Casting Call for Huck Finn Characters

The Rogue River Theatre is looking for male actors from ages 17 to 60 to fill four remaining roles in their upcoming Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn production. The characters still needed for the production are the following:

  • Pap Finn, villain – (Huckleberry’s father)
  • Injun Joe, villain – (sinister character in story)
  • Jacob Grangerford – (lawyer)
  • Jim, – (African-American) lead role-friend to Huckleberry

To find out more about participating as one of these characters, contact Patricia of the Rogue River Theatre by e-mail at, or by phone by calling (616) 874-5264.

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Rams’ Playoff Run Ends in Regional Hockey Finals



Forrest Andrus guards the pipes during playoff action. Photo by CHRIS ROZEMA

They say all good things must come to an end, and so it was for Coach Ed VanPortfliet’s 2008-2009 Rockford varsity hockey team. The Rams bowed out on Saturday night in a 0-4 loss at the hands of the Howell Highlanders. The loss left the Rams’ overall record at 19-5-2-1.

The Highlanders scored the first period’s only goal on a power play three minutes into the contest. The score stayed pegged at 0-1 late into the second period as the teams battled back and forth. Then with 5:25 remaining, the Rams’ wheels started to fall off. By the end of the period, Howell had exploded for three unanswered goals, and the Rams had imploded as they were whistled off for five penalties totaling an astounding 21 minutes in the penalty box.

The third period saw almost continuous action by the teams’ power play and penalty-killing teams, and less than two minutes of five-on-five hockey. Rockford’s only memorable moment of the period came when net-minder Forrest Andrus stopped a Highlander penalty shot.

So, at the end of it all, the scoreboard read 0-4, and the teams were exchanging hockey’s traditional handshakes at center ice. Meanwhile, in the stands, the parents of the 12 Rockford seniors were wrestling with lumps in their throats and tears in their eyes as the curtain was lowered to mark the end of their sons’ high school hockey careers and the end of a very successful season for Rockford hockey.

Rockford had advanced to the regional final by defeating Grand Ledge/Waverly 3-1 on Monday and DeWitt/St. Johns 5-1 on Wednesday. The Grand Ledge game was among the Rams’ best performances of the season. After a scoreless first period, Jake Chaffee scored a goal assisted by Robert Perry and Shea Mills. Then on a power play, Sam Gallup skated from end to end, weaving in and out of defenders, and slid it into the net for a 2-0 lead. Chaffee scored his second tally of the game when he fired in a rebound resulting from a collision between Gallup and the charging Grand Ledge goalie at the top of the circles. Grand Ledge spoiled Andrus’ shutout bid, scoring with only six seconds left in the contest. Even with that blemish, it was a great defensive effort by the entire team.

In Wednesday’s victory over DeWitt, Andy Shira opened the scoring in the first period, firing in an unassisted goal from the point. In the second period, the Rams added to their lead when Chaffee tipped in a shot fired from the point by Dan Cruickshank. In the first minute of the third period, DeWitt scored to cut the lead to 2-1. The Rams answered back with goals by Adam Hoard (assisted by Travis Whitfield and Cruickshank), and two goals by Mills, the first assisted by Noah Greco and Chaffee and the second an unassisted empty-netter to post the final score at 5-1. The win was Andrus’ 14th of the season.

Although the Rams’ playoff run ended sooner than they had hoped, it was a fine season marked by a number of firsts, including a win over arch-rival Kentwood, two wins apiece over league rivals Mona Shores and Grand Rapids Catholic Central, and a win over non-league foe Big Rapids. The Rams would like to thank their many faithful fans, many of whom made the pilgrimage to Brighton to cheer them on. And what a good season it was!

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Sign Up Now for Basketball Camp

Applications are now being evaluated for the Ten Star All Star (TSAS) Summer Basketball Camp. The TSAS Summer Basketball Camp is by invitation only. Boys and girls ages 10 – 19 are eligible to apply.

Past participants include Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill and Antawn Jamison. Players from 50 states and 11 foreign countries attended the 2008 camp.

