by TONY ANDERSON Friday night, Sept. 25, the Rockford Rams hosted the Grand Haven Buccaneers for the lead of the OK Red conference. The estimated 12,000 fans witnessed a defensive contest. The Bucs won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Rockford’s Zach Schmuck returned the opening kick to the 40-yard line, but after three straight runs, the Rams were forced to punt. Paul Mudgett’s punt went to the Grand Haven 18-yard line. The Rockford defense forced a three-and-out and a punt, which went 72 yards, and the Rams took over on their 19-yard line. Rockford picked two first downs on Taylor Masiewicz’s passes, but stalled on the 40-yard line and had to punt. Though Mudgett appeared to be roughed on the kick, the refs called the punt “tipped,” allowing the contact, and the Bucs took possession on the 38-yard line. The Ram defense stood fast and almost intercepted a pass on third and six, and forced a punt. Rockford took over on the 37-yard line, and picked one first down on a Masiewicz pass, but stumbled and was forced to punt. Grand Haven took over on the 10-yard line. As the first quarter came to an end, the score was tied at 0. The second quarter saw the Bucs with a second-and-seven, and the Rams defense stopped them a yard short, forcing a third-and-one. The Bucs, aided by a bad spot, picked up the first down. Then Grand Haven attempted a pass play, and the Rams’ defense was called for defensive pass interference—the flag coming several seconds after the play was over. On the same drive, the Rams picked up a defensive encroachment, but the Rams still forced a fourth-and-one on the seven-yard line. The Buc quarterback tried to draw the defense offside with a great hard count, but the defense stood still. Grand Haven managed to pick up the first down on the next play. The Ram defense stood firm, forcing a fourth and inches from the one-yard line. The defense—led by Brett Egnatuk, Joe Stefanski and Josh Pribble—stopped the Bucs’ ball carrier, forcing the ball over on downs. The Rams began in the shadow of their goal post and just managed to avoid a safety on first down. On second […]
by DAN LEESA Last week Rockford’s varsity boys soccer team met the challenges of three big opponents, winning two games 1-0 and tying another at 0-0. But it’s what the scoreboard didn’t say that defined the Rams’ caliber of play. On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Rams hosted Grand Haven. The lakeshore’s OK Red giant arrived after battering highly ranked West Ottawa 4-0, but couldn’t get past Rams’ senior goalie Sean Lewis once. While Grand Haven controlled play the first 10 minutes, the Rams heeled up their defense. Pulled from his usual forward post because of speed for this game, trailblazer junior Justin Wynn deftly harassed All-State forward Nick Hieborg. Meanwhile, the Rams kept pressure on their rival with hard tackles and tight defense, earning senior forward Andrew Wyles the chance to beat Grand Haven’s keeper with a low far post strike for the game’s only score. Solid the entire game, junior defensemen Dylan Bronkema and Jason Vrosh played key roles in closing out the upset. Rockford’s contest against West Ottawa Thursday, Sept. 24, under the lights began with a salute to the team’s nine seniors: Michael Bertsch, Kyle Cook, Oliver Crosby, Nick DePompolo, Sean Lewis, Mitch Reyers, Connor VanMeeteren, Joe Weber and Andrew Wyles. After the players left the field flanked by their parents, it became a battleground for two hungry OK Red powers—neither of which could feed a net after 110 minutes of hard-hustling soccer, including two overtimes. But lack of score on the board didn’t mean lack of excitement. Early launches by Wyles and sophomore Jacob Aman were ignited, though not as quick as the Panthers’ keeper. West Ottawa’s senior defenseman Grant Neil startled Rams fans with his threatening rainbow throw-ins, which some guessed traveled further than he could kick. Fast and aggressive foot skills erupted on both sides, fueling an onslaught of free kicks and shots on goal that couldn’t find a home. While Rams’ keeper Lewis manned his post with diligence, Rockford defenders Weber, Vrosh, Bertsch and Bronkema stayed focused on the ricocheting speed of West Ottawa’s Brayden West and fellow Panther Michael McCarthy. Meanwhile, alert to practiced offside traps set by Holland’s pulled-up defensive line, Rams’ sophomore midfielder Cam Jensen, forwards freshmen Dewey Lewis and Wynn, and senior mids Reyers […]
