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Zephs set for Solehi

Whitehall quarterback Trey Dogmanits realized his team got a wake-up call in their 34-10 victory over Pocono Mountain West in an opening-round PIAA District 11 Class 5A playoff game last Friday night. Dogmanits and his teammates admittedly had a slow start with a 14-10 halftime lead.

“Last week’s game was a little eye-opening,” said Dogmanits, who threw for 133 yards with two touchdowns. “I think we saw what happens when we come out not ready to play.

“We came put slow and went into the half with a 14-10 lead. The second half, we picked it up and scored 20 unanswered points. I think we that we need to want to play all the time.”

With the win, the Zephyrs will travel to Southern Lehigh Friday night to defend their district title. Southern Lehigh defeated East Stroudsburg South, 56-19, last week to advance to the title game. This will be a rematch of the last year’s title game in which the Zephyrs won 43-17.

Zephyrs’ head coach Andy Marino saw the victory as another major step, and also as another sign of the team’s grit and determination, notably with a first-year head coach. Whitehall began the season winning four of its first five then stumbled back to 4-4 before their current three-game winning streak.

“It was a great team win,” beamed Marino. “The season speaks volumes to our players about them as people. They have handled the changing of the staff extremely well.

“There really wasn’t a turning-point game for us, We just set out to improve very week.”

Senior running back Dalton Wickel, who ran for 133 yards with two touchdowns, saw a similar picture with Dogmanits.

“It was a hard-fought game,” he said. “In the first half, we didn’t play our best football. But in the second half, we turned it on offensively, and our defense helped put the game away.”

Against Southern Lehigh, the Zephyrs know they have their work cut out for them.

“The district games are what we have waited all year to play,” added Wickel. “We are excited to play Southern Lehigh. They are a good team with a good record. However, this isn’t the first time we have faced them, and we know what to do against them.”

Dogmanits echoed the sentiments of his teammate.

“As for Southern Lehigh, we cannot afford to come out slow,” he said. “We need to jump on them fast and not look back. If we can do that, we will be in good shape. We know that they are going to give us their best shot since we got the best of them last year.”

PREDICTION (Overall record 6-5): Whitehall has won the last three meetings between the two teams by scores of 43-17 (2022), 43-14 (2021), and 42-34 (2020) ... Southern Lehigh was 9-0 before its season-ending loss to Northwestern, 42-14. During their nine-game winning span, they averaged 48 points per game and allowed nine, pitching two shutouts ... The Spartans have been paced by quarterback Christopher Fritts, who has thrown for 1,295 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Running back Cade Sawyer has rushed for 1,295 yards with 25 rushing touchdowns, and wide receiver Andrew Olesh has 47 catches for 773 yards with nine touchdowns ... Whitehall is looking for its third district title in last five years, and Zephs finished 8-6 overall last year, their season ending in a loss to Imhotep Charter, who was the runner-up team in the state ... Zephyrs could have some trouble on the road here, and these two teams have had high scoring games in the past. Whitehall managed to keep Northampton and Pocono Mountain West in check while generating enough offense behind Dogmanits and Wickel ... Zephyrs O-line has really been the backbone of the team ... Game will be close and can go either way. However, I’ll stay with the Zephyrs’ hot hand, and boys’ basketball head coach Jeff Jones can pick me up some turkey and filling from the Whitehall Diner since it’s a championship game ... ZEPHYRS, 27-17.