Posted: 07/25/2011 | Last updated: July 25, 2011 at 02:29 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Patriot League is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a football conference in 2011. Lehigh has been the gold standard in Patriot League football, winning a league-best nine championships including the outright title in 2010. On Monday, the Patriot League unveiled its 25th Anniversary football team with six members of the Lehigh program named to the squad.
Offensively, the Mountain Hawks are represented on the team by lineman Will Rackley ’11 and tight end Adam Bergen ’05, while the 25th anniversary defense features defensive end Nick Martucci ’99, linebackers Matt Cohen ’09 and Ian Eason ’00 and safety Abdul Byron ’02. All six men were part of at least one Patriot League championship winning team for Lehigh and all six were voted on to the squad by the athletic departments of the current Patriot League football member institutions.
Rackley, the only member of the class of 2011 to be named to the 25th Anniversary team, ended his stellar career in the Brown and White as a three-time first team All-Patriot League selections. A four-year starter for the Mountain Hawks, Rackley earned third team All-America honors as a junior and earned numerous All-America laurels as a senior, including first team honors from the Associated Press. Rackley co-captained Lehigh to the 2010 Patriot League title and the league’s first NCAA playoff win since 2003 when the Mountain Hawks won at UNI. He played in the East-West Shrine Game, and in April was selected in the third round (76th overall) of the NFL draft, marking the highest a Patriot League football player has been ever been drafted.
Bergen was recognized as anniversary team’s tight end after catching 147 passes for 1,720 yards and 17 touchdowns from 2001-2004. A two-time first team all-league selection, Bergen enjoyed a breakout junior season, where he hauled in 70 receptions for 840 yards, and followed up with 54 grabs for 634 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. Bergen was a member of Patriot League Championship squads in 2001 and 2004. He earned first team All-America honors following his junior and senior seasons and also played in the East-West Shrine Game. Bergen signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and spent two seasons with the Cardinals. Currently, Bergen plays for the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League.
On the defensive side, Martucci represents the Brown and White on the defensive line. A four-year starter at left defensive end, Martucci was one of the most dominant defensive linemen in Patriot League history. Martucci was a two-time first team All-Patriot League selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1998 when he captained the Mountain Hawks to a 12-1 record and NCAA Quarterfinal appearance. He ranks ninth in Patriot League history with 24 career sacks, and led the Patriot League in sacks in each of the final two seasons. He was named a first team All-American by the Associated Press and the NFCA in 1998 and was a third-team Sports Network All-American as well as an ECAC All-Star. Martucci was named the Patriot League’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football following his senior season.
Like Martucci, Eason was named to the Patriot League’s 15th anniversary team in 2000. Eason is one of just ten four-time All-Patriot League selections in football, earning second team honors in 1996 and 1997 before moving up to the first team for his final two seasons. He was a key member of Lehigh’s 1998 team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals, and as a senior was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year after helping lead the Brown and White to their fourth league title. Eason was named a first team All-American by the AFCA and earned third team All-America accolades from the Associated Press and Sports Network.
One of just two members from the class of 2010 named to the team, Cohen firmly established himself as one of the dominant defensive players of his time within the Patriot League. A three-time All-Patriot League selection, Cohen was named to the first team in 2008 and 2009. As a senior, Cohen was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the first Mountain Hawk since 2001 to record the honor. Cohen finished his Lehigh career with 177 total tackles, 18.5 sacks and 44 tackles-for-loss. Cohen won a league title as a freshman in 2006 and was instrumental in mentoring many of the Lehigh defenders who contributed to the Mountain Hawks 2010 title run. He earned first team Walter Camp and Sports Network All-America honors and was named a second team All-American by the Associated Press.
Byron rounds out the list of Mountain Hawks named to the 25th anniversary team. A member of one of the most successful classes in school history, Byron won four Patriot League Championships in four years and was a part of three NCAA playoff wins. A strong safety, Byron was a two-time first team All-Patriot League selection and was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 after helping the Mountain Hawks to an undefeated regular season, 11-1 final record and No. 5 final national ranking. As a junior, Byron earned third team All-America honors from the Sports Network, and followed that up by being named a first team All-American by both the Associated Press and the Sports Network in 2001.
Lehigh’s six selections ranked second among all Patriot League schools. The Mountain Hawks will begin the quest for their tenth Patriot League football title when preseason camp begins next month. The 2011 season opener is set for September 3, when Lehigh visits Monmouth, while the Mountain Hawks’ Patriot League Opener will be October 8 at Bucknell.