|« Princeton: Surace Getting His First Look At Tigers||Ivy League looks to expand TV coverage »|
Lehigh Spring Season Ends
The football team returns to the gridiron Saturday at Goodman Stadium, when all of its hard work in the spring segment culminates with the Brown and White scrimmage. For fifth year Head Coach Andy Coen, expectations remain high after a woeful 2009 campaign, in which the Mountain Hawks finished 4-7 overall, but boasted a 4-2 Patriot League mark. Lehigh also has carried the momentum of a thrilling end to the 2009 regular season into spring practices by defeating archrival Lafayette College Leopards in a historical overtime battle.
Despite the rollercoaster ride of last season, the Hawks return a strong contingent of players, including 17 starters and 43 letter winners. Fueling intense position battles within the squad, this statistic has translated into lofty goals for the 2010 season.
“Practice has been great,” rising senior defensive back Jarard Cribbs said. “The weather has been very satisfying, and each side of the ball is getting better day by day. The offense has been gelling very nicely, with the addition of our new offensive coordinator, Coach Cecchini, and practice has been a very competitive environment.”
Most of the woes that plagued last season’s campaign came on the offensive side of the ball, where Lehigh finished fifth in the Patriot League in both scoring offense - 20.9 points/game - and total offense - 318.0 yards/game.
Coen reintroduced former Lehigh Assistant Coach and Offensive Coordinator Dave Cecchini to the Hawk’s coaching staff.
Cecchini, a former All-American wide receiver and Lehigh graduate, worked under former Hawks Head Coach Pete Lembo from 2001-2003, but left Lehigh to pursue coaching opportunities with The Citadel and Harvard University.
Cecchini and Coen will work with the incoming freshman class and nine offensive returning starters including sophomore wide receivers DeVaughn Gordon and Jake Drwal and tight end Alex Wojdowski, running back Jay Campbell, quarterback J.B. Clark and offensive linemen Will Rackley, Ricky Clerge, Keith Schauder and R.J. McNamara, all rising seniors.
In 2009, sophomores Gordon and Drwal proved to be threats as wide receivers, combining for 81 receptions, 1,145 yards and eight touchdowns.
Clark had his ups and downs during the fall, but found his stride toward the end of the ‘09 campaign. His heroic performance against Lafayette earned him his second consecutive Most Valuable Player honor.
Defensively, Lehigh is searching to fill the shoes of three key players: All-American linebacker Matt Cohen, All-League lineman BJ Benning and safety Jesse Sanchez.
However, coaches look to rising senior defensive backs John Kennedy and Jarard Cribbs, as well as David Brown on the defensive line, to serve as catalysts in the Lehigh defense.
Still, the quest for Patriot League glory and a Division I-AA playoff birth begins Saturday in the inter-squad game, and the chase continues in the months leading up to fall camp.
“Because we’ve been out of the pads and away from our playbooks since the thrilling overtime win over Lafayette, we see the spring practices and game as a time to refresh ourselves with the system again,” Cribbs said.
According to Kennedy, Saturday also means showing the public that this year’s squad is hungry to prove itself, despite last season’s troubles.
“As a team, we are looking to go out and prove to our families, fans, coaches and ourselves that we are a better team than we were last year,” Kennedy said. “We are out to prove that the 2010 Lehigh football team is heading in a new direction, going down a more successful path and getting the fans, family and coaches excited and ready for next season.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s Brown and White spring game is set for 10 a.m. at Goodman Stadium.
By Kenny Burgessa, The Brown and White