Rams carry eight-game win streak into the playoffs
by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER
A small crowd braved the cold temperatures on Friday, Oct. 21, as the Rockford Rams battled the Wildcats of Jenison in the final football game of the 2011 regular season. Even temperatures in the 30s weren’t enough to cool off the red hot Rams, whose defense had only allowed 14 points in the previous three games.
Points would be at a premium for Jenison, a team that had averaged only 15 points per game through the first eight games this season. The Rockford defense limited the Wildcats to only 115 yards of total offense, while the Rams gained a total of 359 yards on the night.
“Randy VanderVeen and the defensive staff do a wonderful job putting together a game plan,” said Coach Ralph Munger. “The type of offense Jenison runs can be difficult to defend.”
The Rams’ defense helped their offense by giving them a short field consistently throughout the night. Rockford’s first score of the night came on a four-yard plunge by Connor Darby into the end zone after a 46-yard drive. The second touchdown came following a 40-yard drive when Mark LaPrairie hit Justin Wustman with an 18-yard pass, putting the Rams up 14-0.
The Rockford offense left the door open for Jenison by turning the ball over on each of their next two possessions, but the Ram defenders slammed the door each time, forcing the Wildcats to punt.
Rockford’s next possession started on their own 18-yard line, a drive that saw the Rams travel 82 yards in only four plays. Darby opened the series with a 34-yard dash to the Ram 42-yard line. Three plays later, Brandon Lubenow finished the series with a 51-yard touchdown romp through the Jenison defense.
The Rams had two more possessions in the first half—the first a 48-yard drive that showed balance as the Rams passed on three of the seven plays. The final play was a 13-yard touchdown run by Ryan Hartley.
Rockford’s final drive of the first half was a 38-yard series, ending with Lubenow carrying the ball 12 yards for a touchdown, putting the Rams up by 35 at halftime. The Lubenow touchdown, his second of the night, capped off the scoring, as both teams used the second half to allow their reserves to see playing time.
Rockford carries an eight-game winning streak into the playoffs. This Friday, the Rams will face the Panthers of West Ottawa in a rematch of the week four conference game in which the Rams were victorious. The winner Friday night will advance to the district finals.