Lehigh ranked 16th in Sports Network preseason poll
Posted: 08/13/2012 | Last updated: August 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – As the Lehigh football team opens its second week of preseason camp, the Mountain Hawks learned Monday that they earned a preseason national ranking in the first of two major polls to be released. Lehigh comes in at No. 16 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 unveiled Monday afternoon. The two-time defending Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks are the only league squad to be ranked in the top 25.
The Sports Network FCS Top 25 includes votes from sports information directors and media members covering FCS Football.
The Mountain Hawks captured their tenth Patriot League football championship in 2011, finishing at 11-2 overall. Following a first round bye, Lehigh defeated Towson 40-38 in the second round of the FCS playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. Lehigh won its eighth Lambert Cup, given to the top Eastern team in the FCS, and finished the season ranked fifth by the Sports Network. The Mountain Hawks were ranked sixth in the final FCS Coaches Poll, the 2012 preseason version of which has yet to be released.
Lehigh was picked to win its third Patriot League title last month at the league’s annual media day. The Mountain Hawks return 11 starters including seven All-Patriot League performers, highlighted by senior wide receiver Ryan Spadola, who was named the league’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and was named to the watch list for the Walter Payton Award. All seven returning All-League performers were named to the inaugural Preseason All-League team at media day.
The Mountain Hawks garnered 1,514 points in the poll, 296 behind 15th place Delaware and 175 more than Stony Brook, which came in at No. 17. Sam Houston State took the top spot in the poll with 79 first place votes. The rest of the top five features defending national champion North Dakota State at No. 2, then Georgia Southern, Montana State and James Madison.
None of Lehigh’s 2012 opponents appear in the top 25 but three are listed among others receiving votes: Liberty, which garnered 150 points; Holy Cross, which accumulated seven; and Georgetown, which earned three. Lehigh will face all three schools on the road this season.
The Mountain Hawks have two more weeks of preseason camp before shifting focus to their season opener against Monmouth September 1 at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh put on full pads for the first time in camp on Saturday and held its first double session on Sunday. The Mountain Hawks’ first scheduled off-day in camp is Wednesday, when Lehigh will take its annual team photo. The first full-squad scrimmage of camp is set for Friday afternoon.