For the past 155 years, the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry has produced numerous moments that have defined seasons and legacies. For both teams, the week leading up to the game is a highlight of the year, and participating in The Rivalry is a memory players on both sides never forget. Some players have accomplished the feat of winning all four rivalry games, while others have lost all four of them. No matter the outcome of The Rivalry, alumni have taken the lessons they learned from Lehigh’s football program to pursue their post-grad goals.
Brad Mayes: Quarterback, ’19
Brad Mayes graduated in May after excelling as the starting quarterback during his junior and senior year campaigns. During his junior year, Mayes earned First Team All Patriot League honors and was an All-ECAC selection. He also ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing yards and touchdown passes. The Mountain Hawks capitalized on two Patriot League titles during his Lehigh career.
Mayes went 4-0 against Lafayette during his tenure. During the 2016 Rivalry game in which Lehigh topped Lafayette 45-21 in Easton, Mayes appeared as a backup quarterback, completing 6-of-7 passes for 23 yards and one interception. He was named the MVP of the matchup at Goodman Stadium in 2017, leading the Mountain Hawks to a 38-31 come-from-behind win, which clinched the Patriot League title. He was 26-of-35 for 397 yards and three touchdowns.
“To not only compete in the longest-played rivalry, but to come out with a 4-0 record in those games is something I’ll never forget,” Mayes said.
Since graduation, Mayes has tried to pursue a career in professional football and has had tryouts with the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts and XFL teams. As of right now, he is training in Florida in pursuit of earning a spot on any professional team.
While pursuing a professional football career, Mayes is also works as a quarterbacks coach for his high school team, Berkeley Prep in Tampa, FL. If Mayes doesn’t make it to any of the professional leagues, he said he intends to further pursue a career in coaching, specifically on the offensive side where he can call his own plays.
Mayes credits current Lehigh offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scott Brisson for putting him in position to have a chance at playing professionally.
“(Brisson) helped me improve my football IQ the most and helped me become a more accurate thrower,” Mayes said.
Matt Butler: Linebacker, ’19 pic from drive
Like Mayes, linebacker Butler also had the privilege of being a part of the team that claimed two Patriot League titles and an undefeated record against Lafayette.
In the 2018 matchup, when Lehigh won 34-3 at Fisher Stadium, Butler had four tackles and two pass breakups. Although Lehigh didn’t produce the season it wanted, he said winning The Rivalry was “the perfect way to go out on top.”
He said his favorite memories from his four years on the team came from developing long-lasting friendships with his teammates. But beating Lafayette, of course, was another one that he will never forget.
“I think you don’t realize how big The Rivalry is until you’re a couple years in,” Butler said. “After beating them two or three times, you have that confidence that you’re not going to lose to them.”
Butler has been working for Marshall and Stevens, a financial evaluation firm in New York City, since he graduated in May.
He said his time on the team prepared for his financial occupation.
“You develop that work ethic and sense of pride, regardless of what you do,” Butler said. “It carries over to the workplace very well. You have that work hard mentality that cannot be created elsewhere.”
Michael Colvin: Quarterback, ’13
Colvin was regarded as a running threat in the backfield for his first three years as a Mountain Hawk.
During his senior season and only year as the starting quarterback, Colvin was named team captain and led the Mountain Hawks to a 10-1 record. He received a Second Team All-Patriot League selection and ranked nationally in the top 10 in total offense.
Lehigh went 4-0 against Lafayette during Colvin’s tenure. He was unable to compete in The Rivalry during his freshman campaign after he suffered a season-ending tibia and fibula fracture in his right leg. Although he was upset he couldn’t play in the game, he said he was able to celebrate the victory on the field with the rest of his teammates and fans.
In his senior year, Colvin was named the MVP of The Rivalry when Lehigh won 38-21. He rushed for a career-high 82 yards and a rushing touchdown, and threw for a career-high tying 362 yards and four touchdowns.
“One of my goals going to Lehigh was to win MVP of the Lehigh-Lafayette game, and to get to that point in the season as a senior was just awesome to share with (Coach Cohen) and the rest of the coaches,” Colvin said.
Since graduating in 2013, Colvin has gone on to pursue a career in New Jersey real estate as a leasing, property and construction manager. He started working with DTZ and now works for Hampshire Companies in Morristown, NJ. Colvin contributes to warehouse and multi-family complex building projects.
