Offensive line persevered through challenging circumstances

By Randy Gregory

The Rockford football team of 2012 faced a number of injuries in a season that finally came to a close in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Division 1 semifinals on Saturday, November 17th with a 35-6 loss to Detroit Catholic Central. Football is a violent game by nature and it is a rare season when a team can come through the grind relatively unscathed. But this season saw the Rams garner several seasons worth of injuries rolled up into one. No unit was spared, the captains weren’t spared and the ability of the offense to establish any semblance of continuity took a serious hit.

But the part of the team that suffered the most was the cog that could least afford it. The Ram offensive line returned only one starter in Justin Hopkins so it was already going to be an uphill battle. But having to retool the situation apparently wasn’t going to be sufficient with just that hurdle. The fun began even before the season started when starting center Dalton Lyons was forced to miss the opener. Lyons also missed several games later on and gamely tried to play on at less than 100% in other contests.

Hopkins also missed a pair of contests and struggled with various physical ailments as the season progressed as well. Brice Dolbee and Andy and Arnolds Ruperts were relatively healthy in comparison to the other members of the line and Zane Garnsey was called on and filled in admirably whenever and wherever he was needed. But these were just the prelims to a season-ending injury and an event that was one of the stranger ones in recent memory that further incapacitated an already thin corps.

Michael Harrigan had worked his way into the starting lineup at left tackle and was making solid progress in doing so. But that came to an end when he suffered a severe knee injury in the Grandville game that brought his year to a close. Harrigan’s injury opened the door for Ethan Lussky to fill the void at the tackle position. Lussky was also making progress and beginning to make his mark as well.

On his way to school the morning of the West Ottawa playoff contest, Lussky was tooling along on his moped. A deer chose that moment to meander into Lussky’s path and the moped and the deer crossed paths. The deer suffered the most serious consequences (deer heaven), but Lussky didn’t escape unscathed. Lussky suffered shoulder and hand injuries that cost him the balance of the season as well.

Through it all the Rams mixed and matched players to the situation. It necessitated making offensive linemen out of defensive linemen and vice versa but coach Ralph Munger made the best of what he could in a very challenging setting. To have progressed to the point the season did when faced with these circumstances is a testament to the players and the coaches.

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