Rockford takes on Traverse City West in pre-districts
by TIM COOPER
On Friday, Oct. 29, 256 teams throughout the state, divided into eight divisions, began the run to the state championship, which will be held at Ford Field in Detroit on Thanksgiving weekend. This year’s playoff opener marked the fifth time the Rockford Rams and the Traverse City West Titans have met, with Rockford having won each of the previous four games.
Behind the strong running of Zach Schmuck, Rockford jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Schmuck’s one-yard plunge into the end zone capped off a nine-play, 52-yard drive. It was the first of three touchdowns Schmuck scored in the first quarter.
Two plays later and 23 seconds later, Schmuck scored again.
Schmuck’s second touchdown was set up by the first of KC Zenner’s two interceptions. Zenner returned the interception 15 yards to the Titan 13. On the following play, Schmuck carried the ball into the end zone to give Rockford a 14-0 lead.
After the Ram defense forced Traverse City West to punt, Rockford took possession of the ball again, mounting an eight-play drive that was finished by Scmuck’s third touchdown with 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Rams went into the locker rooms with a 28-0 lead at halftime after Kyle Short threw an 11-yard pass to Aaron Weston with 29 seconds left in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Traverse City West saw a ray of hope as they stopped the Rams in the first possession of the half. The Titan offense followed up their defense’s effort by driving 86 yards into the Rockford end zone to narrow the score by seven.
West’s efforts were stifled, however, as the Ram defense, continuing to hit hard, stopped the Titans on a critical fourth-down-and-one-yard-to-go situation with 2:54 left in the third. Rockford’s offense brought the lead back to 28 as Kyle Short threw his second touchdown pass, this time to Matt Boonstra.
Traverse City West scored one more touchdown in the fourth, to make the final score 35-14.
Following the game, Coach Ralph Munger said of his Rams, “Our boys came out ready to play, scoring on our first three possessions, but then I think our kids let up some after building such a quick lead. We need to be a little more aggressive up front on both sides of the ball.”
Rockford will face the Panthers of West Ottawa in the district championship at the Ted this week. The game will be a rematch of the conference match-up, which Rockford won 14-7 at West Ottawa. The Panthers advanced after defeating Grand Haven 23-21.