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Lehigh Seniors Want to End on Winning Note Against Bucknell, Lafayette
The one thing that Lehigh and Lafayette football people agree on is that no matter what happens during the course of the season, the two teams can always look forward to their ‘’bowl game'’ on that Saturday before Thanksgiving.
That game alone will keep the Mountain Hawks motivated and focused over the next 10 days.
But before the celebrated 144th renewal of college football’s most-played rivalry, there’s Saturday’s date against Bucknell.
It is the seniors last chance to play at Goodman Stadium and, after last week’s heartbreak, there’s no doubt that the Lehigh players wearing the home brown for the last time want a happy memory to take with them.
‘’Four years goes by so fast, it’s really hard to believe that we’re down to these last two games,'’ said senior tight end Troy Healion. ‘’We’re coming off a tough, emotional loss [34-33 to Colgate]. The seniors feel as though they still have a lot to prove.
‘’We hope to come out with a lot of emotion early against Bucknell and put up a lot of points quick.'’
Lehigh may be 3-6 and out of Patriot League consideration at 2-2, but the team has shown an ability to pick itself up after a disheartening defeat.
Last Saturday’s loss was Lehigh’s fourth by three points or less and you wonder how many times it can keep picking itself off the mat.
Healion said not to worry.
‘’We’re still a confident group that has gotten better every week and we still plan to come out strong in these last two weeks and try to end our careers on a good note,'’ he said.
‘’All year we’ve felt we’re better than some of the results we’ve gotten. As much as we know we’re better than that, at the end of the day, you’re only as good as your record says you are. People compliment us and say how hard we played the No. 24-ranked team in the nation [Colgate], but we looked at them as a beatable team. We were up two touchdowns. It was tough to take.'’
Coach Andy Coen has credited the senior group for keeping things together when it would have been easy for it to fall apart.
‘’The rest of the season is about the seniors,'’ Coen said. ‘’I want our seniors to end with a good couple of weeks and go out on a strong note. I feel strongly about this senior class. This will always be a special group to me. They’ve done a great job of keeping their focus week after week through a very challenging season. I credit their leadership for keeping us going.'’
Coen noted how things have changed with college athletes. They no longer have the patience to wait their turn. The days of kids automatically staying with a program for four years, no matter what, are gone.
‘’We’ve got several guys who are having their first opportunity to be significant players as seniors and they deserve credit for that,'’ Coen said. ‘’There aren’t enough kids these days who work through three or four years to become good players.
‘’So many kids – in all sports – if they don’t play as a freshman or a sophomore, they’ll leave the program or do something else. So, I have a special place in my heart for guys who stick to it, keep working hard and know it’s important to be on a team and enjoy being a part of it. This senior class has a lot of guys who have done that.'’
And now, as a reward, Coen would love to see them end with a win on Saturday and then look ahead to one that could wipe away a lot of misery on Nov. 22.
‘’These last two games could be a great send-off for our seniors and then a springboard into our offseason for the kids who are coming back,'’ Coen said. ‘’I'm confident that we’re going to come out and play hard.'’
Lehigh lines: Saturday will be Military Appreciation Day at Goodman Stadium and all veterans and active personnel and their families can purchase general admission tickets for $5. Also, two servicemen who were wounded in Iraq – Angel (Manny) Pina of Mifflinburg and Jonathan Berceli of Pittsburgh – will be honorary captains and join the Lehigh captains on the field for the coin toss. * Lehigh has beaten Bucknell 10 times in a row. *… Tailback Matt McGowan will be held out again as he deals with a high ankle sprain.
Lehigh seniors want to end on winning note
By Keith Groller Of The Morning Call