Junior defensive lineman Mikhari Sibblis goes in for a tackle in the game against Villanova on Sept. 4. The Mountainhawks ultimately lost 47-3 to Villanova. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh football prioritizing accountability this season

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In Lehigh football’s season opener against Villanova on Sept. 4, junior offensive lineman Brendon Passarelli got tangled up at the end of a play and was left lying on the field. 

From the sideline, senior captain Justin Gurth, who was sitting out due to an injury, rushed onto the field to help up his teammate. 

“Our culture has always been (about being) the first to help out your brother,” Gurth said.  “I did not even think twice about running out there.”

Lehigh lost 47-3, but Head Coach Tom Gilmore said the team appreciated being back at Goodman Stadium for a fall game day. 

Fifth-year linebacker Pete Haffner echoed Gilmore’s statement after only playing four games in the spring.

“When I was walking out to the field, a couple teammates joked, ‘Pete how does it feel walking out to the stadium for the 100th time?’” Haffner said. “It hit home when they said that because I’m really happy and proud to be a part of it for another season.” 

Haffner and other veteran players emphasized the importance of  accountability and instilling confidence in the underclassmen. 

With only 10 seniors, two of those being fifth-years, leadership is important as ever. 

“(Our seniors) are the hardest working and most invested in the program,” Haffner said. “They have provided great leadership (by) showing others the way and making sure they are focused.”

Gurth said that leading by example is another focal point for this season.

“All of us have to be the voice of reason and set the example,” he said. 

Though they are a young team—close to two-thirds of the roster played in their first preseason camp this summer—it does not deter them from their goal of winning a Patriot League Championship.

“Our team is young, but the more experience we get and the more guys continue to fight and give great effort on every play, will be something to watch in games to come,” Gurth said.

Next on the schedule for The Mountain Hawks is a game against Richmond on Sept. 11. 

“The potential is there,” Gilmore said. “It’s about taking care of the football and limiting mistakes. Consistency is only going to come with more repetitions.”

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