by RANDY GREGORY
Ralph Munger has never been one to easily accept credit for the incredible amount of success he has achieved over his previous 32 seasons as a high school head football coach. He is an astounding 271-82 over that time span (including 184-52 at Rockford in 20 highly productive campaigns). Let him know what a great game or game plan the Rams played or employed and it is always “the kids or my assistants” who deserve the accolades.
So in deference to Munger, here are the assistants who comprise the 2012 Rockford coaching staff. Some of them are grizzled veterans, some have been here for a bit and there is even a relative newcomer. But to Munger, they are the backbone of many of the accomplishments he has been lauded for and highly deserving of whatever recognition they receive.
One of the oddities that Rockford has employed over the Munger years is the relative dearth of assistant offensive coaches, and this year is no exception. The lone assistant with assigned offensive responsibilities is David Lee. Lee is in his 13th season and is in charge of coaching the running backs.
Steve Dengler is in his 18th season as an assistant and is the special teams coordinator. The special teams for Rockford have been superior annually and Dengler is the main architect of their success. He also enjoys the rare distinction of having played for Munger.
The defensive side of the ball is where the Rams are loaded with a bevy of assistants with a multitude of experience. Randy VanderVeen is entering year number 16 and is the Rams’ defensive coordinator. Bob Hieshetter has returned to the sidelines after a short hiatus and is in his 12th season while coaching the inside linebackers. Rick Wilburn is in year number eight as the outside linebacker coach. Brent Cummings will be in his fifth year as the mentor of the defensive backs, and Bob Rogers is in his fourth season and will coach the defensive line.
Add it all together and that is 45 years of coaching experience on the defensive side of the ball alone for Rockford. Keep in mind also that those 45 years comprises only the years these coaches have manned the sidelines at RHS. There are collectively many other seasons of experience amongst this outstanding quintet.
Drew Maroe is the newcomer and is in charge of the “look” or scout team. That responsibility encompasses preparing the Rams for the next opponent by mimicking their offensive and defensive sets and primary tendencies.
Bruce Turner returns as the Rams’ videographer, and Stu Wilkes also lends his expertise to the “look” team.
Assistant coaches at the high school level devote long hours for extremely modest pay. We are blessed with some of the finest assistants in the state who go almost unnoticed for all of their contributions. The next time you see one of these fine gentlemen, shake their hand and thank them for all they have done on a yearly basis to provide great entertainment for us as fans and valuable life lessons to hundreds of young men.