Four players to continue careers
Braxton Marrero decided that Lock Haven University would be the place where he would continue his football career.
Marrero echoed his fellow signees when it came down to his decision to play for the Bald Eagles in the fall.
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the campus,” said Marrero. “It really was a family atmosphere, and better than I’d seen anywhere else.”
Marrero said that the coaches took the time to show him around the campus and told him that they would be running the same type of offense that he’s been in for the last three years. That revelation struck a nerve with the talented back who has been extremely successful in Whitehall’s offense the last two years. Marrero gained 151 yards in their district title game against Southern Lehigh, and finished with 1,046 for the season.
Marrero joins a team that finished 2-9 overall last season, and were 2-5 within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference- East. The Bald Eagles are led by third-year head coach Dave Taynor. Marrero was one of 27 student-athletes comprising the incoming freshman class. He’ll be joined by fellow Eastern Pennsylvania Conference players Jacob Kanyuk and Christian Drayton, both of whom attended Bethlehem Catholic.
Marrero will be studying business while at Lock Haven. He said that his focus will be to keep his mind inside the classroom. Not only will that benefit him as he attends college, but it’s also a building block for the future.
As far as what he wants to achieve athletically, Marrero believes that he just needs to apply the same measures while a student at Whitehall.
“I want to keep building off what I’ve been able to do,” said Marrero.
He’s a versatile back who can run between the tackles as well as turn the corner for a big gain. He’s also adept in the passing game, hauling in 13 passes for 194 yards last season.
Marrero said that what he’ll take with him to Lock Haven is how perpetration and commitment can lead to success. He said that once the football season was through, the coaching staff would have them back in the weight room, keeping them focused and motivated to reach their potential.
“The goal was not to get complacent,” said Marrero.
As he reflected on his career, he said that being the first team in Whitehall school history to win a District XI 5A championship will always stand out in their long list of accomplishments on the gridiron. Additionally, winning back-to-back district championships was also ranked high on that list.
Dez Boykin will be traveling down the Pennsylvania Turnpike as he embarks on the next phase of his life as a student-athlete.
Villanova is the destination for the standout wide receiver who finished his illustrious career with school records in both receiving yards (3, 017) and catches (181). He was an EPC South First Team wide receiver selection last season, while also being named as the Special Teams Player of the Year. He also ranks second in all-time receiving yards in District 11 history, and was an all-state 5A selection this season at wide receiver.
Boykin joins a Villanova squad that finished 5-6 overall, and were 3-5 as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Wildcats will be heading into year two of the Mark Ferrante regime as the St. Lawrence graduate just completed his first season as the head coach.
Boykin, who was considering a number of offers, said that his decision to attend Villanova rested on that school’s academic reputation.
“That’s what’s going to determine your success in the future, your education,” said Boykin.
He’ll be studying business while at Villanova, and their small classroom size compared to other large schools was another huge selling point.
“They have a lot of small classrooms where you can get that one-on-one instruction with the teacher,” said Boykin. “It’s more personal.”
Additionally, Villanova’s proximity to his home in Coplay was another determining factor since he didn’t have to worry about his mother driving long distances to attend his games.
After December’s early signing period when the Division I schools he was leaning toward fulfilled their wide receiver spots with other recruits, Boykin didn’t let that bother him or prevent him form achieving his goals.
“The way I look at it, it was a blessing in disguise,” said Boykin. “I wasn’t meant to go there [to those schools].”
The Villanova and Whitehall football teams have a history. Former Zephyr head coach Tony Trisciani was on staff with the Wildcats for five years, leaving for Elon University in Phoenix, AZ in 2017. Also, former quarterback Chris Polony played for the Wildcats from 2011-14, playing in 18 games as the team’s signal caller.
Boykin said that he’s willing to fulfill any role that the Wildcats need and is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I want to make an impact as soon as I get there in any way possible,” said Boykin.
Boykin said that his role as a team leader last season will be a valuable asset when he arrives on campus. He’ll also carry with him the bonds formed from a tight-knit football community of players and coaches that surrounded him at Whitehall, an experience he’ll never forget.
He said that the 2016 state playoff game versus Abington Heights is probably what he’ll remember most fondly as he continues his career. Boykin said that it was an exciting game that had the crowd up and cheering, a palpable response that was felt on their sideline as well as everyone was completely invested in the action on the field. It was also head coach Brian Gilbert’s 100th win.
“That game was do or die,” said Boykin. “That was a big day for us, overall.”