Rockford fought through a week of illness and some stiff competition to claim its sixth consecutive district water polo title Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Rockford High School pool. The Rams have not lost a game in a district championship tournament since the format was adopted in 2004. The boys now move on to the West Region tournament at East Kentwood, where they’ll work to qualify for the state championship tournament.
“This was the toughest competition we’ve ever seen in the district tournament,” noted Coach Dave McWatters. “I salute the tough teams in our district—they came ready to play. And I congratulate the 2009 Rams for fighting through adversity and bringing Rockford another district trophy.”
Rockford’s first opponent of the tournament was East Kentwood, who came in ranked number one in the state. Rockford’s swarming defense disrupted the Falcon attack, and the Rams built a 5-1 halftime lead. East Kentwood stormed back in the second half, but Rockford managed just enough offense to hang on for a 7-6 victory. Rockford’s defense made the difference with 28 steals in the game, including five by goalie Pat Fase, and four each by seniors Tyler Manikowski and Derik Bothma. Bothma led the team in scoring with four goals.
The Rams then faced the number-one seed in the tournament and the number-five team in the state, the Grandville Bulldogs. Rockford and Grandville shared the OK conference title this year, so there was a little extra energy in the pool for this match. Grandville’s defense seemed to have Rockford out of sync for
“It feels great to keep Rockford’s streak of district championships alive,” said a smiling Peterson. “I’m proud of the effort our entire team put forth. The tough teams we played made this weekend a real challenge. But even when we were down against Grandville, we fought back and won by working together as a team.”