It’s a memorable time for Lehigh students come mid-November, as the football team prepares for the 151st Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry game. The freshmen, the newest members of the team, are getting ready to try to bring home a win at one of Lehigh’s most anticipated sporting events.
The freshmen have been preparing for the big game by staying optimistic and focused on their goals.
Freshman linebacker Jake Buskirk has high aspirations for his football career against Lafayette.
“I’m really, really excited,” Buskirk said. “I’m hoping to go 4-0 against them. I know we lost the past two years, so I’m hoping that my class will be the first class in a while to go 4-0.”
Buskirk grew up in Whitehall, under 30 minutes away from Lehigh, and went to many Lehigh football games when he was younger. He distinctly remembers what the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry was like growing up.
“It was a really big deal,” he said. “Lots of people went to the games and it is a really great tradition.”
Unlike Buskirk, defensive lineman Harrison Kauffman is from Montana, yet he had similar experiences in hearing about the rivalry and is also exhilarated for game day.
“I’m just excited,” Kauffman said. “The coolest thing ever was when they played last year, it was in my newspaper in Montana. It’s been on my radar for so long, so it’s going to be so cool to experience.”
Known for his kicking abilities on the field as well as his Mario Kart skills off the field, freshman kicker Ed Mish is looking forward to playing in front of such a large audience.
“My high school was pretty big, so I’ve played in front of a couple thousand people pretty consistently, but to think that there’s a decent shot that there will be 10,000+ fans there is really awesome,” Mish said.
Mish is looking to come out on top on Saturday, but realizes that winning will be a challenge. Although Lafayette has performed poorly this year, Mish pointed out that records can be thrown out the window because this is the 151st meeting of the rivalry and the unexpected can occur.
The team is going in with a strategy of executing to win.
“We just need to play a complete game, which we’ve been saying all year,” Buskirk said.
This entails both the offense and defense stepping up their game and performing their best for the entire game. Buskirk mentioned that in the past, the team has faced challenges where either the offense or defense struggled while the other played great.
However, he said that if both sides of the ball can play consistently, he thinks the team should have no problem beating the Leopards.
The freshmen on the team are incredibly motivated to win as a way to show the seniors on their team how much they appreciate their leadership and mentorship.
“They’ve been so great mentoring me this year, that if it comes down to me I want to make it a win to say thank you to the seniors since they’ve been so helpful this year and in my transition from high school,” Mish said.
Kauffman is also driven to bring home a win as a way to give to the older players on the team.
“Our slogan is ‘family’ and the family aspect here is a lot more than I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “I really think that the older guys got your back and it’s a way to show that we’ve really got their back.”