Jan. 10, 2008
EASTON, Pa. -
Lafayette head football coach Frank Tavani signed a two-year contract extension that, when tacked on to his current contract, will take him through the 2014 season.
Tavani has taken the Leopards to three straight Patriot League Championships in his eight years as head coach (2004-2006), resulting in bids to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) playoffs.
Although Lafayette missed the postseason in 2007, the Leopards finished second in the Patriot League and punctuated a 7-4 season with a 21-17 win over Lehigh in the 143rd meeting of college football's Most-Played Rivalry. The Leopards have won four straight over the Mountain Hawks for the first time since the class of 1950 accomplished this feat. Lafayette has posted 29 victories in the last four years for the first time since 1923-1926.
"This is another step toward achieving a personal goal," Tavani said. "When I took the job in December of 1999, I said that I intended to take this program to a championship level and that one day I hoped to retire as the head football coach at Lafayette. I'm thankful to the college administration for the opportunity to continue to work toward that goal."
The Leopards featured a strong defense in 2007, giving up just 260 yards offensive yards per game to finish first in the nation. The team also finished fourth in rushing defense (85 yards per game), eighth in scoring defense (17 points per game), and 20th in passing defense (175.2 yards per game). The team will look to remain strong in 2008 with six starters and at least four others who saw significant playing time returning.
Much of Tavani's success comes from his ability to recruit athletically and academically talented student-athletes. Lafayette had 12 players named to All-Patriot League teams in 2007, with junior linebacker Andy Romans winning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Senior left tackle Jesse Padilla has been given All-American status by the American Football Coaches Association and the Associated Press, making him the second player in that position to be given the honor in as many years.
Three of the last four Patriot League Scholar Athletes of the Year were Leopards and the Lafayette football program boasts a league-best 23 Academic All-District honors during Tavani's tenure.
The Tavani era in Lafayette football officially began on Dec. 11, 1999, when he was named the 27th head football coach in the history of the program.
Tavani had been a top member of the college's football coaching staff for 13 years prior to taking over at the helm of the program. During that time, he primarily mentored the offense, but had been an integral component of all aspects of the Leopards' gridiron program.