Behind the Mic

A Leopard CAN Change its Spots

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or
position of Astound or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I will preface this blog by saying that I never expected to write another one. I wrote what I thought
was my final rambling back on October 4, 2021. Since ATVN will broadcast Lafayette games again
this season, Astound management asked me to write a preview for the upcoming Lafayette football
season. I agreed to head back to the keyboard so here goes:

There’s a “not-so-new” leader in town

Lafayette has a new head football coach – John Troxell. But he is not new to the Lehigh Valley or to Lafayette. John played his high school football at nearby Phillipsburg and therefore played at Fisher Stadium in his final high school game against Thanksgiving rival, Easton. That game was the first televised high school game broadcast nationally by ESPN. John, the quarterback, led Phillipsburg to a last-minute win that day.

He stayed home and played college football at (you guessed it) Lafayette where he was the starting free safety and part of the 1992 championship team. He received the Unsung Hero Award his senior year.

After assistant coaching stints at Columbia, Muhlenberg, and Lafayette, John became the head coach at Franklin & Marshall where he won 92 games and was twice named Coach of the Year.

John Troxell has come full circle and has returned to his hometown to the Lafayette campus.

The Strengths

The Defense

Every starter on the Lafayette defense started at least one game last year and the first eleven is loaded with exceptional talent.

They will be led by Malik Hamm, selected as the preseason Patriot League Player of the Year. He has already garnered Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors. He will play some linebacker this season after spending a majority of his career as a defensive lineman.

His fellow linebacker, Marco Olivas, is an All-PL first-teamer and an All-PL selection for this year. Olivas and Hamm are two of the very best in the League.

Both will be surrounded by experience and quality. The defense will be the strength of the team.

The Offense

There is experience and depth at the skill positions. Ah-Shaun Davis returns at quarterback and freshman Ryan Schuster has looked very good in the preseason. The wide receiver group will be led by Julius Young and Joe Gillette, with Mason Gilbert at tight end. The running back position will be “by committee” with Jaden Sutton the leading candidate to get most of the work.

The Concerns

The Offensive Line

I have been doing Lafayette games for 20+ years and it seems every year the big question mark centers around the offensive line. This year is no exception. Only two starters return at center and left guard. A freshman and two sophomores complete the group. No group will determine Lafayette’s success more than this one.

The Schedule

Independent games in the Patriot League are almost always against opponents with huge numbers on their rosters and exceptional talent. This year is no exception. Lafayette will face Sacred Heart, Temple, William & Mary, Penn, and Princeton. The Leopards will be big underdogs in all of them.

This usually leads to some injuries to much-needed personnel and losses. It affects the morale and the healthy bodies available as they move into the Patriot League schedule.

The league looks strong with Lafayette opening against Bucknell on October 1.

ATVN will broadcast the following games: Sacred Heart (Sep.3), William & Mary (Sept. 17), Princeton (Oct. 8), Holy Cross (Oct. 15), Georgetown (Oct. 29), and the 158 th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh on November 20.

The Bottom Line

Lafayette has a new coach with new enthusiasm. The Patriot League games are most important with improvement expected as they wage battle during the independent schedule. It appears the Leopards will need to keep the score in the low teens if they are to win their share of games. With their defense, that is doable.

It’s a new year with a new coach. Mike Joseph, John Leone, Phil NG, and I can’t wait to bring you
the Leopards again this year.

Your invitation to join us always stands.