He will soon uproot to Syracuse to build a cube smart self storage facility.
Colvin credits his time at Lehigh and on the football team for teaching him how to win and lose, what it meant to be a leader and that every day presents new opportunities.
Ryan Spadola: Wide Receiver, ’13 insert pic from drive
Spadola started his Lehigh career on special teams, and also spent time in the wide receiver position.
During the three years that followed, Spadola was presented with three consecutive All-Patriot League selections and finished his career ranked second in school history in career receptions and receiving yards.
Spadola caught 78 passes for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns during his sophomore year, becoming Lehigh’s first 100-yard receiver since 2001.
As a junior, he set the Patriot League single season record with 1,614 receiving yards, while adding 96 receptions and 11 touchdowns. He also earned First Team recognitions from AFCA, Associated Press, Sports Network, Phil Steele and College Sporting News.
The culmination of his career consisted of 57 total passes for 851 yards and four touchdowns. In The Rivalry, Spadola recorded eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Spadola was 4-0 against Lafayette during his career and said he loved the feeling of having bragging rights over the Leopards.
“Some people look at Lafayette in different ways,” Spadola said. “We looked at them as just another team, but felt great to have bragging rights over them.”
Spadola spent a total of five seasons in the NFL. Shortly after he graduated in 2013, Spadola signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent and remained on their roster for the first half of the season. The Miami Dolphins picked him up for the second part of that year.
He has also been added to practice squads with the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions.
Spadola currently lives in Freehold, NJ, and works for Hoorn Construction Company and is looking forward to getting married in a few weeks.
He credits Lehigh for preparing him to overcome adversity and helping him create and achieve his goals in life.
Chris Hite: Linebacker, ’89
Hite not only played in the last Rivalry at Taylor Stadium, but was also named MVP. Lehigh beat Lafayette in the 123rd meeting.
Taylor Stadium — before it was removed from Lehigh’s campus — was one of the oldest college football stadiums and only the third concrete stadium in the United States.
During his tenure, home-field advantage proved to be a major factor in the outcomes of his four Rivalry games. The Mountain Hawks possessed a 2-2 record against Lafayette
During his senior year, Lehigh lost to Lafayette on the road and Hite suffered a knee injury.
“It was a tough memory,” Hite said. “The friendships you built with your teammates were strong and still are. It was a brotherhood being on the team where we worked very hard together. Having that part of my life come to an end with the injury and loss, was a sad day for me.”
After graduation, he returned to his hometown in Pittsburgh where he went to law school and business school. He moved to New York in 1995 and has been in investment banking for the last 24 years.
Hite started his banking career with Leaman Brothers in Wall Street, until it went bankrupt in 2008. He currently works at CitiBank as a vice chairman.
Hite said both Lehigh and the football program played major roles in shaping him into who he is today.
“It teaches you commitment, teamwork, common goal and enjoying the successes and disappointments as a team,” Hite said. “It suits you well in business, you need to work together to accomplish your goals. Those have been life lessons for me in the business world that are hard to replicate and that goes for any team your apart of.”
Steve Banco: Defensive Back/Punter, ’88
Like Hite, Steve Banco ‘88, also played in the final Rivalry at Taylor Stadium, which marked his final collegiate game.
During his junior year, Banco had three interceptions against Lafayette, which is still the record for a rivalry game.
The team had a 2-2 record against Lafayette during his four years, and Banco said the outcome determined the fate of the offseason.
“When you win, it’s a great offseason,” Banco said. “And when you lose, it’s a very long offseason.”
His career path has taken him all over since he graduated from Lehigh with a degree in finance. Banco spent one year working for the U.S. Senate in Washington DC. For the next two years, he worked for Sallie Mae, a student loan marketing association. Banco took courses in chemistry, biology and physics at night. He then went to Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia for medical school. He got his master’s degree four years later, but stayed another five years doing an orthopedic surgery residency. Banco then moved to Boston for a year, where he took on a fellowship in spinal surgery. He then moved back to his hometown in Wyomissing, PA, and built the Surgical Institute of Reading, a hospital with other doctors.
“Football prepares you for life in many aspects,” Banco said. “It makes you stronger as a person and what you learn on the field you can apply to life. Hard work can pay off wherever you are.”