Lehigh Brown/White Scrimmage Focuses on Football Fun And Prep For Upcoming Season

If there’s one thing about spring football I’ve learned over the years is sometimes, it’s not the highlight reel plays that indicates success or failure.

It’s more about the little things, and for all Division I football teams there are hundreds of little things that need to be established and ironed out.

The spring session at Lehigh yesterday had some great individual moments – like LB Michael McCormick winning the annual Jim Gum scholarship, to the delight of all of his teammates and head coach Kevin Cahill.

Photo Credit: Holly Fasching

There was the exciting two-minute drill to start things off, one of the competitions Cahill has instituted between the offense and defense. After the defense stuffed the first two attempts, RB Luke Yoder ran one in, WR Mason Humphrey elevated to make an incredible catch, and QB Dante Perri ran it in, causing the offense to mob one another as the defense had to do pushups.

There were a fair number of breaks in the action. The open sessions where fans could catch punts from P/K Caanan Kimball, and catch touchdown passes from QB Dante Perri. When one kid did a backflip after catching the touchdown, it got a big cheer from the fans in attendance.

And in the final two-minute drills, QB Matt Rauscher would find TE Nick Williams at the goal line for the lone touchdown of the afternoon, complete with a well-earned end zone celebration.

It was all fun spring football on a Saturday afternoon – a celebration, a gate swinging open for the 2024 season.

But focusing on the celebration really doesn’t show the whole picture of what the spring season was, as talking with coach Cahill revealed.

On the lines, there was a renewed focus on something important that isn’t always visible on the beautiful spring grass – the weight room.

“Coach Mike Morita does a fantastic job with the offensive line, and he’s continuing to work those guys and develop those guys,” Cahill told me. “A lot of that focus was in the weight room and getting them stronger. Coach Erik Markovcy has done a fantastic job with our guys in the weight room. The guys are working their butts off and are stronger, but we’ve got to play stronger.”

Like last year, Lehigh’s spring was affected by numbers. As it turns out the Mountain Hawks will be welcoming a large incoming freshman class and some transfers next fall, so with about 55 athletes suiting up – some of them held out from contact – meaning the luxury of playing an entire simulated game wasn’t really possible.

One of those guys was OL George Padezanin, one of last year’s captains that got injured during the first game of the year and was out for the year, but hopes to be 100% in the fall.

I also talked with coach Cahill about some of the rising sophomores that are going through their first collegiate spring season. Injuries and necessity meant quite a large number of true freshmen playing for Lehigh last season, which meant guys like RB Luke Yoder, DL Andrew Sharga and WR Mason Humphrey, who were big contributors last season, were going through their Division I football program spring preparations.

“For a lot of them, this is their first ever spring ball, and we’ve got to teach them,” Cahill said. “When it’s your first ever spring ball and you’re on the field at 5:45, 6:00 in the morning, that’s a lot we’re asking out of them. But I think that class really responded. There are a lot of really good leaders in that class, so we’re proud of them.”

There’s also the element of the practices themselves. There’s this thread running through all the drills of learning lessons from the pains of last year’s 2-9 season.

“We look at everything we do and we look back to last year,” Cahill said. “What did we struggle with? If we struggled with a certain type of tackle, let’s focus on that type of tackle this year. We didn’t think we were very strong, so we had to focus in the weight room. Every time you play a game, you’re going to learn a lesson. Sometimes if you win the game, it’s still going to mask a lesson, but we got to win the game. Our goal is to win more games, obviously, but we got to take care of a lot of lessons we learned last year.”

After the spring session, what’s next?

“So now we’re going to finish up strong in the weight room, and finish up strong academically, and head into the offseason,” Cahill said. “And then we’ve got a whole plan for them in the summertime, and then we’re back out here in July, and we’re back at it in preseason, getting ready for Army.”

The Lehigh football season will kick off Friday August 31st at Army-West Point, a game which is likely to be carried on CBS Sports Network. The following week, the 2024 Mountain Hawks will have their first chance to unveil to the home crowd their team at home versus Wagner at Murray Goodman Stadium.