by RANDY GREGORY
The numbers were down for Ram senior football players who made their final decisions as to their ultimate destinations this year on Wednesday, February 6th. But the quality of the two young men was never in doubt either on and off the field. The two Rockford stalwarts and three-year starters will find themselves on opposite sides of a heated rivalry that has spanned decades in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). Short opted for Grand Valley State University while Zenner chose to attend Ferris State University.
Both Short and Zenner suffered potentially devastating injuries over the course of the last fourteen months. Zenner blew out his knee during a basketball game in December of 2011 and endured a grueling rehab just to make it back to the field for the 2012 campaign. Short suffered a stress fractured foot shortly before the regular season commenced that plagued him all year during the 2012 football season and cost him basically his entire basketball season when surgery necessitated putting a pin in place to finally cure the problem.
But Rockford coach Ralph Munger feels that going through the recovery process with the class and determination the two displayed merely accentuated the admiration he has for them.
“You always learn a bit more about a young man who incurs an injury by how he handles the tough situation he has to deal with,” said Munger. “ It is always extremely tough for a coach to see an injury end a players season or career. In Kyle and KC’s case they both were afforded the opportunity with much work to be able to return to action.”
“With that being said they both did everything possible to rehab and get back into action as quickly as the doctors would allow. They both demonstrated grit and determination to return to helping lead their TEAM to the memorable Championship season we enjoyed. Both of these young men also worked their tails off in school as well. Both excelled academically and both have bright futures in their pursuit of being difference makers in the world they will live in down the road. In their situation they both could have joined the woe is me team, felt sorry for themselves, blown off the hard work it was going to take to return and fallen behind in school. But instead they both remained positive and determined to get back to where they were difference makers.”
Short will be given a shot at quarterback for the Lakers when he hits the campus in Allendale. He saw considerable action on both sides of the ball during his tenure at Rockford as a safety, wide receiver and quarterback. Munger feels that the effort Short put forward at various football camps was what really attracted college teams to his potential.
“Kyle is a talented and versatile athlete with many athletic skills,” stated Munger “He is a hard, hard worker who was driven to become one of the best athletes in West Michigan. Kyle’s relentless efforts in the off season improved his talent level tremendously between his junior and senior year as a quarterback.”
“It was no secret that Kyle was our leader on offense and that he impacted the success we made happen. Every TEAM needs a field general and Kyle was ours on the offensive side of the football. Kyle was an excellent student of the game. His passion for the game was and still is very evident in every conversation you share with him. Kyle is very out going, well spoken, loves to share his smile, loves to have fun and possesses a humble and appreciative attitude. Kyle connects extremely well with adults, his peers and has a special gift of being able to connect with the youth in our community. Kyle was a consummate, helpful and extremely competitive TEAMmate. Kyle flat out loves to play the game and thrived on the pressures associated with being the QB here in Rockford.”
Zenner will head to Big Rapids and is slated for the safety position for the Bulldogs. He was a multi-time all state and all conference selection while plying his wares at Rockford. Munger was also effusive in his praise of Zenner and had little doubt he would have played Division 1 football in college if it hadn’t been for the knee injury.
“KC was an absolute PILLAR on our defensive unit,” said Munger. “He is one of the finest defensive players to ever wear our colors proud. Smart, crafty, relentless, aggressive, tough, hard core, heavy, heavy hitter, excitable, emotional, a leader (Captain), unselfish, consummate TEAM player, consistent, weight room crazy, student of the game, humble, confident, super competitive- are just a few descriptors of KC Zenner.”
“ KC played at one speed … ALL OUT every day every play for all three years. Now we have a number of young men like KC in that regard but KC took his talents to yet another level.
What KC put himself through during the off season not many would be willing to do. What KC pushed himself to overcome was a true testament to the burning passion this young man has for being a special football player. KC was all about Rockford football. From working with the youth in our community to having fun with his TEAMmates and classmates KC was a one of kind football player who represented his TEAM, family, school and community with class.”