WHITEHALL — Whitehall’s opening round victory over Shepherd pitted the Trojan’s high-flying pass attack against the run-dominant Mustangs.
The Trojan’s upcoming game will have them facing down an opposing offense much more similar to their own.
Whitehall, now toting an unblemished 10-0 record in the Class B playoff quarterfinals, will host the 6-3 Shelby Coyotes — who topped Bigfork 23-20 in the first round — on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a battle that promises to feature a wealth of aerial attacks – provided inclement weather doesn’t discourage the passing game.
“Shelby is a lot like us,” said Whitehall head coach Dan Lacey. “Both teams like to spread it out, that’s one of the strengths for both teams. They’ve got a lot of great skill guys and a lot of great guys up front.”
But with the forecast calling for a high chance of snow in Whitehall on Saturday and temperatures likely to dip into single digits — and perhaps even lower — Lacey knows that the Trojans’ strategy may need to be altered.
“Depending on how this weather shakes up it might play a role in field position and strategy,” said Lacey. “The conditions will play a factor in throwing the football.”
‘Throwing the football’ is the bread and butter of Whitehall’s offense. Quarterback Max Feight accounted for all four of the Trojan’s touchdowns against Shepherd, tossing scoring throws to three different receivers and gaining 270 yards.
Wyatt Alexander was Feight's primary target — and was often the case in the regular season — hauling in two touchdown passes.
With the weather unlikely to accommodate Whitehall’s preferred offensive style, the Trojans may need to lean on their running game and defense. Running back Sawyer Keener showed what he can do last Saturday as he churned out 103 yards on 18 carries.
“This game could have been a shootout but may come down to defense and how the offense handles situations with weather,” said Lacey. “Turnovers will play a factor.”
Whitehall managed to escape with the win over Shepherd after watching a 19-point lead dwindle down to just a one-point advantage after a scoreless third quarter from the Trojans enabled the Mustangs to find their rhythm and attempt to mount a comeback.
For Lacey, it came down to simple confidence.
“Sometimes in the third quarter we were doubting ourselves,” said Lacey. “We talked about it. We want to play to win, not play to lose. We were playing a little safer which spelled that little lull.”
Execution will be Whitehall's focus as the Coyotes roll into town.
"We need to continue to prepare the way we have and not underestimate the opponent," said Lacey. "We need to do everything in the film room and carry it to the field."