Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
JENISON — Kyle Stratton had a hand in five touchdowns and the Whitehall defense flexed for a second-half shutout en route to the Vikings’ 54-26 season-opening victory over Hudsonville Unity Christian Thursday night at McKenzie Stadium.
Stratton, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior, tossed three TDs to classmate Trannon Aylor in addition to rushing for a score and capping his performance with a pick-6 as the Vikings pulled away from last year’s Division 4 state runners-up.
Here are details and notables from the game:
- Stratton, who was a first-team All-West Michigan Conference quarterback last year as a sophomore, finished 7-of-12 passing for 222 yards with the three TDs and two interceptions. He connected with Aylor on scoring strikes covering 60, 31 and 57 yards.
- Stratton also ran 11 times for 101 yards, including a 51-yard TD gallop midway through the third quarter to kick off the second-half onslaught.
- Stratton capped his night with an interception return for a TD. By scoring on offense and defense, doing so in different ways, he did his best Brady Rose impersonation. Rose was the smallish QB and safety who led Mona Shores to back-to-back state titles and won the MLive Player of the Year award.
- Aylor, who finished second in the 400 meters and ran a leg on Whitehall’s state title-winning 4×200 relay at last spring’s Division 2 track finals, hauled in four passes for 154 yards for an average of 38.5 yards per reception.
- Whitehall senior Nate Bolley did not get in the end zone, but he did lead the Vikings in rushing yards with 110 on only seven carries. Bolley also notched seven tackles from his defensive back spot.
- Whitehall senior linebacker Jackson Cook led the defensive charge with 10 1/2 tackles. He also scored on a 5-yard run to put the finishing touches on the victory with 5:29 left.
- Whitehall senior Graycen Shepherd, in his first game back after missing his entire junior season with a knee injury, recorded 8 1/2 tackles with 1 1/2 stops for loss.
- Whitehall outscored Unity Christian 27-0 in the second half after holding a slim 27-26 lead at the break.
- Whitehall outgained Unity Christian in total offense, 565-402, despite the Crusaders holding an edge in time of possession, 23:47-21:22.
- Whitehall was penalized only two times for 15 yards.
- Whitehall hits the road again next week, as the Vikings travel to Hastings Thursday for another nonconference challenge. Hastings opened the season with a 30-20 win over Middleville Thornapple Kellogg Thursday night.
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