In Lehigh football’s season opener against St. Francis last Saturday, a surprising face led the Mountain Hawks out of the tunnel and onto the field.
Junior quarterback Tyler Monaco was given the starting spot, replacing the typical starter, senior Brad Mayes.
“It was a really cool thing, very exciting,” Monaco said. “Preparing and training for the past few years proved to be rewarding out on the field and playing football.”
Offensive coordinator Scott Brisson was able to see his execution after so much training.
“I thought he did really well, I was really proud of him,” Brisson said. “He did what we asked him to do, he converted a really huge third down on his first drive. This is just going to help develop him and make our team stronger.”
However, the reason for Monaco’s first start was not as positive as his play. The junior had to stand in because Mayes was suspended from playing in the first quarter of the game after comitting a team academic violation.
“I hate that it got out on social media that I had an academic violation,” Mayes said. “What I got suspended for, I ended up getting a B- in the class, anyway.”
Mayes said the academic violation revolved around an internal situation he had to deal with between his coaches and academic-athletic advisers. He said he has since moved past the situation and is now fully eligible to play in every game for the rest of the season.
“We want (Mayes) to improve and develop on a daily basis academically, socially and leadership-wise,” Brisson said. “He is an impressive quarterback but there is room for growth that I think will help him on the field on a consistent basis.”
Brisson said his overall goal for the whole team is to be locked in and focused on the task at hand. He said this year’s group exemplifies grit and toughness, and it’s just a matter of getting them to be consistent on a daily basis.
Monaco’s goals align with those of Brisson.
“My personal goals for this season are to be as prepared as possible and be ready to contribute whenever the team asks me to,” Monaco said. “I just want to be ready whenever my team calls on me.”
Monaco said he has a great relationship with Mayes, who he looks up to and learns from.
“Based on whatever I am going through (Monaco) is ready to step up,” Mayes said. “I thought he did an outstanding job and we still would’ve won the game if he played all four quarters.”