With a new season about to dawn, the Whitehall boys volleyball team is well positioned for a bright future as it looks to make another deep postseason run.
The Zephyrs made it to the district finals last season, losing to Emmaus in the championship game. That also earned them a state playoff berth, where they were eliminated by Penn Manor in the opening round.
They wound up 19-5 on the season, another winning campaign in a tenure marked by success under head coach George Cowitch.
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.
Steel, Royals win
Led by a strong offensive showing, Bethlehem Steel FC picked up its first victory of the season, defeating the Richmond Kickers, 4-1, in the club’s home opener at Goodman Stadium.
Playing on the campus of Lehigh University, Steel FC saw Philadelphia Union midfielders Derrick Jones and Eric Ayuk score first-half goals while forward Brandon Allen tallied a second-half brace in his Steel FC debut.
Last season taught the Whitehall baseball team that anything can happen once a team makes the postseason, and that’s always been the philosophy of manager Shaun O’Boyle as he prepares his squad for the upcoming season.
O’Boyle piloted the Zephyrs to their first state championship appearance last spring, and throughout a season in which they’d endured many ups and downs, he remained steadfast in his belief that all they needed to do was get into the playoffs
New IronPigs manager Gary Jones made his first visit to the Lehigh Valley recently, but it somehow felt somewhat familiar to him. Jones last served in baseball as the third base coach of the Chicago Cubs, managed by Joe Maddon. The Cubs manager may be the most famous resident of Hazleton and Jones said that his old boss talked often about his hometown and the Lehigh Valley.
“He often talked about being home and how much he loved this area,” said Jones. “He talked about the people, how beautiful the area was. You could tell he had a special spot for this area.”
Saturday, March 24, kicks off the Mentored Youth Trout Days whereby youngsters under age 16 can join a mentor (adult) with a valid fishing license and trout stamp to fish stocked waters within 18 southeastern regional counties before the opening of trout season. This opportunity gives the kids a chance to catch a trout before the crush of anglers on opening day, March 31 in 18 southeastern counties of Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York.
Playoffs? We’re talking about playoffs?
Yeah, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are talking about playoffs. After a shootout loss in Hartford Friday night, Lehigh Valley welcomed Providence to town Saturday night. The Bruins stand third in the Atlantic Division and would seem to have a pretty good grip on a playoff spot, but certainly don’t want to make any assumptions.
Lehigh senior Darian Cruz enjoyed the limelight of being a national champion last year, but got treated the harsh reality of competing in a tough weight class at last weekend’s NCAA Division-I wrestling championships.
Cruz took fifth at 125-pounds during the tournament held at Quicken Loan Arenas in Cleveland, finishing his Lehigh career with a 120-20 record.
After losing 2-0 to Rutgers’ Nick Suriano in the semifinals, Parkland graduate and Minnesota wrestler Ethan Lizak gave him his second loss of the tournament with a 5-2 defeat in the consolation semifinals.
When the Whitehall boys tennis team eventually gets on the court this year, they’ll be looking to build off their record-setting season that was forged by a number of returning players.
With talent and experience on their side, the Zephyrs are poised to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference this season.
New head coach Guillermo Valera takes over a program that finished at 13-5 overall last year. They’re also coming off a season where they charted new territory, making historic runs in both the league and district tournaments.
The Whitehall boys tennis team struck the right chords, make that strings, when they hosted East Stroudsburg South High School last Thursday to open the spring season.
The Zephyrs defeated the Cavaliers 6-0 to get the 2018 campaign off on a strong note. The encounter with the Cavs was supposed to be their third match of the season, but bad weather forced early cancellations.
Thursday wasn’t ideal, either, as gusty winds whipped across the court. However, it didn’t appear to faze the Whitehall players as they swept the season opener.