by RANDY GREGORY
There was a time in the not too distant past when a Rockford versus Jenison battle on the football field would be an absolute knockdown, drag-out battle. The Rams and Wildcats would trade blow for blow in what would normally be a low scoring and physical battle with OK Red title hopes riding on the outcome. But those days have fallen by the wayside over the last decade. Jenison’s only win against Rockford over the last 11 years was in 2005. Last year’s contest was a 35-0 Rockford win that featured a running clock for the duration of the second half. This once proud program has fallen on tough times recently as evidenced by winning a grand total of 11 games over the last six years. The Wildcats have further suffered the added indignity of having insufficient numbers to even field a junior varsity team this year.
There seemed to be a glimmer of hope this season when the Wildcats topped neighborhood rival Grandville in this year’s opener. But the use of an ineligible player necessitated the forfeiture of that contest and Jenison stands at 0-3 so far in this campaign. They followed up the Grandville forfeit with losses to Grand Rapids Northview and Muskegon Reeths Puffer.
The Wildcats did bring in a new coach two years ago with the hiring of former Grandville coach Irv Sigler. The number of players in the program have increased over the last few years, but the results will take a while to show up in the win/loss column. Another thing that has changed this year for Jenison is their conference affiliation. The long-time Ottawa Kent Red Conference member has now been shifted to the OK Black along with Muskegon.
“I really don’t know a whole lot about Jenison right now,” stated Rockford coach Ralph Munger on Friday after the Muskegon game. “But we will watch some film and be ready to go this Friday. I’m not sure what our injury situation will be, but we will play with whatever hand we are dealt.”
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 at Jenison.