College basketball scholarships are possible for players selected to the All-American team.

Camp locations include Champaign, Ill., Phoenix, Ariz., Babson Park, Fla., Gainesville, Ga., Glassboro, N.J., Ithaca, N.Y., Marietta, Ohio, Lebanon, Tenn., Commerce, Texas, and Blacksburg, Va. There is also a summer camp available for boys and girls ages 9 – 18 of all skill levels.

For a free brochure on these summer camps, please call (704) 373-0873 anytime, or visit for more information.

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Regional Results Mixed Bag for Ram Gymnasts


Alyssa Scheidel earned an 8.9 on the balance beam, placing her in the state finals.

The Rockford gymnastics team put up their second highest score of the year at the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) gymnastics regional event held Saturday at Kenowa Hills by posting a solid 140.275 performance. Unfortunately it was not quite enough for the Lady Rams to qualify for the team state finals competition next weekend. The teams qualifying included regional champion Sturgis (146.575), Kenowa Hills-Grandville (144.325) and Mona Shores (142.675).

There were some real bright spots for the Rams as senior Alyssa Scheidel (35.45) qualified for the all-around individual state finals. Scheidel also placed individually in the uneven bars (8.8), vault (8.75), and balance beam (8.9). Ali Vanbelkum took first place in the Division II floor exercise (9.30) event and also qualified for individual state final competition in vault (8.75) and balance beam (8.65). Other Lady Rams who qualified for state finals were Jenelle Miller on balance beam (8.75), and Jehrichole Olenzuk (8.675) on uneven bars.

Rockford gymnastics coach Tom Holloway knew getting to the state finals would be a difficult task based on strength of regional competition. “This was arguably the toughest regional in the state, and our girls worked hard and performed well today. They showed great enthusiasm and team spirit, plus battled through tough injuries to Lauren Domico and Alexis Merchant late in the season. I am proud of their efforts.”

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Smooooshed – Wrestlers take State Championship


Coach Rinehart finishing his wrestling career on top as Rams take the state championship Saturday, March 7.

Battle Creek, Kellogg Arena March 6 and 7 On Friday, March 6, the top-ranked Rockford Rams placed their hopes and a 23-2 record on the line in a single elimination tournament for the team wrestling state championship. In round one, the Rams faced the 31-7 Roseville Panthers. As the Rams have done most of the season, they dominated their opponent, winning 10 of 14 matches with four of them by pin. The Rams earned a 46-21 victory and a birth in the semi-finals Saturday with Lake Orion. The Dragons advanced by upsetting fourth-ranked Detroit Catholic Central 42-27.

In a dual meet that saw the Rams and upset-minded Dragons exchange leads several times, it was the role-players who would shine. Though Tyler Johnson (145), CJ Sholl (152), Zach Banzak (189) all lost their matches, they saved valuable team points by only giving up decisions and nine team points, helping to keep the Rams in the hunt.


Michigan's wrestling state champs raise the trophy after their win against Holt in the Kellogg Arena.

Trailing 24-21, with two matches remaining, heavy-weight Jesse Somsel won a 10-0 major decision over Lake Orions Tyler Benson, giving Rockford a narrow 25-24 lead. The hopes of advancing to the final round landed on the smallest Ram in the lineup, Tyler VanRooyen (103). Although small in stature, VanRooyen carried the weight of his team to the mat in a winner-take-all battle. At the 4:30 mark of the match VanRooyen became the biggest Ram, recording a 16-0 technical fall over John Atwater.

VanRooyens five team points brought the score to 30-24, placing the Rams in the championship finals against defending state champion, Holt.


A Rockford Ram tribute to David Kohl, Rockford wrestler who died of leukemia in 2007.

Rams found themselves in similar circumstances in 1997 when they lost to defending champion Holt 30-25 because of disqualification due to a bloody nose. In that match the Ram heavyweight Ben Miller was ahead in the match but unable to stop a bloody nose, causing his disqualification and a Holt victory.

