It hasn’t been the season Ali Barkley expected.
Heading into Friday’s game, the Zephyrs have a 0-5 record after their 49-26 loss to Freedom last week in a game that they battled back after a 42-0 deficit.
“We’re not playing to our potential,” said Barkley. “We just have to do what the right thing is to do.
“We have been in games, but we have been up and down in those games. We just haven’t been able to put it together.”
Heading into the second half last week, Whitehall had a 15-9 lead as well as momentum against Central Catholic as they appeared poised for its first win of the season.
Unfortunately, it didn’t hold up.
The Zephyrs suffered a safety on a high snap that went into the end zone and allowed a late score that sent them to a 16-15 defeat.
“We ended up losing at the end,” said Whitehall head coach Matt Senneca. “We didn’t stop them and we didn’t score.
“We went out and battled and did some positive things out there. Our kids played hard and that’s all we can really do.”
With a young team, Whitehall head cross country coach Mike Lelko didn’t mince his words about the state of his team.
“This is a rebuilding year for us,” said Lelko. “We have 20 freshmen out of the 38 boys runners on our roster.
“We expect them to get stronger as the year goes on. They already are gaining valuable experience and they should be improved at the end of the season.”
Sophomores Gavin Hagley and Sean Connolly have helped set the pace in the early going. Hagley was the boys’ top finisher in the 41st annual DeSales High School Invitational in a time of 19:11
Whitehall’s football season already may be at a crossroads.
The Zephyrs return home Friday night to host Emmaus in a key East Penn Conference (EPC) showdown for both teams. Whitehall (0-2) is looking for its first win of the season after they suffered a 46-28 loss at Easton last week.
Against Easton, Whitehall found itself in a 21-7 hole in the opening half as they struggled to stop Red Rovers’ running back Nahjee Adams, who scored on runs of 75 and 78 yards and rambled for 192 of his game-high 278 yards in the opening half.
Whitehall got a good preview of what its offensive potential could be in its 41-28 loss to East Stroudsburg South in its opener last week.
Senior Ali Barkley played his role as the team’s presumed workhorse with 127 yards on 23 carries and two rushing touchdowns, catching another TD for a trio.
But the Zephyrs will need to tighten the reins on defense, a problem area that plagued them last season. East Stroudsburg South’s Christian Arrington ran for 209 yards and scored three times on the ground.
With a good offseason and a new system in place, Whitehall is anxious to shake the rust from a 2-8 season last year.
The Zephyrs will get their first shot and have a true test when they host East Stroudsburg South for their opener Friday night.
New head coach Matt Senneca has increased the tempo in camp, and he was pleased with their first showing in a tri-scrimmage against Lehighton and Notre Dame.
While most summer basketball leagues have struggled or fallen by the wayside, the Stiles League continues to be a viable option.
The 10-team league, which plays on Mondays and Wednesdays, is winding down it season toward the beginning of its postseason July 24.
“We are doing well,” said league director Robbie Roberts, who is in sixth year at the helm. “Since I have been here, we have been as high as 11 (teams) and been as low as eight. We have been at 10 teams the last three years.
Whitehall senior Joe Herman had his share of highlights both on the football field and volleyball court this past season.
As a wide receiver, Herman was a main cog in the Zephyrs’ offense throughout the year. He also was a centerpiece for the boys’ volleyball program, as he captured MVP honors for the East Penn Conference and guided his team to league and District 11 titles.
Former Whitehall head football coach Brian Gilbert read the movements of the Giants’ Saquon Barkley who nearly rushed for 4,000 career yards as a Zephyr.
Gilbert also had a good read on Barkley when the rookie ran for a career-high 142 yards and scored three overall touchdowns in his team’s 38-35 victory over Tampa Bay at Met Life Stadium Sunday afternoon.
After a season in which they just missed districts, Whitehall’s boys’ soccer team will be looking to take the next step.
The Zephyrs finished the year with a 7-10-1 overall record and will graduate six seniors from their current allotment.
Their next transition will be about tightening their defensive play after they tallied the most goals in school history the past two seasons.
“We have been very good at scoring the past two years,” said head coach Chris Bastidas. “We have to defend better.