner plays a conventional 3-4 defense.

Beautiful Hameline Field
Personally I'm excited to head up to Staten Island to see Wagner since it's a venue I've never been to before.  Hameline Field at Wagner Stadium is small, capacity, 3,500, but it's a pretty field, based on the pictures.

But the big concern about the Wagner game isn't the field, it's the thought that Lehigh might forget about the game, the fact that it's on the road and is the final out-of-conference game the Mountain Hawks will play before the big Patriot League games show up on the schedule.

It's early, but I'm personally really looking forward to this one.

WAGNER

When: September 30th, 6:00 PM
Where: ameline Field at Wagner Stadium, Staten Island, NY
Overall Series: First-ever meeting
TV: None, live stream available through NEC Front Row
Key player Returning: QB Alex Thomson

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How The Ivy League Is Able To Break the NCAA's Scholarship Limits and Still Consider Themselves FCS

By now you've seen the results.  In 2018, the Ivy League has taken the FCS by storm. Perhaps it was Penn's 30-10 defeat of Lehigh a couple of weeks ago .  Or maybe it was Princeton's 50-9 drubbing of another team that made the FCS Playoffs last year, Monmouth.  Or maybe it was Yale's shockingly dominant 35-14 win over nationally-ranked Maine last weekend. The Ivy League has gone an astounding 12-4 so far in out-of-conference play, many of those wins coming against the Patriot League. But it's not just against the Patriot League where the Ivy League has excelled.  Every Ivy League school has at least one out-of-conference victory, which is remarkable since it is only three games into their football season.  The four losses - Rhode Island over Harvard, Holy Cross over Yale, Delaware over Cornell, and Cal Poly over Brown - were either close losses that could have gone either way or expected blowouts of teams picked to be at the bottom of the Ivy League. W

Made-Up Midseason Grades for Lehigh Football

 We are now officially midway through the 2023 Lehigh football season.  The Mountain Hawks sit at 1-5 overall, and 0-1 in the Patriot League. I thought I'd go ahead and make up some midseason grades, and set some "fan goals" for the second half. The 2023 Mountain Hawks were picked to finish fifth in the seven team Patriot League.  In order to meet or exceed that expectation, they'll probably have to go at least 3-2 the rest of the way in conference play.  Their remaining games are vs. Georgetown, at Bucknell, vs. Holy Cross, at Colgate, and vs. Lafayette in The Rivalry. Can they do it? Culture Changing: B+ .  I was there in the Bronx last week after the tough 38-35 defeat to Fordham, and there wasn't a single player emerging from the locker room that looked like they didn't care.  Every face was glum.  They didn't even seem sad.  More frustrated and angry. That may seem normal, considering the agonizing way the Mountain Hawks lost, but it was a marked chan

Eleven Guys Who Might Be Lafayette's Next Head Football Coach

It was a surprise.  Well, to me, anyway. Most people assumed that Lafayette head coach John Garrett was safe as the Leopards' head coach.  Though his five year record wasn't great, he had beaten bitter Rival Lehigh in two out of the last three Rivalry games, despite a tough 17-10 loss to Lehigh the final week of the year. Listening to the post-game press conference, I also didn't pick up on some of the signs that his job security might be in jeopardy.  Garrett was a bit prickly, but it was understandable - he had just lost a game to Lafayette's Rivals.  "The future is bright for Lafayette football," he said, not letting on that he might not be a part of that future. But by Monday, the announcement was made - after five years leading the Leopard football team, "Lafayette College will not renew the contract of head football coach John Garrett," a short press release stated.  "A national search for his replacement will begin immediately.  Defensive