Like twelve years ago, Rockford is ranked number one in the state and Holt is ranked number two. Holt was also the defending state champion and Rockford was hungry for the win. Unlike 1997, bloodtime would not be a factor. With the starting weight drawn at 112 pounds, B-team wrestler Alex Padilla of Rockford entered the lineup for the injured Charlie Hall. Padilla fell to Ben Matthieson in 1:29, giving Holt the early 6-0 lead.


Ram wrestler CJ Scholl pinning Seth Hanton of Holt in a pivotal match for the state championship.

Three-time individual state champion Kyle Waldo scored early and often in his 119-pound match, walking away with a 24-9 technical fall over Holt’s Drew Dyer.

With Rockford trailing 6-5, Jake Byers (125) snuck a narrow 3-1 decision from Kyle Hanton, putting Rockford on top for the first time in the meet, 8-6.

In two of the four swing matches, Holt jumped out to a 12-8 lead with a 5-1 decision at 130 pounds by Mike Jones over Rockford’s Austin Scogg followed by Tyler Jackson’s 7-6 decision over Robbie Gorton at 135 pounds.


VanRooyen sends the Rams to the finals by taking his Lake Orion opponent with a technical fall.

Evening the team score to 12-12, Zach Johnson took a 17-4 major decision over Holt’s Jeff Baker (140).

In the third swing match, CJ Scholl of Rockford came up big. Trailing Holt’s Seth Hanton 3-1 late in the third period Scholl reversed Hanton, pinning him tothe mat with nine seconds left on the clock, giving Rockford an 18-12 lead.

Refusing to give in, Holt again won consecutive matches, receiving decisions at 152 and 160 pounds, tying the team score at 18-18.

Rockford Jake Dorulla scored an early two points on a take-down in his 171-pound match with Mike Andering. This take-down proved to be the only score in the match as Dorulla held on for a 2-0 win, putting Rockford back on top 21-18.


Somsel smooshes his opponent to win the state championship for the team.

At 189 pounds, Rockford’s Banazak met Corbin Boone of Holt. Boone, the third-ranked wrestler in his weight class, racked up a 21-6 technical fall over Banazak, giving Holt a 23-21 lead with three matches remaining.

The 215-pound match proved to be brutal on both the wrestlers and the fans. Joe Stefanski saw a familiar foe in James Merriles. Stefanski, the number-two ranked 215-pound wrestler in the state, jumped out for a 2-0 lead by taking Merriles to the mat in the first period. Stefanski increased his lead by one point for a stalling call in the second. Stefanski withstood numerous assaults from Merriles in the second and built his lead to 4-0 after an escape.

In the third, Merriles escaped from Stefanski, scoring his first point, only to be taken down with a double-leg. Unable to improve his position, Stefanski gave up a stalling point and release Merriles for an escape. Merriles would score one more stalling point before time expired, giving Stefanski a 6-4 decision in the pairs rubber match. At this point the Rockford led 24-23 with two matches remaining.


Zach Banazak saves team points by not allowing his opponent to pin him in the 189-pound match against Holt.

Somsel, the biggest Ram in the lineup, proved that he was able to carry the hopes and dreams of his team mates on his broad shoulders. Somsel took his opponent to the mat with a single-leg snatch for two points and then turn ???????? to the mat for a fall in 1:55, giving Rockford the state championship going into the 103-pound match.

VanRooyen fell to Freddie Rodriguez of Holt with a pin in 1:21, bringing the final team score to Rockford 30, Holt 29.

Coach Rinehart spoke on the similarities with the 1997 game, he said, “There was a lot of deja vu. I told the boys that magic things can happen when you get here. It’s kind of like Disney World. It almost feels like it’s come full circle.”

Next up is the individual state championships on March 12, 13 and 14 at The Palace of Aubern Hills. A gathering to celebrate the coaching career of Coach Rinehart is Friday, March 20 at the Corner Bar in downtown Rockford at 9 p.m. Wrestling fans and families are welcome.

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