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Defense sets tone as Whitehall pulls away from Allendale in 2023 playoff opener

Division 4 top-ranked Vikings pass first test, advance to next week’s district final vs. Big Rapids.

Photos by Shayla Hardy | CatchMark

WHITEHALL — Whitehall’s defense has been dominant throughout the 2023 season, albeit a tad unheralded.

The Vikings’ contain unit stepped up again in Friday night’s playoff opener, long enough for the offense to get in gear.

Top-ranked Whitehall used a bend-but-don’t-break defense and opportunitistic offense to post a 28-7 victory over visiting Allendale in a Division 4 first-round playoff matchup in rain-soaked conditions.

Whitehall (10-0) advances to face Big Rapids (9-1) in next week’s district final at a site yet to be determined, although there was discussion about moving it to a field with synthetic turf.

Allendale closes its season with a 6-4 record.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Here are more details and notables from the game as well as highlight and reaction videos:

  • Allendale outgained Whitehall in total offense, 361-345. The Falcons ran 77 plays to 58 for the Vikings and the guests totaled 21 first downs to 15 for the hosts. Whitehall was 6-for-12 on third down and 2-for-3 on fourth down, while Allendale was 5-for-13 and 0-for-6, respectively.
  • Each team was penalized eight times: Whitehall for 80 yards and Allendale for 65 yards.
  • Whitehall junior Camden Thompson had a big night from his receiver spot. The 6-foot-5 Division I prospect scored on a 71-yard toss from senior Kyle Stratton in the first minute of the game. That was the lone score of the first half. Thompson made it 14-0 in the third quarter on his 26-yard touchdown reception from Stratton. Thompson finished with four catches for 111 yards.
  • Stratton was 7-of-12 passing for 128 yards with no interceptions. He also ran 14 times for 45 yards.
  • Whitehall senior Darnell Mack looked as strong as he has all season, rushing for a game-high 117 yards on 17 carries. His 33-yard TD run, which opened the scoring in the fourth quarter, was a picture of power and agility.
  • Whitehall senior Malcolm Earvin added 49 rushing yards on five attempts, including an impressive 23-yard TD run on a jet sweep in which he trucked an Allendale defender en route to the end zone.
  • Whitehall finished with 217 rushing yards compared to 175 for Allendale.
  • Whitehall senior Kyler Frees was 4-for-4 on PATs and his kickoffs were strong.
  • Whitehall played team defense and the stats bear that out. Stratton posted eight solo tackles and an assist from his cornerback spot. Thompson had six solos and three assists from his safety position. Senior safety Trannon Aylor had six solos, one assist, and an interception. Senior linebacker Trenton TenBrock notched four solos, five assists, and a tackle for loss. Senior cornerback Ca’Mar Ready had three solos and six assists. Senior defensive lineman Jason Smith totaled three solos, five assists, and two TFLs. Senior outside linebacker Everett Napier had two solos, nine assists, and a TFL. The list goes on and on.
  • Trailing 28-0, Allendale got on the board with 2:33 remaining in the game on senior Tyler Sparks’ 13-yard TD pass to junior Michael Hurlbutt.
  • Sparks finished 18-of-30 passing for 186 yards.
  • Allendale senior Nolan Spencer led his team with 69 rushing yards on 12 carries. Sparks added 50 yards on 12 carries.
  • This will be the second straight year Whitehall and Big Rapids are squaring off in the playoffs. Last year, Big Rapids played Whitehall tough early before the host Vikings pulled away for a 42-12 victory over the Cardinals in a Division 4 playoff opener.
  • Big Rapids advanced to the district finals with a 27-20 overtime victory at Spring Lake.

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

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Scott Wieman

    October 29, 2023 at 11:01 am

    Whitehall earned the right to host through the regional game. Last year the OV forfeit let South Christian over take Whitehall in points. Which allowed SC to host Whitehall. If they put it at Ferris with turf that would be totally wrong. Holton has turf but it needs replacing. If they move it I suggest Mona Shores or Fruitport. But I believe it should remain in Whitehall.

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