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On the Mark: For Week 5 and beyond, the theme in the WMC is sportsmanship

Remember, the weekly football picks are done in fun.

The West Michigan Conference held a Sportsmanship Summit Tuesday at Fremont High School so that athletic directors and student representatives of all 14 member schools could assemble under one roof.

Standout student-athletes from the expanded conference, including some notable football players, worked together in various breakout sessions in which the importance of sportsmanship and respect for other athletes, coaches, officials and fans was stressed.

It was a great first step to get everybody on the same page and remind student leaders about the good, the bad and the ugly of interscholastic athletics.

Attendees of the 2022 West Michigan Conference Sportsmanship Summit pose for a group photo Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at Fremont High School in Fremont, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Kudos to Fremont AD David Walls and Montague AD Jay Mulder for coordinating the effort. CatchMark was on hand to document the summit.

It’s up to the student leaders to impart the message to their peers, but the burden of good sportsmanship falls on all of us.

And, yes, that even applies to me tipping my cap to Cal VanSingel and Jon Russell, whom I’m still chasing in the “On the Mark” weekly football picks.

In continuing our theme of good sportsmanship, allow me to extend a warm welcome to Conner Raeth, CatchMark techie, who is our guest picker this week. Good luck, Conner!

Graphic by Bethany McCullough | CatchMark


Hart (3-1, 1-0 WMC Rivers) at North Muskegon (3-1, 2-0 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday, North Grove Brewers WMC Game of the Week: It will be a contrast of styles in this one: Hart tends to keep it on the ground more, while North Muskegon slings it around the field.

Rumor has it that the Pirates are a little banged up. If they are indeed shorthanded, then that makes this task even more difficult.

Both teams are seeking a fourth straight win. North Muskegon should get it.

Looking forward to our first-ever livestream from Fred Jacks Memorial Field.

Prediction: North Muskegon 34, Hart 14

Manistee (3-1, 1-1 WMC Lakes) at Whitehall (4-0, 1-0 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday: These teams last played in Week 9 of the 2005 season with Whitehall winning 35-14.

Manistee already got a good look at the top level of the West Michigan Conference, as the Chippewas lost at home to Oakridge, 46-19, in Week 3. If Manistee thought Oakridge was tough, then wait until the Chippewas see Whitehall.

On the flip side, this could be a bit of a trap game for the Vikings, who played rival Montague last week and travel to Oakridge next week in a huge matchup.

Prediction: Whitehall 48, Manistee 14

Whitehall defeated Montague, 60-6, in the North Grove Brewers West Michigan Conference Game of the Week, which doubled as the “Battle for the Bell,” on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Whitehall, Mich. (Photo by Kiara Mikkelsen for CatchMark)

Montague (2-2, 1-1 WMC Lakes) at Ludington (3-1, 1-1 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday: This has the makings of a fantastic high school football game. Based upon what I’ve seen from these teams, in person and in analyzing their results and stats, it’s a coin-flip type of game.

Based upon remaining schedules and the playoff picture, Montague needs this one a lot more. Ludington may disagree with that sentiment. Either way, the Orioles most certainly will be jacked up as it’s the middle of the regular season and they’re finally playing their first home game.

Both teams are coming off losses to tough opponents: Montague vs. Whitehall, Ludington vs. Oakridge. Going with Montague here, but it would not surprise me at all to see Ludington win it.

Prediction: Montague 24, Ludington 20

Ludington defeated Fremont, 7-0, in the North Grove Brewers West Michigan Conference Game of the Week Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at Pine Street Athletic Complex in Fremont, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Fremont (3-1, 0-1 WMC Lakes) at Oakridge (4-0, 2-0 WMC Lakes), 7 p.m. Friday: Fremont and Oakridge last met in the 2004 season opener, with the Packers pulling out an 18-14 win over the Eagles. Now the teams are WMC Lakes Division opponents.

Both squads do a lot of their damage on the ground offensively, although the Eagles have been pretty efficient through the air as well.

You can see a certain degree of toughness in Fremont this season. Question is, will the Packers have enough of it to hang with the Eagles for four quarters? Oakridge found itself in a game last week against Ludington. The Eagles shouldn’t be looking ahead to next week’s showdown vs. Whitehall.

Prediction: Oakridge 30, Fremont 14

Oakridge defeated Ludington, 30-18, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, at Russell A. Erickson Stadium in Muskegon, Mich. (Bethany McCullough | CatchMark)

Ravenna (3-1, 2-0 WMC Rivers) at Mason County Central (1-3, 1-1 WMC Rivers), 7 p.m. Friday: Mason County Central got in the win column last week at Holton, while Ravenna is seeking a fourth straight victory.

While the Spartans have some nice pieces to the puzzle, they don’t have as many as the Bulldogs.

On a side note: Former Ravenna player and coach David Smith is up at Mason County Central now.

Prediction: Ravenna 42, Mason County Central 14

Ravenna defeated Montague, 14-7, in the North Grove Brewers West Michigan Conference Game of the Week Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, at Citizens’ Field in Ravenna, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Shelby (0-4, 0-2 WMC Rivers) at Hesperia (1-3, 0-1 WMC Rivers), 7 p.m. Friday: Both teams are looking for their first divisional victory – Shelby seeking its first win of 2022 overall.

With the exception of last week’s 50-0 home loss to North Muskegon, Hesperia has competed in its other games. Meanwhile, Shelby showed some life offensively in last week’s 55-13 loss at Ravenna.

With home-field advantage, we’ll go with Hesperia in this one.

Prediction: Hesperia 26, Shelby 20

Members of Hesperia’s 2022 football team posed for a group photo during West Michigan Conference Media Day hosted by CatchMark SportsNet and MLive and sponsored by VanDyk Mortgage Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, at the VAC in Whitehall, Mich. (Amy Yonkman | CatchMark)

Muskegon Catholic Central (2-2) at Orchard View (0-4), 7 p.m. Friday: Muskegon Catholic Central may not be the team you want to face while you’re trying to figure things out, as Orchard View is.

Sure, MCC is 2-2, but all four of the Crusaders’ games have been nail-biters, including last week’s road trip to Fulton, Ill., where they edged the Fulton Steamers, 7-6.

Orchard View lost at home to North Muskegon, 55-0, in Week 2 – one week after the Crusaders rallied past the Norsemen, 24-22.

The Cardinals competed in last week’s 30-14 loss at Manistee.

Prediction: Muskegon Catholic Central 40, Orchard View 14

Montague defeated Orchard View, 42-6, in a West Michigan Conference Lakes Division football game Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at Townsend Athletic Complex in Montague, Mich. (Photo by Kiara Mikkelsen)

White Cloud (2-2) at Holton (0-4), 7 p.m. Friday: White Cloud and Holton were Central State Activities Association foes going back to 2008 and Western Waterways opponents before that.

Now, the Indians and Red Devils are squaring off in a nonconference matchup.

Holton is very young and experiencing some growing pains. White Cloud definitely has more experience. We’re going with the Indians here.

Prediction: White Cloud 46, Holton 12

Manistee defeated Holton, 54-6, in the North Grove Brewers West Michigan Conference Game of the Week Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, at Chippewa Field in Manistee, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

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

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