HERO Sports dedicates this Patriot League story to the late Andy Coen, whose life and career were integral to the conference. The longtime Lehigh head coach leaves a legacy of five PL championships won, but many more players’ lives touched. Known for his passion and care, HERO Sports remembers Coach Coen in this article and this season.
Over the years, the Patriot League has seen its share of back-to-back conference title runs. 2002-2003 Colgate, 2005-2006 Lafayette, and 2010-2011 Lehigh all enjoyed stretches of success, resting atop the league in consecutive seasons with at least a share of the PL crown.
What present-day Holy Cross has assembled, however, is unprecedented in the span covering those Colgate, Lafayette, and Lehigh teams. Holy Cross, after completing its three-peat of outright Patriot championships in fall 2021, is seeking a fourth ring in a row, which would give it an entire class’s worth of conference trophies. The Crusaders have an FCS playoff win under their belts after last season’s thrilling first-round defeat of Sacred Heart. They figure to return to their status as the Patriot League’s best chance at making national noise since 2018 Colgate’s playoff march.
What’s in store for 2022? Here’s a look ahead at the top returning players and our predicted order of finish.
Returning All-Conference Players
From last season’s All-Patriot Team
Holy Cross – 16: DB Devin Haskins (2nd team), DB John Smith (1st team), DL Dan Kuznetsov (1st team), K Derek Ng (1st team), LB Jacob Dobbs (1st team), LB Liam Anderson (1st team), OL Pat McMurtrie (2nd team), OL Luke Newman (1st team), OL Nick Olsofka (1st team), P Patrick Haughney (2nd team), QB Matthew Sluka (2nd team), RB Peter Oliver (1st team), RS Justin Shorter (2nd team), TE Sean Morris (2nd team), WR Ayir Asante (2nd team), WR Jalen Coker (2nd team)
Fordham – 7: LB James Conway (2nd team), OL Phil Saleh (1st team), QB Tim DeMorat (1st team), RB Trey Wilson III (1st team), WR Dequece Carter (1st team), WR MJ Wright (2nd team), WR Fotis Kokosioulis (1st team)
Lafayette – 7: DB DaRon Gilbert (2nd team), DL Malik Hamm (1st team), DL Ian Grayson (2nd team), FB Mason Gilbert (1st team), LB Marco Olivas (1st team), RB Jaden Sutton (2nd team), WR Julius Young (2nd team)
Lehigh – 3: DB TyGee Leach (1st team), DB LaTreil Wimberly (2nd team), DL Mikhari Sibblis (2nd team)
Georgetown – 3: DL Ibrahim Kamara (2nd team), OL Talati Polamalu (2nd team), WR Joshua Tomas (1st team)
Colgate – 1: DL K2 Dickens (2nd team)
Returning HERO Sports All-Americans
From last season
Holy Cross – 3: LB Jacob Dobbs (2nd team), WR Jalen Coker (Soph.), OL Luke Newman (Soph.)
Fordham – 1: LB James Conway (Fresh.)
Teams With The Most D1 Transfers
Georgetown – 2 (2 FBS)
Bucknell – 2 (2 FBS)
Fordham – 1 (1 FBS)
Lafayette – 1 (1 FBS)
Colgate – 1 (1 FBS)
Names To Know
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Luke Newman, Holy Cross OL — Don’t worry, the two-time Conference Offensive Player of the Year Tim DeMorat gets mentioned below. But how about some love for a dominant player up front? Newman, a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American listed by HC as 6-5 and 292 pounds, stars on an imposing Crusader offensive line. His combination of all-conference size and athleticism aids in anchoring a front that keeps plenty of plays alive for QB Matthew Sluka and his Patriot League-best receiving corps.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Ryan Greenhagen, Fordham LB — One of the biggest “What-ifs” of the fall 2021 season is, “What if Ryan Greenhagen were healthy all year for Fordham?” A magnet to the football, Greenhagen shattered a Division I record with 31 total tackles at FBS Nebraska en route to leading the NCAA in tackles per game when injured for the season after five games played. The Rams’ one-two punch of Greenhagen and Conway forms a feared tandem.
THE NFL PROSPECT: Tim DeMorat, Fordham QB — The two-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year is back in the saddle for Fordham. In fall 2021, DeMorat led the Patriot League and ranked seventh in the FCS in passing touchdowns (31) and ninth in passing yards per game (292.2). His accuracy and reliability, coupled with a prototypical 6-4, 220-pound frame, profile well for an NFL camp tryout down the line.
HERO Sports’ Predicted Order of Finish
1. Holy Cross
Holy Cross is the prohibitive favorite, as it returns double the All-Patriot League players whom second-place Fordham brings back when counting Greenhagen. HC coach Bob Chesney has his program chugging, so much so that his squad’s largest tests loom out of conference versus the Ivy League’s Yale and Harvard. Sandwiched by the Yale and Harvard games in the Crusader schedule is Holy Cross’s trip to Colgate. Colgate could be a sleeper and riser in 2022 under the steady hand of Stan Dakosty, the head coach who took over amid some tumult at the conclusion of Dan Hunt’s tenure. Dakosty has sophomore QB Michael Brescia at his disposal to guide a younger offense.
On the other side of the ball, Fordham’s law firm of Greenhagen and Conway is as fearsome as it gets; matched with DeMorat, the Rams should be perceived as Holy Cross’s most substantial threat. The Ram-Crusader Cup game is set for Oct. 29 in Worcester, Mass. It could decide the Patriot’s auto-bid.
Speaking of rivalries, Lafayette and Lehigh stack up as being pretty evenly matched in the middle of the conference. Lafayette is particularly strong on its starting defensive line keyed by Malik Hamm, while Lehigh’s all-League secondary figures to give its chronically sputtering offense more chances via takeaways. Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, Bucknell is seeking to recapture flashes it showed in its spring 2021 PL championship game appearance in what was a brief but competitive season for the Bison. The road back will take time as head coach Dave Cecchini retools his roster, paving the way for non-scholarship Georgetown to put together a year evading the cellar, giving teams some scares along the way as a traditional underdog.