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Whitehall takes care of business at Hart, setting up ‘Battle for the Bell’ showdown

Vikings fine-tune in advance of upcoming matchup against arch-rival Montague with share of league title on the line.

Whitehall coaches Tony Sigmon, CJ VanWieren and Matt DeRose talk to their players during their homecoming game against Ludington on Oct. 1, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Zach Zweigle } CatchMark)

Whitehall’s football team treated Friday’s 46-6 victory at Hart like a business trip.

Now the Vikings get an opportunity to seal the deal on a share of a West Michigan Conference championship, and what better way to do it than in the “Battle for the Bell.”

Whitehall (6-1, 4-1 WMC) hosts neighboring rival Montague (6-1, 5-0) at 7 p.m. next Friday. The Wildcats have already secured a piece of the conference title.

“We took care of business and I’m happy for our kids to be 6-1, but we are ready to move on,” Whitehall coach Tony Sigmon said.

“It’s one of those things where it’s a rivalry game, and it’s important to the community as a whole. We have to get ready to play an excellent football team.”

On Friday, Whitehall defeated a Hart football team that got off to a strong start this season, but has been sliding lately. The Pirates (2-5, 0-5) won their first two games under new head coach Joe Tanis, but they’ve lost five straight now.

The Vikings, who were tied for fifth in the latest Associated Press Division 4 state rankings, were dominant on both sides of the ball.

Whitehall senior Alec Pruett poses for a portrait at the Vikings’ football stadium Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

Senior Alec Pruett recorded his seventh-straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 193 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He scored on runs of 12, 14 and 15 yards.

Sophomore Kyle Stratton went 9-of-15 passing for 219 yards with three TDs. He hit junior Nate Bolley on scoring passes of 18 and 6 yards, and senior Red Watson for 63 yards. Stratton also ran for a 50-yard TD. Bolley made four receptions for 71 yards.

Juniors Jackson Cook and Jaiden Altgilbers led Whitehall’s defense with 5 1/2 tackles apiece. Sophomore Trannon Aylor had an interception.

Whitehall sophomore quarterback Kyle Startton is pictured during the 2021 season. (Zach Zweigle | CatchMark)

Hart managed 120 yards of total offense against the stingy Whitehall defense. The Pirates’ lone TD came on an 8-yard pass from Kellen Kimes to Chance Alvesteffer late in the first half to cut their deficit to 21-6 at the time.

Alvesteffer paced Hart with 55 rushing yards on 16 carries. Trenton Swihart paced the Pirates defensively with five tackles.

Friday marked Whitehall’s fifth-straight win since the Vikings suffered a 32-19 home loss to Oakridge in Week 2. The Eagles (6-1, 4-1), who picked up the 400th win in program history with a forfeit victory over Shelby Friday, also is hoping to play for a share of the West Michigan Conference title when they host Ravenna next week.

Montague also picked up a forfeit win Friday, as Mason County Central canceled the game prior to the season starting and the Wildcats were unable to find a replacement in the schedule. Montague has won six straight games in the “Battle for the Bell” series, including a 34-31 double-overtime thriller last year en route to rolling to the Division 6 state title.

Whitehall is playing its best football of the season, having posted shutouts in four of its last five games and allowing just six points total during that stretch.

“We have settled in, and I’m hoping that we can go ahead and live up to our end of the bargain,” Sigmon said, looking ahead to next week’s showdown against Montague, which is ranked No. 5 in Division 6.

Whitehall did not have school Friday because of a district-wide professional development day. Students also will have Monday off for Indigenous People’s Day, per the school calendar.

“We are trying to take advantage of the days off school and make sure our kids are as healthy as possible,” Sigmon said. “I’m hoping the kids take the opportunity this weekend to lay low and reset for our big week ahead.”

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

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