By Ron Rop

WHITEHALL – Whitehall football coach Tony Sigmon had a good feeling about Friday night’s game against archrival Montague

But no one, not even Sigmon, could have predicted what did happen in the annual “Battle for the Bell.”

The highly ranked Vikings dominated from start to finish and routed the visiting Wildcats 60-6 in front of a capacity crowd at Whitehall.

“What was exciting was the way they prepared all week long,” Sigmon said. “The way they came and focused on Thursday. The way they approached things at school today (Friday). All those things, as their football coach, was exciting because there are always a lot of distractions in a rivalry week and you can get pulled in different directions.”

As has been the case in all four games, junior quarterback Kyle Stratton stood out with his legs, his arm and his composure to keep plays alive and make big plays.

But it was a whole lot more than just Stratton.

The Viking defense stood tall all night long and other than one long pass play, the Wildcats struggled to sustain any offensive momentum.

Stratton accounted for five touchdowns, two rushing and three through the air.

With his legs, he rushed 11 times for 166 yards. His touchdown runs were 19 and 48 yards.

With his arm, he completed eight of 17 passes for 162 yards. His touchdown passes covered 32, 37 and 19 yards.

“We’ve got some dudes up front that blocked their butts off all night long,” Stratton said. “And that’s why we make all the plays that we do. Everything I can do is because of them.”

It started right off in the opening quarter when the Vikings scored four touchdowns. Stratton ran the first touchdown from 19 yards. It was followed by a 1-yard run by Nate Bolley, a 48-yard run by Stratton and a 32-yard pass from Stratton to Trannon Aylor.

“We were able to do that last week against Alpena,” Sigmon said of his team’s fast start. “The big thing is this is our first home game of the season so what does that look like, having a true home field advantage. But let’s face it, when you’re playing Montague, it’s really the White Lake community that comes here. I don’t know if there really is a home-field advantage in these games because everyone shows up.”

Whitehall led 27-0 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Stratton connected with Camden Thompson on a 37-yard touchdown pass. Whitehall’s defense got into the scoring column near the midpoint of the quarter when junior Everett Napier picked off a pass and ran 52 yards for a touchdown.

Montague’s lone score came in the latter stages of the first half when quarterback Chase Gowell found a streaking Owen Petersen down the left sideline and the senior wide receiver sprinted 58 yards to the end zone. The hosts led 40-6 at the half.

In the second half, Whitehall built the lead to 47-6 when Stratton hit Bolley for a 19-yard touchdown pass. 

Hard running Darnell Mack capped the scoring for Whitehall with touchdowns runs of 1 and 14 yards in the fourth quarter. The Vikings hit the 60-point mark when junior Abby Berman split the uprights for an extra point.

“We knew what they were capable of,” Wildcat coach Justin Dennert said. “We thought we had a good plan going in. It was a combination of us not executing and they have some really good players. Hats off to them, they are a great team. We just have to learn from it and move on.”

Montague’s defense produced one turnover when DaCarri Williams picked off a pass.

Whitehall’s defense had interceptions by Camden Thompson, Napier and Bolley.

Whitehall hosts Manistee next week while Montague travels to Ludington.