By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
The West Michigan Conference looks like it could be up for grabs this season and Week 3 presents a power matchup between Whitehall and North Muskegon.
Whitehall raised some eyebrows with its 33-0 drubbing of Shelby last week and an easy win over Kelloggsville in Week 1. North Muskegon also is rolling with a 2-0 start after convincing wins over Holton and Hart.
But this week will be a great test for both schools. Whitehall brings the combination of a solid ground and air attack with running back Trip Thommen, and twin brothers Zarren (quarterback) and Keenan Aylor (wide receiver). Another notable for the Vikings is Nolan Throne, who caught a 39-yard TD strike and had a 53-yard kickoff return last week.
North Muskegon will use its dual back option of Vernonell Smith and Logan Waller. The pair combined for nearly 300 yards rushing in Week 1 against Holton.
Both coaches know what’s at stake on Friday night, and that’s a 3-0 record to boost their players’ confidence. But North Muskegon coach Mike Belmonte believes the game will come down to who makes the big plays.
“If we can limit their big plays, we’ll have a shot,” said Belmonte. “I don’t think this will be a grinding out game. The big plays will be key.”
For Whitehall coach Tony Sigmon, running the option will be a deciding factor.
“A lot of kids are touching the ball right now,” said Sigmon. “But if we have to lock in on one kid, it makes our job a lot tougher.”
Historically, this has been a pretty even matchup with the Norse winning five times out of the last 10 years and four out of the last five. To Belmonte that doesn’t mean anything.
“What has happened in the past will not affect what we will do this week,” said Belmonte. “Us winning has to do with just getting ready and knowing our assignments. We take it one game at a time.”
Both teams enter Friday with good health but perhaps North Muskegon has a bone of confidence as it gains all conference defensive back Mitchell Edick and running back Andrew Shafer.
Motivating Whitehall is its 2-0 start.
“When you have a strong start, anything is possible,” said Sigmon, whose team won just one game last year. “We’ve played two solid games with Kelloggsville and Shelby. But it’s a huge game for both of us.
“In my opinion, we have different styles but the teams are very comparable when it comes to matching athletes as well as offensive and defensive lines,” said Sigmon. “Our team is in uncharted territory from last year to this year. But handling success and failure is no different. You have to handle it well. Last week is over and you have to move on to next week.”
At stake for the Norse and Vikings is a 3-0 start and an all important WMC win. This game is a toss up and attractive to area fans heading to Whitehall on Friday night.