Rams win fourth consecutive football district championship

Rockford defense shines as offense explodes 

by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER

Ryan Hartley (#6) finds a hole in the line and runs for a first down. Photo by TOM SCOTT

According to Head Coach Ralph Munger, when the Rams have a good week in practice, things go well in the game.

The Rams had a good week in practice last week.

Rockford took little time asserting their dominance over Grand Ledge in the district final on Friday, Nov. 4. Prior to Friday night’s contest, no team had scored more than 17 points against the Comets. Rockford put up 21 in the first quarter.

Ram quarterback Mark LaPrairie had a hand in two of the three touchdowns, the first a 19-yard bootleg around the right end to put the Rams up 7-0 just 1:39 into the game. His second touchdown came with 33 seconds remaining in the quarter, when he found tight end Aaron Weston wide open in the Comets’ secondary. Sandwiched between the two LaPrairie touchdowns was a 3-yard drive by Brady Gent.

The Ram defense has a solid performance against Grand Ledge, holding them to only 172 yards on the night. Photo by JIM COOPER

The Ram defense did their part by limiting Grand Ledge to one first down in the first half, while preventing the Comets from crossing the 50-yard line. This allowed the offense to work with a short field for the majority of the half.

LaPrairie added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, both of them through the air, as LaPrairie connected twice with Justin Wustman, once for 52 yards and again for 54 yards. Wustman showed great focus on the second reception, making a circus-catch off of a Grand Ledge defender’s helmet before turning around to carry the ball into the end zone.

The second half started with the Rams up by 35. Under MHSAA rule, when one team leads by 35 or more in the second half, the clock only stops for scoring plays, timeouts, penalties or an injury. On incomplete passes or plays where the ball is taken out of bounds, the clock doesn’t stop like it normally does. Since Rockford maintained that gap for the majority of the second half, the running clock aided in speeding the game to an early finish.

LaPrairie’s fifth touchdown on the night came on an 11-yard pass to Connor Darby. The Rams’ quarterback went 8-11 on the night, with 220 yards, and four passing touchdowns to go with his one rushing touchdown.

Mark LaPrairie fools the Comet defense on a bootleg run, which results in the first of five touchdowns LaPrairie had on the night. Photo by JIM COOPER

Moments after a shooting star streaked ominously across the sky, the Comets chipped into the Rockford lead as they punched the ball into the end zone on the third play of the fourth quarter. The running clock proved to be Grand Ledge’s downfall, however, as the Comets couldn’t manage to find the end zone again until the clock had passed the four-minute mark.

The district champion Rams advance to face the Grand Blanc Bobcats in the regional finals. The Bobcats have averaged 34.9 points per game through the season thus far, while the Rams have averaged 35.5 points per game. The two high-powered offenses will fight for the regional title at the Ted on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.

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