No. 21 to hang at WHS for ‘the rest of its existence’
During the Saquon Barkley Day celebration in Coplay, Whitehall Athletic Director Bob Hartman announced that no one will wear the maroon-and-gold No. 21 jersey at Zephyr Stadium after Barkley.
Ali Barkley, that is.
Saquon’s younger brother, a sophomore who also plays running back, currently wears No. 21 for the Whitehall football team. Hartman said that the school will retire the number after Ali is finished playing, with a ceremony whenever Saquon’s schedule permits.
“Whitehall-Coplay School District will be proud to retire jersey number 21 at the high school,” Hartman said. “That number 21 will hang at our football field and the field house for the rest of its existence.”
Barkley’s jersey will be the third to be retired by the Zephyrs, joining Super Bowl champions Matt Millen and Dan Koppen.
Barkley rushed for 3,646 yards and scored 63 touchdowns in three seasons at Whitehall. He was a two-time All-Lehigh Valley Conference selection and, following his senior season, was named First-Team All-State (AAAA) by Pennsylvania Football News and 2014 Mr. PA Football for Class AAA/AAAA.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Coplay March 24 to celebrate Barkley’s accomplishments at Whitehall and Penn State.
Brian Gilbert, Zephyr football coach, was one of many to offer high praise for his former running back.
“The lesson that everybody could learn is, ‘Don’t ever be told you can’t do something,’” Gilbert said. “Saquon Barkley is the perfect example of someone who’s going to set goals and achieve those goals.”
Former Whitehall quarterback Nick Shafnisky shared one of his favorite gridiron moments with Saquon.
In the Zephyrs’ 2012 game against Emmaus, Shafnisky and Barkley connected on a 42-yard Hail Mary. As teammates began to surround the then-sophomore running back in celebration, he ducked out of the huddle and dropped to the ground in search of his missing mouthpiece.
“All he cared about was finding his mouthpiece on the ground,” Shafnisky said.
Shafnisky will head to Montreal in May to compete for a spot on the Allouettes’ roster in the Canadian Football League. The former Lehigh University star attended training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, before suffering a hip injury.