By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Oakridge unleashed its playmakers Friday night, much to the delight of its large homecoming crowd.
The Eagles made many big plays en route to a 50-22 rout against previously unbeaten Whitehall in a showdown for first place in the West Michigan Conference.
Oakridge (6-1, 6-0) made a statement that the league title is secure with only a win next week at Mason County Central standing in the way.
It seemed like everybody was making big plays for the Eagles, even two-way lineman Kaleb Cook, who rambled 71 yards for a touchdown as a running back in the third quarter.
““That felt pretty good,” Cook said. “Our goal all year is to win a conference championship and we have a share of it. No knocks on Whitehall, they are still a very talented team and I still have a feeling they will do some things come weeks 10 and 11.”
But Week 7 was all Eagles:
* Sophomore quarterback Brady Luttrull completed 6-of-16 passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns.
* Junior running back Kolin Chahorski carried 18 times for 145 yards and two TDs, including an 81- yarder in the first quarter.
* Junior wide receiver James Cooper III caught three passes for 135 yards and two TDs, including a 60- yarder on Oakridge’s fourth play from scrimmage.
* Nate Wahr recorded a team-high 11 tackles and also caught three two-point conversion passes after TDs.
* And there was Cook, who showed his power and speed on his breakaway run.
“(The big plays were) huge momentum builders, especially for this type of game,” said Oakridge coach Cary Harger, whose team also qualified for the state playoffs with the win. “It was little bit of a slugfest early on and we were able to pull away from them.”
After a 14-14 standstill in the first quarter, Oakridge hit two big touchdown plays to build a 30-14 halftime lead.
The first big play came on third-and-25. Oakridge lined up in its power T-formation, but Chahorski busted loose through the middle and got open as Luttrull hit him for a 65-yard TD strike.
The second TD was a pass from Lutrull to his brother Brock Luttrull that covered 12 yards and capped an impressive 13-play, 93-yard drive.
That surge impressed Harger as the Eagles didn’t let Whitehall seize any momentum.
“Whitehall has great players on their team as well,” Harger said. “To get up 14, for them to tie it up, then for our kids to respond and keep their foot on the gas and pull away, it was just a tremendous effort.”
Whitehall’s two first-quarter touchdowns came on a 30-yard TD pass from Zarren Aylor to his twin brother Keenan Aylor, followed by Zarren Aylor’s 1-yard run.
Whitehall (6-1, 5-1) played the second half without Keenan Aylor, who was ejected late in the second quarter after getting two personal foul penalties and saying something to the official, according to Viking’ coach Tony Sigmon.
Aylor must sit out next week against Ravenna because of the ejection.
Oakridge put the game away by scoring on three of its first four possessions in the second half. Cooper caught a 59-yard TD pass from Brady Luttrull, Cook scored on his big run and Chahorski added a 1-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
“We always tell the kids it’s 0-0 at halftime,” Harger said. “We told them at halftime, every game in the conference we want to make a statement. We told them right before we came out, ‘We made a first half statement, now let’s finish that statement in the second half.’ And they did. They came out and made a great second-half statement.”
Whitehall’s lone score in the third quarter came on a 39-yard TD pass from Zarren Aylor to Jwan Britton.
It proved to be tough loss for Sigmon and his team. The Vikings had reeled off six straight wins, qualified for the playoffs and appeared ready to challenge Oakridge for the league title.
“Congratulations to Oakridge, that is a good football team we lost against,” Sigmon said. “They are good up front and they have some good skill positions. Their sophomore quarterback did exactly what he’s been doing all year long in the conference.
“Credit those guys. They had a good game plan and they broke some big plays on us. At times, we made the critical mistake.”
Oakridge dominated the statistics in first downs (19-10), rushing yards (305-152), passing yards (238- 118) and total yards (543-270).
Zarren Aylor completed 7-of-15 passes for 118 yards and two TDs and added 75 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Trip Thommen led Whitehall’s ground attack with 14 carries for 81 yards. Keenan Aylor had two receptions for 56 yards in the first half.
Tyler Thomas and Jordan Yeomans each had eight tackles for the Eagles, while Thomas and Jake Groendal each had a fumble recovery.