Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018

WHS offensive line continues to impress

Thursday, July 27, 2017 by steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

Whitehall’s offensive line was in hog heaven recently, claiming another title as they prepare for the upcoming season.

They have now won consecutive titles at the Battle of the Hogs at Lansdale Catholic High School. They even accomplished this feat without two projected starters.

Head coach Brian Gilbert said that both Markes Cruz and Mike Smith were absent for the competition that features local high schools’ offensive linemen competing against one another in various events. That left the remaining members to carry on the tradition as Jacob Hudak, Ian Kulp, Bret Legath and Justin Santiago claimed another Hog title in 2017.

Gilbert said that they competed in the tire flip, the wheelbarrow race, bus push, dumbbell relay and the bench press. Some of those events mirror what they do at the World’s Strongest Zephyr contest that ends their school year.

The offensive line will once again serve as the backbone of this year’s team. Last year that unit helped quarterback Zach Gilbert establish a new single-season passing record at Whitehall, and were instrumental in the team winning a district title. Only Tyler Myers departs from that O-line, giving them a lot of experience across the front.

That line was also helpful in making them tops in a local powerlifting event, the Blue Bomber Football Invitational Weightlifting Competition at Palmerton High School. They won the team title with 44 points.

They also competed in several passing camps during the summer. Last year when they traveled to Penn State for the annual Lion Strong 7-on-7 Passing Camp, they won the event. This year they were able to finish among the top eight, said Gilbert. They rose through the ranks as 56 teams descended on Happy Valley to finish in the top ten.

They also competed in the Rutgers 7-on-7 Passing Camp as well as the Lehigh camp. Gilbert said that they won the Rutgers camp which was held on June 24, while finishing second to La Salle College High School at Lehigh.

Since they have such a stout offensive line, Gilbert said that he believed the summer was where they would begin to establish their running game.

“I thought a lot of our focus was going to be on the run,” said Gilbert. “I’m pleased we’ve been able to run the ball.”

Gilbert said that defense remains the one area where they’ll have to fill a lot of holes. He said that both Joel Henninger and Roberto Rivera have stepped up and made an impact this summer.

“I’m happy with a lot of guys the way they’ve stepped up in those roles this summer,” said Gilbert.

He said that their linebacking corps will basically be all new as Hudak slips inside, while the remaining spots are still going to shake out as the summer practices progress.

They have a lot of spots to fill throughout their roster, but Gilbert was encouraged with their progress this summer.

“We’ve had a very productive off-season,” said Gilbert.

Once again, Whitehall will be holding its summer youth football camp. It’s open to all students from second through eighth grades. The camp runs from July 31 through August 3. Gilbert said that they’ll be doing two days of offensive drills and two days of defensive drills, and anyone who is interested in attending should contact him.