The Lehigh Mountain Hawks begin their strike for a third Patriot League Championship in a row. The Brown and White sat down with sophomore wide receiver Jorge Portorreal, senior quarterback Brad Mayes, senior linebacker Mark Walker and junior defensive back Riley O’Neil to talk about football, music and memories.
Q: What was your first memory playing football?
Jorge Portorreal: Actually, my first play was pretty terrible. I was in an age bracket called “Might Mites” in second or third grade, and it was a kickoff, and I got absolutely obliterated. I didn’t want to play any more after that, but my parents made me stick it out and as the season went on, I got a lot better.
Brad Mayes: When I was seven years old, I played in a division of seven to nine year olds, so I was one of the youngest guys on the team. I told my parents I wanted to quit and play baseball. But my coach ended up convincing me to stay, and I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if I went through with quitting.
Mark Walker: It was my first game ever. I think I was seven, and I didn’t even know I was in the starting lineup. I was wearing a full-cage face mask and my pads were way too big for me. I scored a 70-yard touchdown and I was like, “Woah, that was fun.”
Riley O’Neil: Back in the third grade, me and all buddies from home were on the same little league football team. Being the first kids to be playing elementary football gave us a sort of ‘cool guy’ reputation around school.
Q: What talent would you most like to have that is outside of sports?
JP: That’s tough. Being someone like Kevin Hart, like a funny guy, would be pretty awesome.
BM: To learn how to play the guitar. I wish I could play the guitar. I’m big into country music and I always find it fascinating that people can be so talented at things other than athleticism. I’ve always wanted to try and do other things outside of football.
MW: I’m trying to learn to be fluent in German. I got thrown into the language in seventh grade when it was that time that you have to pick a language to study, and I forgot to. The principal told my mom to sign me up for German and I enjoyed it. It was probably my favorite class.
RO: It’d be so cool to sing. I’d be like a Chris Brown kind of guy, maybe even some country. It would also boost my lifestyle a little more for sure.
Q: Who listens to the worst music on the team?
JP: Tom Zuewsky, by far. Anytime he’s on the aux, it’s terrible. He only plays straight country music … I don’t dislike country music — I love certain country music — but he just plays some ridiculous songs.
BM: Liborio (Ricottilli). He listens to rock and oldies music. It doesn’t work for me, but whatever works for you, man.
MW: I don’t think he listens to bad music, but Jorge Portorreal. He’ll listen to same six songs all the time and he’ll play it in the locker room on repeat. It drives me insane. I like his music, but it’s the same songs everyday.
RO: Derek Lomax. He listens to all those different kinds of ‘SoundCloud rappers.’ He likes them just because they’re unknown and on SoundCloud.
Q: What win felt the sweetest and what loss stung the worst so far in your career?
JP: The Lafayette game last year was my favorite. We were down ten at halftime. I was also really, really sick, so for me it was a big game. I played terribly in the first half. I don’t even think I touched the ball. But the championship was on the line so we had to get it done one way or the other, and it was really cool to come back and win the way we did. The Wagner game was probably the worst loss. We didn’t play as a whole unit. We were banged up with injuries, but the guys who were out there just didn’t play to their full potential, myself included. It was a game we should have won.
BM: Has to be Lafayette from last year. To have the ability to come back after halftime being down ten and end up winning our second straight Patriot League Championship, I would say that game for sure. Last year’s Villanova game was probably the worst. We haven’t beaten a (Colonial Athletic Association) team in a long time and we easily could’ve won that game. We had a couple turnovers in the red zone and if we fix those mistakes we win by 10 points at least. To beat a good team like them for our opening game could have completely changed the beginning of the season.
MW: I would say it’s between St. Francis this year, because it really felt like we were in a dog fight and we won, or the Colgate game last year when I luckily fell on to the fumble and beat a really good team while being win-less at that point. The worst loss in my career was my first start against New Hampshire. I wasn’t familiar with all the plays and it was the first round of the playoffs. It was a cold, dark night and we got ran over, to say the least.
RO: Lafayette from last year. We won the Patriot League with that win, and obviously it was Lehigh and Lafayette, so it was a huge rivalry game. The worst loss was on our five-game losing streak last season to Wagner, which was a game we definitely should have won. That was the most eye-opening game, and probably stung the most.