NORTH MUSKEGON — North Muskegon opened up a 34-0 lead at halftime and never looked back in posting a convincing 41-6 victory over Mason County Central in the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division opener for both teams Friday night.

The game was played at North Muskegon.

“We really put together a very balanced attack tonight,” said North Muskegon coach Larry Witham. “Denny Belmonte was very effective, both as a runner and a pass receiver.

“It was really great to see Denny play such a complete game on both offense and defense. He is one of our hardest workers.”

The Norsemen had a 12-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

James Young scored the first touchdown through the air, hitting TJ Byard for a 7-yard strike with 5:50 left in the opening stanza. The pass for the 2-point conversion failed.

Another touchdown pass, this one from Young to Byard for 55  yards, extended the North Muskegon lead to 12-0 with 2:09 left in the first period.

The Norsemen stayed with the passing game for their next score, with Young hooking up with Belmonte for a 13-yard TD to increase their lead to 18-0 with 10:09 left in the second.

Belmonte broke the string of touchdown passes with a 15-yard touchdown run with 2:26 to play in the half, and this time Young hit Carsen Moat for the 2-point conversion to make it a 26-0 lead at the 2:26 mark.

North Muskegon scored again with only 1:32 left on a 54-yard catch and run from Young to Newille. Moat caught the 2-point conversion pass to make it 34-0 at half.

Belmonte closed the scoring for the Norsemen with a 65-yard scamper. Owen Boothe kicked the extra point and the lead reached 41-0.

Belmonte rushed for 134 yards on 10 carries for an impressive 13.4-yard average with 2 TDs. Young had 22 yards on 5 attempts and Newille added 16 yards on 2 carries.

Young finished 11-of-19 passing for 169 yards and 4 TDs. Byard had three receptions for 70 yards and a pair of TDs. Newille caught two passes for 68 yards and a TD.

“James Young had another solid night throwing the ball, and running the offense,” said Witham. “MCC is very aggressive with their blitz packages, and while they did get to us at times, we took advantage of their aggression and hit some deep balls for touchdowns.

“Defensively, our coaching staff put together a great game plan, and the kids executed it to perfection. We knew they liked to get outside, and we really shut down the edge and forced them to try to run inside and throw it. Kyle Huff, Sam Gallo, Ben Meyers, Brandon Rypstra and Denny really had phenomenal nights containing their running game.”

Sam Gallo led the Norsemen defense with 12 tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Kyle Huff had 11 tackles, Eli Rudicil 7 and Drew Bartos 6. Belmonte, Layne Brady and Rypstra each had a tackle for loss.

Will Chye was 4-of-5 passing for 109 yards and one TD for the Spartans.

Peyton Merz led the Spartans with 64 yards rushing on 20 carries and Riley McLouth gained 16 on 8 attempts.

Chye and Merz paced the defense with 4 tackles apiece.

North Muskegon improves its record to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The Norsemen play at Hesperia on Friday, Sept. 16.

Mason County Central fell to 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the conference. The Spartans are at Holton on Friday, Sept. 16.