When the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (4-1) travel to Manhattan this Saturday, they will bring with them a high-powered offense led by senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis. He leads the Football Championship Subdivision with 804 total receiving yards this season and has firmly established himself as the Mountain Hawks’ go-to receiver.
“Lee is obviously a very big part of our success,” head coach Andy Coen said. “Lee runs great routes and has great change of direction and really has the ability to make some crazy one-handed catches.”
While Coen is quick to praise his star receiver, Kurfis is just as quick to credit the coaching staff for the Mountain Hawks’ success.
“Every week our coaches look at the game plan after evaluating our opponents and really find their tendencies and weak spots,” he said. “Our success comes from our coaches putting us in the right place to make plays, and us players executing the plays.”
Lehigh has amassed four wins this season in spectacular fashion, coming from behind in the second half of each game to pull off the victory. The Mountain Hawks suffered their only loss to No. 9 Fordham last Saturday. Still, Kurfis is not satisfied.
“I would say the first couple games were inconsistent. We won our first four, but really we were coming out in the first half of all those games and not playing as the team we should be playing as,” he said.
Kurfis holds himself to the same high expectations that he does for his teammates. Although his performance this year is generating record-breaking numbers, he is motivated by the success of the team as a whole, rather than by individual stats.
“I just want to be the best player I can be for myself and for this team. Whether that is catching 10 passes a game for 150 yards or just being a diversion and helping other guys get open too, those are really my main goals and focus points for this season,” he said.
Still, Kurfis’ numbers speak for themselves. He averages roughly 16 yards per reception and is senior quarterback Brandon Bialkowski’s favorite target. Their relationship off the field is a key factor in their success as teammates.
“He’s easily one of my best friends here and has been since we came in as freshmen,” Kurfis said. “Having a great relationship with Brandon has helped my success, his success, and ultimately the team’s success.”
Friendships aren’t the only aspect of Kurfis’ game that extend beyond the playing field. As a co-captain, the receiver exemplifies leadership in all areas of his college life.
“We have a leadership curriculum program here at Lehigh and all of our captains are involved with it,” Coen said. “Football is really the marquee sport for fall and our football captains are pretty visible among the rest of our student athletes. They do a good job setting a good example of how to handle themselves on an off the field. Lee has been a very good ambassador in that way.”
Come Saturday, the Lions will need to be prepared to face a team whose play reflects the hardworking intensity of its captain.