Sister would have been proud of Bok’s Whitney

Posted: September 07, 2012

By Ted Silary

Daily News Staff Writer

For a guy who'd emerged as a prominent hero in a stirring football victory, Antoine Whitney looked rather stoic.

In time, the reason became abundantly clear.

"I used to be one of those guys who was always smiling," Whitney said. "A guy who felt that everything was good.

"Not too much anymore. I'm never really too happy. It's easy to get me agitated. I get into arguments. Talk back to people. It's like I have an attitude about everything. I'm still so mad."

Friday, as Edward Bok Tech topped Overbrook, 22-14, in overtime, in a Public AAA contest at the South Philly Super Site, the 5-9, 145-pound Whitney made several gigantic plays. However, the name on the back of his jersey read "Jackson" and the number was 35.

At first, it appeared the jersey issue would be something to laugh about. But then . . . 

"I'm not happy at all not being able to wear No. 13," Whitney said. "My sister always wore that number, and I've stuck with it out of respect and love.

"Our jerseys for this year haven't come in yet. Some guy named Jackson wore this one last year. It was the only one left. My old jersey? Not sure what happened. My girlfriend had it after our last game (in 2011) and somehow it got lost."

No. 13 was first worn in the Whitney family by Antoine's sister, Nyesha. She graduated from Bok in 2004, starred in basketball and later did likewise at the Community College of Philadelphia. In June 2009, she was slain at age 23 as the result of what police called a family-feud situation, shortly after giving birth and 2-plus months before Antoine enrolled at Bok.

"She taught me everything I know about sports," Antoine said. "She could do everything. Basketball, baseball, even [street] football. The whole time I'm out here, I'm playing for her."

Nyesha would have gone wild watching Antoine rip off a 50-yard gain on a punt return in the second quarter. He came oh so close to a 90-yard touchdown, but was barely tripped up.

With 3:05 left in the fourth quarter, Big Sis' response would have been even more outrageous.

Bok was facing a 14-8 deficit. On first-and-10, Whitney zipped down the left sideline, gathered in a pass from Michael Riley and raced into the north end zone for a 53-yard score.

Oh, did we mention that there was double coverage? And that one of the defenders draped himself all over Whitney shortly before the ball arrived, drawing a penalty that, of course, became meaningless?

"I knew I was going to catch that one," Whitney said. "All my quarterback had to do was get the ball in the air. I saw the flag a little bit before I caught the ball. I was gonna stop running, but I said to myself, 'Maybe I can still go get this.' That's what I did."

The conversion attempt featured a rushing attempt by fullback Terrell Miles, who was stopped by standout end Naquan McIntosh. There was no late-regulation nail-biting.

In the OT, played at the north end, Bok went first and faced second-and-goal from the 20 after a holding call. Again, Whitney found a way to contribute. He was mugged in the end zone and an interference flag placed the ball on the 10.

After Larry Pelzer was dropped for a 2-yard loss by McIntosh and cornerback Ronald Riddick, a big-time hitter despite his build (5-8, 150), tight end Dylan Edmonds-Carty took a dump pass to the 1. Riley then burrowed into the end zone, and Edmonds-Carty reeled in the two-pointer. Overbrook's third play, from the 2, resulted in a fumble and, following a mad scramble, Riley came out with the ball. The Wildcats at first rejoiced with gusto, but the mood then turned somber as lineman Marcus Owens suffered an asthma attack. He turned out to be fine, and the teams exchanged midfield handshakes.

Whitney, who lives on 53rd near Chester in Southwest Philly, finished with four catches for 98 yards and six touches for 166, including the 50-yard punt return and an 18-yard burst with a kickoff.

Of his punt return, he said: "I'm back there to return them, so that's what I'm doing. I'm not looking to make fair catches."

With a great block from fullback Vittorio "Vito" Goggins, also a force at DE, Ron Anderson used a dive to score the game's first TD, a 4-yarder. 'Brook went ahead with two 51-yard scores in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the third quarter - Marice Tillman's fumble return and a pass from Yvon "Buddy" Dessus (former Bok player) to Riddick.

Linebacker Marquez Walker and down lineman Mark Webb also were crucial to Bok's defense.

In 2009, shortly after Nyesha Whitney was killed, Ollie Johnson, a former NBA player and CCP's athletic director, said of her: "She had this smile that made you feel at ease. In fact, her order from me was to stop by my office every day . . . so I could smile and feel good about myself."

Antoine Whitney can relate. He used to have that, too.

Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com. High school coverage online at www.philly.com/rally

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