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Zephyrs knock off Southern Lehigh

The Whitehall Zephyrs used last year’s silver medals to all but guarantee this year’s gold and clinched the District XI Class 4A championship with a 43-17 victory over Southern Lehigh last Saturday night at Catasauqua Middle School’s Alumni Field.

“Last year didn’t go well for us,” said Whitehall wide receiver Braden Bashore. “We put the silver medals in the weight room, and we looked at those for 12 months. We got back here, it was a great team effort, and we got the job done.”

The Zephyrs meant business, scoring two touchdowns within the first two minutes, and shutting out the Spartans in the second half.

“Their determination and their motivation- I think that’s carried through all year,” said Whitehall head coach Matt Senneca. “People kinda counted them out, and they didn’t believe that, didn’t buy into it, and they came out and proved people wrong.”

On the first play of the night, Whitehall running back Nigel Linton went 80 yards on a pass from quarterback Trey Dogmanits for a Zephyr touchdown, and then went 30 yards on a pass for the Zephyrs’ second touchdown.

“Nigel’s Nigel, and any time you put the ball in his hands, he has the chance to score. We thought we’d get an advantage on that first play, and we certainly did,” Senneca said. “The complement to him is the passing game, and Trey distributed the ball to the guys that we had, and we blocked well on the perimeter. It was just an all-around great effort on offense.”

Then, on a fourth-and-5, Dogmanits found Bashore in the end zone for the Zephyrs’ third touchdown, also in the first quarter.

“The ball was in the air, and it was like slow motion for me,” Bashore said. “It was a great ball, right there, a great fourth down.”

Andrew Deutsch’s PATs made the score 21-7, but Southern Lehigh’s touchdown at the start of the second quarter turned it into a one-score ball game.

“We thought they were gonna run the ball hard, and they decided to pass, so we had to change it up at halftime, and it showed because we shut them out in the second half,” said Whitehall defensive lineman Kaden Weaver. “It worked out for us.”

Southern Lehigh quarterback Christopher Fritts had a pass knocked down in the end zone by Bashore, and the Spartans settled for a field goal.

“He wasn’t originally my guy,” Bashore said. “I was just there, and I was reading the quarterback’s eyes, and I was just in the right place.”

Bashore had 105 receiving yards, and Linton had 110 receiving yards in addition to 90 yards rushing.

“We just got the ball to Nigel quick, and he made plays, broke tackles, and was able to get in the end zone. Nigel opened up a lot for us, and he was great,” said Dogmanits, who had 275 passing yards. “Nigel takes it to the house right away, and then they fumble on a kick return and we get the ball on the 20 and score right away. I didn’t see it coming, but that just feels nice.”

Dogmanits’ 31-yard pass to Jack Kocher was the last touchdown of the night.

“We talked about not letting what happened last year happen again this year,” said Dogmanits. “We had to finish the game and not hand it to the other team.”

After the Zephyrs received this year’s gold medals, they were presented the District XI championship trophy.

This Friday, Whitehall will enter the PIAA State football tournament and host District 2’s Delaware Valley at 7 p.m.

“It feels great and proves that all the hard work means something,” said Senneca. “It’s worth it, so we’re really happy.”

Press photos by Nancy Scholz The Whitehall football team poses after taking home the District 11 5A title this past weekend, beating Southern Lehigh.
Press photos by Nancy Scholz Members of the Whitehall football team raise the District 11 trophy following last week's game. The Zephs defeated Southern Lehigh in the finals.