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On the Mark: Two battles of unbeatens highlight Week 5 WMC football slate

Speaking of perfection, how about my wife? She is the guest picker this week.

Four football teams in the West Michigan Conference still boast perfect records entering Week 5 action, but that’s about to change.

The WMC schedule for Friday, Sept. 22, features not one but two battles of unbeatens: Whitehall at Manistee in the Lakes Division and North Muskegon at Hart in the Rivers Division. Something’s got to give.

Speaking of perfection: Allow me to introduce my lovely wife, Pamela DeCamp, as a guest picker for “On the Mark” this week. She may not be perfect (none of us are), but she is for me and our family.

Shout-out to Pam for keeping things together for our family and in our home while also working full-time as a processor assistant for VanDyk Mortgage. A sports writer’s wife is much like a coach’s or athletic director’s wife: Much sacrifice is made and it’s done so gracefully. You’re my MVP, Pam!

Pam will admit she doesn’t know much about football, although she has picked up on some things hearing me talk about it all the time. (Watch her go ahead and finish with a better record than me this week.)

Speaking of picks records: How about last week’s guest picker, Jon Honore, who finished with an 11-3 mark? Not too shabby. Honore is owner of Complete Restoration & Cleaning Services, Inc., which is a CatchMark SportsNet sponsor.

Durga Insurance is title sponsor for “On the Mark” in the 2023 season.

Without further ado, here are the Week 5 picks for games involving West Michigan Conference and Greater Muskegon teams:


Whitehall (4-0, 1-0 WMC Lakes) at Manistee (4-0, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Manistee head coach Troy Bytwork announced prior to this season that it will be his last at the helm of Mariners football. He’ll certainly be missed, but anytime a decision is made with family in mind, it’s the right one. Bytwork is a good guy and a cool dude, who looks and sounds like Matthew McConaughey. (All right, all right, all right!)

Manistee has played some really good football in its first four games this season. The Mariners appear to have the right mix of physicality and skill. Could this be Bytwork’s best team in his seven years as Manistee head coach? Perhaps.

It just so happens, this is one of the better teams to come through Whitehall. Some say the Vikings are better than last season, when that squad rolled to an 11-1 record before falling in a heartbreaker to eventual Division 4 state champion Grand Rapids South Christian in a classic regional game. Time will tell where this Whitehall team stacks up.

Manistee could be the best of the rest in the WMC Lakes, but Whitehall is on another level.

Prediction: Whitehall 42, Manistee 21

North Muskegon (4-0, 2-0 WMC Rivers) at Hart (4-0, 1-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Much like Whitehall is to the WMC Lakes, North Muskegon is to the WMC Rivers. The Norsemen appear to be on another level from the rest of the division.

Hart has a chance to change that perception. The Pirates are changing their culture and this is their biggest game in years. Consider: This is the first 4-0 start for Hart since 1961.

If North Muskegon is far and away the top team in the WMC Rivers, then Hart is right in that mix for best of the rest. Last year, North Muskegon defeated Hart 55-14. The Pirates have a chance to see if they’re closed the gap at all.

On paper, this is a great matchup: North Muskegon is No. 2 in Division 7 in The Associated Press Michigan high school football rankings, while Hart is No. 8 in Division 6.

Prediction: North Muskegon 48, Hart 20

In this file photo, Hart and North Muskegon line up in a West Michigan Conference Rivers Division football game Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at Fred Jacks Memorial Field in North Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Muskegon (2-2, 2-0 OK Green) at Reeths-Puffer (3-1, 1-1), 7 p.m. Friday: As Reeths-Puffer coach Cody Kater said on the CatchMark SportsNet Podcast Monday, Muskegon is a different team now than it was at the beginning of the season. According to Kater, the Big Reds played with much more aggression against Mona Shores than it did against, say, Rockford.

In Kater’s first season at the R-P helm last year, the Rockets gave the Big Reds a good fight before falling 28-20 at Hackley Field.

This matchup is at Rocket Field. Like the game at Mona Shores two weeks ago, this is a measuring stick for Reeths-Puffer. That game at Shores did not go so well for R-P, which lost 28-10.

It’s a different week and a different challenge with the Big Reds. Can the Rockets measure up again?

Prediction: Muskegon 34, Reeths-Puffer 20

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

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