Lehigh Valley Steelhawks



Years of Existence: 2013-
Venue: Stabler Arena, PP&L Center (Bethlehem, PA)
Accomplishments
2013 Playoff appearance
2014 - Championship game appearance
2015 - Playoff appearance
Lifetime Record: 20-19
Home: 12-6
Away: 8-13
Playoffs: 1-3
Average Attendance: 3,115

The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks joined the PIFL after leaving the IFL. Adam Bednarik stayed with the team at quarterback, throwing for 2,837 yards, 53 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. Tom Gilson snagged 19 scoring passes and racked up 946 yards, while Torieal Gibson was the team's 1,000 yard receiver with 17 scores. The team compiled a 7-5 regular season record, going 2-4 in games against playoff-bound opponents. Both of those wins came against Albany by a combined six points late in the year. The five losses came by a combined 27 points, including a 29-28 opening night loss to Alabama. With 25 seconds left in regulation, the Steelhawks failed on a two-point conversion try. Alabama would score on a ten yard pass as regulation time expired. A similar outcome occurred in Bethlehem when the teams met up again, as Lehigh failed on a two-point conversion as time expired. The Hammers won a wild one, 79-77. In wins against Albany, the Steelhawks hit a 31 yard field goal as time expired and scored a touchdown with twelve seconds left to secure victories. The team qualified for the playoffs and would travel to Richmond to face a team they had yet to beat during the season. Richmond took 62-51 and 66-64 victories within three weeks during the regular season and would take a 44-40 decision in the third and final meeting of the year to advance to the PIFL title game. Bednarik led the team once again in 2014, throwing for 1,552 yards, 26 touchdowns and ten picks. He only played nine of the regular season games, however. Shane McSweeney tossed 16 scores and six picks of his own. Brandon Renford led all receivers with 567 yards and 13 scores. Dwayne Hollis had an outstanding season with nine interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. Lehigh opened the year with four straight wins by a combined 21 points. However, they followed that up with five consecutive losses before an overtime victory against Georgia. A de facto playoff game came in the final regular season match against Richmond. Lehigh took a 51-41 victory from the Raiders and earned a berth and a third crack at Trenton. Like the previous two meetings, the Steelhawks came away with a victory and went to the PIFL title game. Unfortunately, another team from the south would be their demise, as Nashville claimed a 64-43 victory.In the game, McSweeney threw three scores but was picked twice. The team moved into the brand new PP&L Center for the 2015 season and attendance roughly doubled. With Shane McSweeney at the helm, the Steelhawks got out to a 5-1 start to the season. One win came in an exhibition game against Marion. However, Lehigh stumbled down the stretch, winning just one of its final five and ultimately missing the playoffs with a 5-5 league record. McSweeney passed for 1,731 yards, 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also ran for 17 scores. His top receiver was Brandon Bedford, who caught 16 of those scores. The Steelhawk secondary had an incredible year, picking off 29 passes. Joe Powell got eleven and Jesse Cooper snagged seven. Cooper returned five of his for scores. The Steelhawks were still alive for a playoff berth in their final game, but a late Alabama score gave the Hammers a 41-39 victory. However, with Trenton's loss in the final week of the season, Lehigh actually did get a berht into the playoffs and played at top seeded Columbus. A missed opportunity to score at the end of the first half and cut a Columbus lead to seven seemed to seal the deal in a runaway 69-41 Lions victory.