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Merrimack at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 9/28/2019

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Merrimack at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction, 9/28/2019

It’s what we do every week: copiously go over the opposing game notes and analyze the upcoming game matchup.  I’m starting to call these the “football nerd” previews because it feels like the audience for these detailed team breakdowns are other football nerds like myself. 

For Lehigh fans, there is no greater need for a “football nerd”-level breakdown of an opponent than Merrimack.  Few opponents have been as big as an unknown to Mountain Hawk fans as the school that formed right after World War II in North Andover, Massachusetts.  Helping that sense of mystery is that the Merrimack Athletics’ website offers no football game notes, and when you click on the link called “Weekly Two-Deep”, you get a two-deep from 2018.

Merrimack, until recently a member of the Northeast-10 conference in Division II, announced they are going to join the NEC as a full Division I member in time for the 2023-2024 season.

“The College’s 2011 strategic plan, the Agenda for Distinction, called for Merrimack College to become a Division I institution to compete and excel at the highest level,” president Christopher E. Hopey said almost a year ago in announcing their move to the NEC. “We are pleased that our record of achievement and growth has resulted in this invitation to compete in the NEC and partner with its outstanding member institutions.”

“There’s no question we have the top tier players to be successful,” Warriors head coach Dan Curran said before the season started. “They’ve always been able to play with anyone.  What we need to do going forward is to develop more depth because injuries are going to happen. We’re not where we want to be but we’re getting there. We’re starting to see the gap between the starters and the backups get tight.”

They’ve certainly shown already that they’re not a team to be taken lightly. Besides their two overwhelming home wins against sub-Division I opponents, the Warriors led at St. Francis (PA) at halftime and took Central Connecticut State down to the wire, who came oh-so-close to upsetting FBS Eastern Michigan last week.

“Eight of our 11 opponents are Division 1 and this is by far the most competitive schedule we’ve ever had,” Curran said before the season. “We know what we’re getting into but we’ve shown we can play with the top teams and we’ll be ready.”

The Warriors head coach Dan Curran was a former University of New Hampshire fullback, who helmed the Wildcats under head coach Sean McDonnell and then-offensive coordinator Chip Kelly. His teammate was Walter Payton award-winner RB Jerry Azumah, who broke a multitude of I-AA rushing records and would later play cornerback for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.  After Azumah’s graduation, he ran for 1,000 yards in his own right his senior year and spent some time on NFL rosters professionally.

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