Zephs knock off Delaware Valley
The Whitehall Zephyrs made the most of their 2022 PIAA State playoff debut with a 34-13 victory over District 2’s Delaware Valley last Friday night at Whitehall.
“Anytime you’re playing when it’s this cold and you’re practicing after daylight saving time, you know you’re playing for something important,” said Whitehall head coach Matt Senneca.
The Class 5A clash was a close one for the first 24 minutes, and Delaware Valley had a 13-10 lead at halftime.
“They play hard-nosed football and don’t give up, and that’s always a challenge for us,” said Zephyr running back Nigel Linton. “We had some setbacks in the first half that messed us up a little bit, so we came out in the second half and played very well. Every position group made sure they fixed their mistakes.”
Delaware Valley running back Paulie Weinrich had 21 carries for 118 yards in the first half, but Whitehall’s defense kept Weinrich and the rest of the Warriors in check thereafter.
“We knew he was gonna be a challenge,” said Coach Senneca. “He’s a big kid, he runs hard, they’re big up front, but I thought we did a heck of a job in the second half, and our defense played really well.”
Whitehall’s first possession of the third quarter took back the lead with a touchdown by quarterback Trey Dogmanits (177 passing yards) after a pass to Braden Bashore for 50 yards and a 33-yard carry by Linton.
Whitehall’s next drive started with a 50-yard punt return by wide receiver Aiden Parvel that put the Zephyrs on the Warriors’ 21-yard line.
“It all just happened quickly. I was shocked when it happened. I broke that one tackle, and then I was just running,” Parvel said. “It felt great because we needed something to get our energy up, and then that happened, and then we had a good offensive drive, we started scoring, we started stopping on defense, and it got us all going. Having this on our home field, one last time, and to get a win, it’s very big, very very big.”
On fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line, Whitehall opted for a field goal, and kicker Andrew Deutsch made it 20-13 to start the fourth quarter.
“We were going back and forth,” Senneca said. “We thought our defense was playing well up to that point, so we kick the field goal and go up seven on them. If they go down and score, all they do is tie it up. We didn’t want to waste points on that drive, so we decided to kick it and take the points.”
Deutsch was happy to do his part.
“You definitely feel more pressure because this is my first time in a state playoff ever, so it definitely went through my head that it’s business, and we have to put as many points on the board as we can,” Deutsch said. “I’m ready to go out there whenever they need me and help us win the game.”
Linton gave the Zephyrs some breathing room with his 52-yard run for a Whitehall touchdown with 4:56 left in the game, and after Carter Troxell intercepted Warrior quarterback Tyler Bird, Linton added six more points on a five-yard carry.
“...Like Nigel always does,” said Senneca. “Nigel’s a special kid. You put it in his hands anytime, and he’s a threat to go.”
Linton also scored the Zephyrs’ first touchdown after Dogmanits’ pass to Jack Kocher for a gain of 30 yards and a first-and-goal from the nine-yard line.
“My linemen did a helluva job, and I probably wouldn’t have scored without them,” Linton said. “This is a different feel, different playing field, different weather. It was fun to play in, and I love this atmosphere.”
Delaware Valley’s fourth-quarter possessions included a sack by Whitehall’s Joseph Hahn, Troxell’s interception, and a kickoff recovered by Whitehall to end the game.
The Zephyrs now advance to a PIAA State Class 5A quarterfinal this Saturday when they will take on District 12’s Imhotep Charter at 1 p.m. at the Germantown Supersite in Philadelphia.