Rivalry 153: Three mini Lehigh football profiles

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Before Saturday’s highly anticipated game against Lafayette, The Brown and White talked to three of the Lehigh football team’s top performers this season.

Brad Mayes
Quarterback, junior

Junior quarterback Brad Mayes (#4) throws a pass on Sep. 9 at Goodman Stadium. Mayes leads the Patriot League in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. (Andy Bickel/B&W Staff)

This year has been a breakout year for Mayes, as he finally took over the full-time starting role after sitting behind Nick Shafnisky for the past two years. As a sophomore, Mayes started three games after Shafnisky went down with an injury. In one of those games, he set career highs of 524 passing yards and six touchdowns. In his short stint last year, Mayes poised himself for a breakout year in 2017. He leads the Patriot League in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. Mayes is looking to continue that success into his first opportunity to start in the Rivalry game.

“It’s an outstanding honor to play quarterback in the most-played Rivalry ever, but I can’t let that get the best of me,” Mayes said. “It’s obviously going to be a big game, and it will be the biggest game of my career with the implications that this game has. I have to play within myself and do what I’ve been taught since I started playing quarterback when I was nine.”

Mark Walker
Linebacker, junior

Junior linebacker Mark Walker (#20) leads the Mountain Hawks onto the field of Goodman Stadium on Nov. 11. Walker ranks third on the team in tackles. (Sam Henry/B&W Staff)

In his three years on the Lehigh football team, Walker’s roles on the field and as a leader have consistently increased. As a freshman, he played primarily as a special teams player, and during his sophomore season he saw more time as a linebacker. At the end of his sophomore season, he recorded a career-high five tackles in Lehigh’s playoff loss to the University of New Hampshire. Despite the outcome of the game, Walker set himself up to fulfill a prominent role as a Lehigh defender. Walker has played a huge part in the defensive turnaround in the middle of the 2017 season, ranking third on the team in tackles. His top three defensive performances were all against league opponents.

“Just playing in this game, it’s just an honor, to be honest,” Walker said. “Especially being in a bigger role on the defensive side, it’s definitely going to be a great experience. As a defense, we’ve become a lot closer and a lot more aggressive in league play, and I am just telling the younger guys to ‘Just be you, and the rest will take care of itself.’”

Tyler Cavenas
Defensive Lineman, senior

Senior defensive lineman Tyler Cavenas (#90) blocks a punt during the Holy Cross game on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Goodman Stadium. Cavenas has three and a half sacks and six tackles for loss this year. (Sam Henry/B&W Staff)

Going into his final Lehigh-Lafayette game, Cavenas is looking to continue the success he’s had in the past. In his sophomore season, Cavenas helped the Mountain Hawks redeem their loss at Yankee Stadium by recording a career-high in tackles and recovering two fumbles. In his junior season, Cavenas continued his strong play against Lafayette. He helped Lehigh secure a Patriot League title, recorded four tackles and blocked an extra point in the win. Cavenas, who has three and a half sacks and six tackles for loss this year, will try to wreak havoc in the backfield against Lafayette.

“We always talk about how it’s a new season,” Cavenas said. “Even when you start the season, there’s a little part of you in the back of your mind that’s thinking ‘Rivalry game.’ It’s more than just the people on the field, too. This Rivalry game is huge, and everyone on campus is talking about it. You don’t realize how big it is and what it means to a lot of people, and I’m the one who’s actually going to be the one playing in it.”

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