If there is a temptation for Whitehall’s football team to be looking ahead to what should be a big-time matchup with rival Montague in Week 8, then the Vikings aren’t showing it.
At least, Whitehall coach Tony Sigmon is guarding against his squad looking ahead. So far, so good, based upon the Vikings’ 68-0 road victory over Shelby Friday.
Whitehall (3-1, 2-1 West Michigan Conference) scored seven offensive touchdowns on 13 total plays, plus three special-teams TDs, and posted a second-straight shutout. Last week, the Vikings won at home against Ravenna, 42-0.
“Our biggest thing this week was just focusing on getting better because we know what lies ahead for us, especially in the back end of the season. But, you know, also if everything was automatic, we wouldn’t play the game. We didn’t want to go ahead and disrespect an opponent that way, either,” said Sigmon, whose team has rebounded nicely after a 32-19 home loss to Oakridge in Week 2.
“It’s nice that we have a veteran group and they embraced (staying focused) a lot more, I think, and they did a really good job of embracing that all week long,” Sigmon said. “We wanted to make sure we respected the process of winning and respect our opponents and make sure that we’re constantly getting better because obviously we need to be firing on all cylinders and getting better each week.”
On Friday, Oakridge lost at Montague, 33-7. That leaves the Wildcats alone atop the conference standings with a 3-0 league record, followed by Whitehall, Oakridge and Ravenna each at 2-1.
Senior Alec Pruett had another 100-yard rushing game for Whitehall, finishing with 126 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.
It was senior Red Watson who stole the show for the Vikings, however. Watson returned a punt 60 yards for a TD, he intercepted a pass and took it to the house and he caught a 41-yard scoring pass from Kyle Stratton.
Junior Nate Bolley also scored on special teams for the Vikings with a 65-yard punt return.
“It really was just a game of defense and special teams. I mean, we ran 13 plays total tonight. Everything kind of happened really on special teams,” Sigmon said.
“It was really just kind of one of those games where turnovers turned into big plays for us and we were able to get some kids in the open field with Nate Bolley and Red Watson, they were able to take advantage of it.”
Stratton, a sophomore, opened the scoring with a 5-yard TD run less than two minutes into the game. Bolley, Lukas Palmer and Jackson Cook also had scoring runs.
Whitehall led Shelby (0-4, 0-3) by a 54-0 margin at halftime. The Vikings outgained the Tigers in total yards, 304-31.
Jaiden Altgilbers led Whitehall’s defense with 4 ½ tackles, while Braydn VanPatten had four stops.
Cade Clement rushed for 25 yards on 14 carries for Shelby.
“My job as a head coach is to put our players in a position to be successful. I failed at that this week,” Shelby coach Phil Fortier said in a text message to CatchMark SportsNet. “I cannot fault our effort and courage tonight. Our kids are tough and resilient. We will get back to work and prepare to become a better team this week.”
Shelby visits Mason County Central next Friday. Whitehall hits the road again in Week 5 for a test at North Muskegon, which is coming off a 37-0 win at Hart.
The Vikings’ schedule has them hosting Ludington in Week 6, followed by a scheduled road game against Hart in Week 7.
The potential game of the year in the West Michigan Conference is looming in Week 8, but Sigmon is trying to ensure his team is not looking ahead at all.
“You know, it’s a long season, a lot of things happen, a lot of things can happen,” he said. “We’re talking about a game that’s the last conference game of the year. That game only means so much if we hold up our end of the bargain, so we have to make sure that we fully lock into North Muskegon and their kids and what they do offensively.
“Again, we really have to embrace that process because 3-1 (overall record) is great, but 3-2 and 3-3, all of a sudden, it’s coulda, shoulda, woulda. There’s a lot of things we’ve got to take care of on our end.”
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