Breaking down The Rivalry: Four mini Lehigh football profiles

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Nick Shafnisky
Quarterback, junior

Junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky looks to throw a pass in a game against Yale University on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Lehigh lost the game 27-12. (Gaby Morera/ BW Staff)

Junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky. (Gaby Morera/ BW Staff)

This will be Shafnisky’s third start against Lafayette in his three years with the team. Shafnisky said the biggest thing that’s improved over the years has been his confidence. He returned last week as the team’s starter against Colgate University after being used primarily as a backup in the previous two games. Shafnisky has continued to improve as a dual threat quarterback, totaling 1,996 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, but also posting 565 rushing yards and an additional 11 touchdowns on the ground. Shafnisky went to high school just 20 minutes away from Lehigh and was actually recruited by both Lehigh and Lafayette. He first was introduced to the rivalry in middle school, but wasn’t fully aware of its level of importance and history until his junior year of high school.

“You start to realize how big it is, and the game is bigger than just our team, it’s the whole school,” he said. “It’s the university, it’s alumni, it’s for every other football player that’s ever played and all the other athletes. It’s crazy to think how long this tradition has been going, and you don’t want to let anyone down. That’s my motivation.”

Troy Pelletier
Wide receiver, sophomore

Sophomore wide receiver Troy Pelletier jumps to make a catch in a game against Yale University on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Pelletier finished the game with 10 catches for 104 yards. (Austin Vitelli/B&W Staff)

Sophomore wide receiver Troy Pelletier (Austin Vitelli/B&W Staff)

Pelletier had a strong freshman campaign, recording 49 catches for 815 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games. He had three catches for 25 yards in last season’s 27-7 loss at Yankee Stadium to the Leopards. This season, he started off a bit slow due to a nagging injury, but he still has 73 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns and has a chance to exceed all major receiving statistical categories in the game against the Leopards. He has had at least five receptions in each of the last eight games, including more than 10 receptions in four separate games. His biggest game of the season came against Princeton University where he racked up a career-high 15 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.

Tyler Cavenas
Defensive lineman, sophomore

151118_Cavenas_Courtesy_Print

Sophomore defensive lineman Tyler Cavenas (Courtesy Lehigh Athletics)

Cavenas was one of only a few freshman to play significant time on defense last season, finishing the year with 12 tackles, one tackle for loss and two blocked kicks. Now playing in his second season with the team, he has stepped up into a bigger role on the defensive line, recording 25 tackles, one tackle for loss and two fumble recoveries in nine games. Cavenas was first exposed to The Rivalry back in his senior year of high school, watching the game from the stands. After playing his first game against Lafayette last year in Yankee Stadium, which he called the best experience in his football career, Cavenas said he’s excited for his first home game against the Leopards.

“Just watching it, you enjoy the game for what it is, and you see how many people support this game and how many people actually care about this game,” he said of his experience watching the game in high school. “And now by participating in it, there’s a lot more on the line. But if you beat Lafayette, everyone’s going to be like ‘good job’ around campus. It’s just a huge thing actually participating in it as opposed to watching it.”

Olivier Rigaud
Defensive back, senior

Senior defensive back Olivier Rigaud intercepts a pass against James Madison University's redshirt-senior wide receiver Daniel Brown at Goodman Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 6th 2014 at the Lehigh Football game. Lehigh is currently 5-5 overall and 3-2 in Patriot League play. (Andrew Garrison/B&W Photo)

Senior defensive back Olivier Rigaud (Andrew Garrison/B&W Photo)

Rigaud, one of the team’s defensive captains this season, has put together back-to-back seasons as one of the top tackles in the secondary. Last year, he had 46 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception, including a then-career high nine tackles against Lafayette in the 150th rivalry game.

“Definitely as a captain, I’m going to make sure I lead these guys to a win this year,” he said. “I have seen success against Lafayette, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have another big game and leave it with a bang.”

This season he has recorded 54 tackles, his most in any season while at Lehigh. Rigaud said that it is bittersweet going into the last game of his Lehigh football career, but that he was ready to embrace it.

“College football and college is one of those things where you wish you can go back and do it all over again, but the experience is so incredible you’re content with how it is,” he said. “You just have to take it one day at a time.”

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