BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The 2011 Lehigh football banquet was held on Saturday, February 18, inside Iacocca Hall on Mountaintop campus. The banquet provided an opportunity for the coaches and student-athletes to reflect on one of the finest seasons in school annals. The Mountain Hawks’ 2011 season was a highlighted by Lehigh’s fourth consecutive win over rival Lafayette, its tenth Patriot League title, and its first NCAA quarterfinal berth in ten years.
More than 300 players, coaches, parents, friends and support staff were present at the event. The banquet included the assignment of game balls from each if the team’s 11 wins, the season’s highlight video, and a dinner.
Not surprisingly, senior quarterback Chris Lum was named the team’s Athlete of the Year while also receiving the Archibald Johnston Cup for the most outstanding player. The two awards only add to Lum’s list of impressive postseason accolades, which included garnering All-American honors from a multiple media outlets and being voted second in the balloting for the Walter Payton Award, given to the outstanding player in the FCS. Lum put together one of the finest seasons for a quarterback in school history, passing for 4,378 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes.
Senior wide receiver Jake Drwal also received two awards on the evening. He won the department’s Coaches Award and the James P. McConologue All-Football award. Drwal served as the team’s tough possession receiver this season while also displaying big-play ability en route to 92 catches and 1,060 receiving yards. The Nebraska native also hauled in nine touchdown passes. Drwal’s season earned him first team All-Patriot League honors and All-American status from the College Sports Journal.
Senior linebacker Tanner Rivas was named the team’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Finance major carries a 3.51 cumulative GPA and has been excellent in the classroom during his tenure at Lehigh. Rivas’ 3.48 GPA during the 2011 fall season earned him a spot on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll and second straight appearance on the Academic All-League team. Rivas was solid on the field as well, registering 19 tackles, a sack, and two fumble recoveries, despite being limited to just ten games due to injury.
Junior Zach Barket earned the Best Offensive Back award. Before his season ended prematurely due to injury, Barket rushed for 706 yards and four touchdowns. He also showed his versatility in hauling in 33 catches, which was fourth on the team. Barket was also a first team All-Patriot League selection, as well as an Academic All-District selection.
Junior Ryan Spadola won the Top Receiver award for the second consecutive year. Spadola enjoyed the best season for a wide receiver in school history and was one of the top receivers in the FCS this past season. The New Jersey native led the team in catches (96) and set a school and Patriot League record with 1,614 receiving yards. Spadola’s speed and explosiveness helped him provide big play after big play for the Mountain Hawks. For his performance, Spadola has also been named an All-American by multiple media outlets in addition to garnering First Team All-Patriot League honors.
Senior Troy McKenna received the Best Offensive Lineman award. McKenna recovered nicely from a preseason foot injury in manning his left tackle position. His efforts in protecting Lum’s blind side were instrumental in the Mountain Hawks having one of the top offenses in the FCS. McKenna has also received AP All-American honors and been named to the first team All-Patriot League.
Senior Ben Flizack earned the Best Defensive Lineman award. The team’s tallest player at 6-foot-7, Flizack’s length caused problems for opposing offensive linemen all season. He led the team in sacks (7) and made 42 tackles from his defensive tackle position. Flizack was also a first team All-Patriot League selection.
Senior Mike Groome received the Best Linebacker award. Groome was the engine of Lehigh’s stopgap defense. Also a team captain, the New Jersey native led the team in tackles (117) and tied for first in interceptions (4). Groome was named an All-American by two media outlets and a first team All-Patriot League selection.
Senior Jon Littlejohn was awarded the Best Defensive Back. Littlejohn was a steadying veteran presence for Lehigh’s young secondary this season. The Florida native made his share of bone jarring hits that made opposing receivers think twice about going across the middle. In 13 games, Littlejohn made 41 tackles from his free safety position while recording three interceptions.
Senior Shane Ryan won the Special Teams award. While his contributions to the team were frequently unnoticed, the coaches appreciated Ryan’s efforts. He was the team’s long snapper and played a role on just about all of Lehigh’s special teams’ units.
Senior tight end Mark Wickware and senior linebacker Colin Newton both received the Barry Fetterman Award, which is given to the player(s) who best exemplify loyalty, dedication and unselfishness. Wickware started eight games at tight end and caught 15 passes. He earned a spot on the All-Patriot League first team. One of the team’s four captains, Newton’s high energy and vocal presence was widely appreciated by his teammates. One of the more athletic players on the squad, Newton finished second on the team in tackles (70) and sacks (five).
The John C. Whitehead “Big LU” Award, given to the player who shows the most leadership and performance, was awarded to senior offensive lineman Keith Schauder. A team captain, Schauder’s veteran presence was key to the team’s success. He willingly did whatever possible to contribute and it showed with his versatility in playing four different positions on the offensive line this season. Schauder started all 13 games and was named to the All-Patriot League second team.
Senior defensive lineman Andrew Knapp earned the Alexander G. Hahalis award for the outstanding lineman. The coaches lauded Knapp for doing the dirty work on the defensive line. The Ohio native started every game he was healthy for and recorded 25 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
The Nick C. Timko Awards (Engineer Effort Award) went to freshmen Matt Douglas and Tashan Mitchell. Douglas received the Scout Team Offense award and is an offensive lineman. Mitchell earned the Scout Team Defense award and is a linebacker.
Head coach Andy Coen surprised everyone at the end of the banquet with a short video hinting that the team’s Patriot League Championship rings were present. The players and everyone else in attendance erupted with excitement. Each player, coach and member of the support staff received their rings at the banquet.
Last week, the Mountain Hawks were honored for their outstanding season at the ECAC Awards Banquet held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Lehigh was honored as Lambert Cup Champions for the eighth time and was also recognized as the ECAC FCS Team of the Year. Lum received his ECAC FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award, and was recognized along with Spadola and McKenna as first team ECAC All-Stars. Drwal, Groome, senior center Jim Liebler and junior offensive lineman Mike Vuono were recognized last month as second team ECAC All-Stars.
Written by Antoine Williams ’12