By RANDY GREGORY
When most of the prognostications as to who would comprise the list of contenders in OK Red football for 2018 came out, few if any included Hudsonville among the elite. The Eagles were coming off of a 4-5 season and saw veteran coach Dave Lidgard hang up his whistle after an excellent career at the helm of the Ottawa county school.
But as often happens when trying to figure out how a group of teenagers would gel in a new environment, the Eagles have far outperformed what was expected by many. Under new coach Brent Sandee, Hudsonville sits at 5-1 overall (3-0 OK Red) and sits only a half game behind a powerful contingent from East Kentwood. Included in that 5-1 record are wins over Grandville (16-13 in OT) last week, Caledonia and Grand Haven in league play. They also pounded Grand Ledge and Holt to begin the campaign. Their only loss was a hard fought non-league tilt with their neighborhood rivals from Jenison 20-12.
For the year Hudsonville has outscored the opposition by the count of 157-71 for an average score of 26-12. Rockford has outscored their foes 160-111 for an average score of 27-19. But the 3-3 Rams are fresh off of their most complete effort of the season with a 42-6 shellacking of Caledonia last Friday. In OK Red play the Rams are 2-1 and still in control of their own destiny as they look to procure at least a share of the league crown.
Another motivating factor for Rockford is that in order to cement their 24th consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association playoff berth, they need to win all three of their remaining games. There is still a fairly decent chance that wins in two of the three games may allow them to sneak in but a guarantee is only achieved by running the table.
Rockford leads the all-time series between the two schools by the count of 12-7 but nearly every game has been tightly contested and fiercely fought till the bitter end. Rockford won last year 37-14 and Hudsonville won the regular season encounter 14-7 in 2016 before Rockford returned the favor in the playoffs 24-7.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. this Friday, October 5th at Hudsonville.