The Rockford boys water polo team won two key conference match-ups this week, pushing their season record to 14-5. East Kentwood and Hudsonville came to the Rockford pool looking to knock off the Rams. But Rockford used a blend of senior leadership and youthful energy to turn back the opposition. The East Kentwood Falcons already have two one-goal victories over Rockford this season. They came to town Monday night, Sept. 21, looking for a third. But Rockford had other plans. The Rams jumped out to a quick lead, extending to a 9-4 halftime advantage. Senior Derik Bothma set the tone for the night by scoring six goals in that dramatic first half. The second half settled into a defensive struggle. Every time the Falcons scored, the Rams answered. When the final buzzer sounded, Rockford had secured a convincing 12-8 victory. The four Ram seniors, Bothma, Tyler Manikowski, Kyle Peterson and Connor Thelen, scored 10 of the 12 goals—junior Jeff Schmitt scored the other two. Rockford’s defense was rugged as usual, led by Bothma and junior Pat Fase. Wednesday night, Sept. 23, the Hudsonville Eagles came to challenge the Rams, hoping to find Rockford flat after a big win. Hudsonville’s combination of tough defense and clever shooting pushed Rockford to the limit. The teams were locked in a defensive struggle for the first three quarters. Rockford finally found a spark late in the third quarter. With the score tied at 6-6, sophomores Wasberg and Josh Travis scored breakaway goals to give Rockford an 8-6 lead. After Hudsonville fought back in the fourth quarter to an 8-8 tie, sophomore Eric Chisholm scored to put Rockford ahead for good. The Rams hung on for a 12-9 victory, relieved to have escaped the Eagles. Another youthful spark was provided by freshman Aedion Patino, who scored two goals and came up with four steals. Seniors Manikowski (four goals) and Bothma (eight steals) had big games as well. Senior Kyle Peterson credits the team’s success to its unity. “We’ve played together a lot and know what to expect from each other. That helps us in tight games. We couldn’t have won these games without a strong team effort.” Coach Dave McWatters congratulated his team on these big wins, but reminds them […]
Rockford’s varsity tennis team was filled with a lot of excitement and anticipation for their first match on the new tennis courts. They have been waiting for this day since August 12, the first day of tryouts. The courts were replaced as part of the bond issue approved by voters in May 2008. The Rams’ opponent Grand Haven came in with the same record as Rockford in the conference, 2-1-1. The Rams knew Grand Haven was going to be an extremely tough competitor. “To be honest you don’t get a break in the OK Red when it comes to tennis,” commented Coach Tom Huizing. “Every team comes to play with their best stuff. This is why our league is so competitive, because we all beat up on each other. Today was like the rest of the days in the OK Red, a battle to the finish.” However, the start of the match was a little different. Instead of the normal introduction, Athletic Director Tim Erickson and the rest of the Rockford administration wanted to do something special for the opening of the new tennis facility. It started with Erickson bringing out the loud speakers and getting the team fired up with some pump-up music. Parents were rolling in early, and faculty, staff and administration came and showed their support. Not only did the Rams have great support from the fans and staff, but the mascots made a crowd-pleasing appearance. Not one, but two Ram mascots were seen wandering around the tennis facility, dancing and interacting with the spectators. Principal Dan Zang cut the ribbon to begin a new tradition and legacy at the Rams’ new tennis facility. Before the matches were called to play, David Duiven and a group of choir students sang the National Anthem, which was sung with beauty, grace and honor by Rockford High School students. The opening ceremonies concluded with Erickson announcing the line-ups. As for the match, it held up to the hype. Two great teams battled for a top position in the conference. The competition was fierce and the emotions were riding high. The one thing about a tennis match is that there are so many ups and downs that you must stay focused during the whole match. One […]
Kids cheer clinic held prior to game Battle at the Ballpark is a unique football event with the Ferris State Bulldogs hosting the Michigan Tech Huskies at Fifth Third Ballpark on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Attending this event are Ferris State University (FSU) students Liz Belliel, Emily Harr and Robert Banaszak, all graduates of Rockford High School. Belliel is captain of the FSU cheer team and cheered for Rockford Public Schools since she was in seventh grade. Her teammate, Harr, cheered for Rockford as well. Banaszak plays for the FSU Bulldogs, and was Rockford Rams’ quarterback while in high school. The FSU cheer team is also holding a kids’ clinic prior to the game, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the ballpark. The clinic is for kids aged 11 to 13, and costs $25, which includes a t-shirt and cheering with FSU cheerleaders at the third quarter of the game. For more information about the clinic, contact the FSU cheer coach at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fifth Third Ballpark is located at 4500 West River Drive, Grand Rapids, just off US-131.