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Whitehall keeps bell with football shutout of rival Montague in picture-perfect setting

Vikings’ 35-0 win had it all: Overflow crowd, pink-out night, Great American Rivalry Series spotlight.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

MONTAGUE — The weather and setting were perfect Friday night at Townsend Athletic Complex for the latest installment of the “Battle for the Bell” football matchup between Whitehall and Montague.

The Vikings’ defense was darn near flawless, too.

It set the tone for Whitehall’s 35-0 victory over host Montague, keeping the bell in the Vikings’ hands for a third straight season.

The overflow crowd saw Whitehall senior Kyle Stratton rush for two touchdowns, pass for another, and score on a pick-6 — one of two interceptions for TDs by the Vikings on the night.

Photos by Shayla Hardy for CatchMark

If the action on the field weren’t enough, then the other things around the game heightened the atmosphere.

For starters, it was a “Pink Game.” Both schools’ student sections were decked out in pink to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. Meanwhile, several other fans and some players had some sort of pink in their clothing for the occasion.

Secondly, the game also was spotlighted by the Great American Rivalry Series, which also had a crew at the Muskegon/Mona Shores game Friday night.

Photos by Emma Pendell for CatchMark

Here are details and notables from the game:

  • Whitehall’s defense held Montague to 107 yards of offense on 47 plays. That’s about 2.3 yards per play.
  • Meanwhile, Whitehall’s offense gained 288 yards on 53 plays, which averages out to 5.4 yards per play.
  • Montague did a good job defending Whitehall’s dangerous passing attack, limiting the Vikings to 82 yards through the air. Stratton finished 9-of-19 through the air. However, Whitehall outrushed Montague, 206-45.
  • Stratton led all rushers with 144 yards on 15 carries. He opened the game’s scoring on a 4-yard run with 8:28 left in the first quarter. He scored again in the quarter on a tough 22-yard run, in which he was not going to be denied the end zone with 3:31 left.
  • Stratton delivered a back-breaking play in the closing seconds of the first half. Senior outside linebacker deflected a Montague pass, and Stratton reeled it in and sprinted down the Wildcats’ sideline 30 yards for a pick-6. After Kyler Frees’ third PAT of the half, Whitehall led 21-0 with 6 seconds left in the half.
  • Stratton wasn’t done making plays. With just under 4 minutes left in the third quarter, he corralled a high shotgun snap, eluded pressure, and found senior Trenton TenBrock wide open for a 15-yard TD pass.
  • Moments later, it was Napier’s time to make an even bigger impact. He jumped a pass in the flat, picked it off, and returned it 36 yards for a TD to end the third quarter. That made it 35-0 and got the running clock rolling for the fourth quarter. It marks the second straight year that Napier has scored on a pick-6 against Montague.
  • Napier wasn’t done yet. He intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter as well. Napier notched three assisted tackles on the night as well.
  • After the game, Stratton was named the Great American Rivalry Series MVP of the contest. While being recognized, Stratton asked Napier to join him and share in the award.
  • Whitehall junior Camden Thompson made four catches for 50 yards, while senior Trannon Aylor had one catch for eight yards.
  • Aylor paced the Vikings’ defense with five solo tackles and four assists.
  • Whitehall senior Kadin Waller had five solo tackles, two assists, and one sack.
  • Thompson registered four solo tackles and three assists for the Vikings.
  • Frees went 5-for-5 on PATs for Whitehall.
  • For Montague, sophomore quarterback Mason Darke finished 10-of-20 passing for 69 yards with three interceptions. He ran 11 times for minus-9 yards.
  • Montague senior Adam Baird rushed 10 times for 48 yards.
  • Senior Paul Olson made five receptions for 49 yards to pace the Wildcats’ receiving corps.
  • Montague sophomore Fletcher Thommen led the defense with five solo tackles and four assists.
  • Baird and junior Ryver Jarka recorded five tackles apiece for the Wildcats.
  • Friday marked the 117th meeting between Montague and Whitehall. The Wildcats lead the overall series, 64-51-2. But since 1950, the series is tighter with Montague leading it 41-39.
  • Next up: Whitehall (4-0, 1-0 WMC Lakes Division) heads up to Manistee (4-0, 2-0) to take on the Mariners in a battle of unbeatens at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. Meanwhile, Montague (2-2, 1-1 WMC Lakes) hosts Ludington (2-2, 1-1 WMC Lakes) in the Wildcats’ homecoming game at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22.



Whitehall retained the bell for a third straight year with a 35-0 victory over rival Montague in the “Battle for the Bell.” #fyp #catchmarksportsnet #csn #football #whitehall #whitehallvikings #montague #montaguewildcats #bell

♬ Hells Bells – AC/DC

It was more than the “Battle for the Bell” at Montague. It was the “Pink Game,” and student sections from rivals Whitehall and Montague showed out! #fyp #catchmarksportsnet #csn #football #whitehall #whitehallvikings #montague #montaguewildcats #pinkgame

♬ Pink (From Barbie The Album) – Lizzo

Two weeks ago, Whitehall’s Everett Napier lost am impromptu rap battle to a 53-year-old trucker at a rest stop. Tonight, the senior outside linebacker had the last laugh with two interceptions — one a pick-6 — in a 35-0 win at rival Montague. #fyp #catchmarksportsnet #csn #whitehall #football #whitehallvikings #picksix #interception #redemption @Everett Napier

♬ Musik Tiktok – Dj unodhowhow

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



  1. Jim Sigmon

    September 16, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    Great coverage. Alway enjoy your analysis of the games and insight. Thank you for what you do.

    • Scott DeCamp

      September 17, 2023 at 11:35 am

      Thank you much, Jim! Always enjoy our chats at games!

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