Connect with us


Big plays, defense help Whitehall fend off scrappy Big Rapids in playoff opener

WHITEHALL — It wasn’t as easy as the final score may indicate, but Whitehall’s football team used big plays and stingy run defense to fend off a scrappy Big Rapids squad, 42-12, in a Division 4 first-round playoff game Friday night.

The Vikings improve to 10-0 and become the first team in Whitehall football history to reach double-digit wins in a season.

Whitehall advances to next Friday’s 7 p.m. district final at home against Fruitport (8-2), which defeated Ludington 54-28 in a first-round matchup.

Big Rapids, led by elusive and accurate senior quarterback Wil Strickler, closes the season with a 7-3 record.

Photos by Scott De, whoCamp | CatchMark

Here are notables and more details from the game:

  • Big Rapids outgained Whitehall in total offense, 323-319. That came on the strength of a fantastic performance by Strickler, who completed 25 of 35 passes for 327 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
  • Successful as Big Rapids was through the air, Whitehall controlled the line of scrimmage in the running game. The Vikings outgained the Cardinals on the ground, 190 to minus-4 yards.
  • Whitehall junior Trannon Aylor was not to be outdone. He turned both of his receptions into TDs, one for 49 yards and another for 42. He returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards for a TD, which gave the Vikings a 28-0 lead. Aylor also finished with four tackles.
Whitehall’s Trannon Aylor is pictured during 2022 West Michigan Conference Media Day Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the Viking Athletic Center in Whitehall, Mich. (Amy Yonkman | CatchMark)
  • Whitehall junior quarterback Kyle Stratton completed 6 of 11 passes for 129 yards and three TDs. His ability to extend plays with his feet led to a couple of those scoring passes, including an 11-yarder to junior Ca’Mar Ready early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. Stratton rushed 18 times for 50 yards.
  • Whitehall senior Jackson Cook led his team with 77 rushing yards on 11 carries with two TDs. He opened the scoring with a 2-yard run midway through the first quarter, then he made it 35-0 four minutes into the second half on a 19-yard run.
  • Whitehall senior Nate Bolley added 61 rushing yards on six carries.
  • Ready caught two passes for 32 yards and he notched 6.5 tackles from his cornerback spot for the Vikings.
  • Whitehall senior Jaiden Altgilbers paced his team defensively with eight tackles.
  • Whitehall junior Everett Napier made five tackles.
  • Whitehall senior Graycen Shepherd also made five tackles and he looked as active as he has all season. Shepherd missed last season with a knee injury and he’s been on the rebound. On Friday, he was flying around and making big hits.
  • Strickler completed passes to six different receivers. The top pass-catcher for Big Rapids was junior Riley Vennix, who had eight receptions for 126 yards and a TD. Sophomore Garret Foster made nine catches for 85 yards, while senior Zander Prince hauled in five passes for 80 yards. Junior Kaleb Dubowski caught a TD pass for the Cardinals.
  • Foster led Big Rapids defensively with 6.5 tackles, two for lost yardage. Senior Noah Brandt made six stops for the Cardinals, who shared the CSAA Gold Division title with Reed City and Howard City Tri County.


Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Football