Hockey now part of Great American Rivalry Series

The U.S. Marine Corps presents Jake Chaffee (#22) with a $500 scholarship during the Great American Rivalry Series game against East Kentwood on February 24. Proud parents are Dave and Kathy Chaffee.

 

The Great American Rivalry Series is sponsored by United States Marine Corps. They started out nationally highlighting football games, but this year marks the inaugural season of ice hockey in the series.

Select schools from around the nation are invited to participate in the Rivalry Series. These schools have always had “their game”—a traditional rivalry going back many years. Thousands of players have participated in this memorable event, and every year the rivalry creates its own special memories. It is “the game” the whole community looks forward to and talks about all year long.

The Rivalry Series not only celebrates high school football and now hockey, it embraces its excitement, traditions and history. A donation is given to the host team for their football/hockey program as well as two college scholarships awarded to a player from each team in the rivalry.

The Great American Rivalry Series strives to preserve the integrity of amateur sports and to bring “every player” something to remember for the rest of their life.

One of these Rivalry Series ice hockey games was the Rockford Rams versus East Kentwood Falcons on Wednesday, Feb. 24, on Rockford’s home ice. The Rams prevailed, winning 4-3.

The Rams were presented the Great American Rivalry Series cup, and the Rams’ Jake Chaffee was selected to receive the college scholarship for having the highest grade-point average of the team—a 4.02.

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Lady Rams move on to regional basketball competition

The Lady Rams raise the district championship trophy.

 

Two of the top Class A teams in the area squared off in the MHSAA girls basketball district finals last Friday night, March 5, in Greenville. This game promised to be an exciting contest and was a rematch of last year’s district finals match-up.

Both Rockford and Northview jumped out to a fast and furious start, each trying to stake their claim and set the tone in this all-or-nothing championship game. In the end, the Lady Rams came out victorious with a 50-40 win. After four hard-fought quarters of outstanding basketball, the Rockford Rams hoisted the district championship trophy.

This game featured a strong Ram team defensive effort and a balanced scoring attack. Rockford was led in points by sophomore Kimberly Weston’s 15, followed by senior Megan Kelly (14), senior Al Huyser (11), and sophomore Halle Peterson (6). Huyser also led all players with 11 total rebounds.

“I’m so happy for the these seniors,” said Head Coach Jessica Yonkers. “They’ve worked so hard for so long.”

Rockford senior Megan Kelley sets up the Ram offense.

Rockford senior Megan Kelley sets up the Ram offense.

 

Rockford’s game plan included shutting down Northview’s two leading scorers, senior guard Danielle Kaputska and Katelyn Joyce. Constant pressure defense and allowing very few open-look three-point opportunities for the Wildcats was key to the Rams’ win.

The Rams’ victory puts them into state regional competition beginning Tuesday, March 9 and concluding Thursday, March 11 at Cedar Springs High School. Joining the Rams will be OK Red teams West Ottawa and Grand Haven, along with the Marquette Redettes. The winner will advance to the state quarterfinals next week.

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Dorulla takes state wrestling championship, four others place

Pox knocks Stefanski from title defense

by TIM COOPER

Tyler VanRooyen works for a takedown on his way to a seventh-place finish. Photo by JIM COOPER

On the verge of defending his individual state championship title at 215 pounds, a childhood illness knocked senior Joe Stefanski out of the competition when he contracted chicken pox, ending his high school wrestling career one week early. Stefanski is bound for the University of Ohio next fall where he intends to play football.

Six other Rockford wrestlers walked the floor of the Palace of Auburn Hills in the grand march on Thursday, March 4.

The state individual high school wrestling tournament begins each year with 896 wrestlers parading their school colors before cheering fans and families. This year over 44,000 wrestling fans attended the three-day event, culminating with the individual championship matches on Saturday night, March 6.

Jake Scholten tilts Chris Bohacek of Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. Photo by JIM COOPER

Following the opening ceremonies, six Rockford wrestlers participated in the first round of action. Senior Jake Scholten (119) led the Ram attack with a 7-1 victory over Detroit Catholic Central’s Matt Thompson.

The 125-pound match saw senior Jake Byers win a 15-5 major decision over Dan Jaijo of Troy. Byers used numerous takedowns in his dominance of Jaijo, earning his advance to the second round.

Sophomore Austin Scogg faced a tough opponent in Detroit Catholic Central’s Justin Melick, the eventual 135-pound champion. Scogg fell into the consolation bracket when Melick pinned him at the 1:58 mark of the match.

Takedowns and releases seemed to be the order of senior Jake Johnson’s opening match in the 160-pound bracket. Johnson achieved 12 takedowns, building a 24-10 major decision over Matt Schodowski of New Baltimore Anchor Bay. Johnson, the runner-up in last year’s 160-pound tournament, showed he was determined to get back to the finals.

Jake Johnson rides his opponent in the state individual finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 	Photo by JIM COOPER

Jake Johnson rides his opponent in the state individual finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Photo by JIM COOPER

Defending state champion at 171 pounds, senior Jake Dorulla dominated his first opponent, Ryan Erps of Pinkney. In this match Dorulla proved why he is the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class in the state of Michigan. This highly recruited wrestler has committed to Eastern Michigan University where he will continue his wrestling career next fall.

First-time state qualifier, sophomore Tyler VanRooyen also found himself dropping into the consolation bracket when he lost a 7-1 decision to Macomb L’Anse Creuse North’s Lucas Banning.

Early Friday morning, the two wrestlers in the consolations were back at work. Austin Scogg (135) took his only win of the weekend with a 3-1 decision over Nick Burt of Millford. In the 103-pound match VanRooyen made short work of Rochester Adams’ John Ko, pinning him in 54 seconds.

Jake Dorulla stands tall as the 171-pound state champion. Photo by JIM COOPER

 

In the championship bracket, all four Ram wrestlers advanced to the semifinals. Scholten (119) defeated Chris Bohacek of Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse with a 16-1 technical fall. Byers continued on his quest, defeating Jeff Sloney of Clarkston 10-6. In the 160-pound quarterfinal, Johnson downed Keith Zech of Canton 10-4. Dorulla (171) faced a tough Rochester opponent, defeating him 12-4. Dorulla proved to be a master on his feet, taking down his opponent numerous times, building to the final tally.

In the blood round, Scogg fell in a tough 1-0 decision to a Portage Central wrestler, putting a cap on Scogg’s season, falling just short of All State honors.

At 103 pounds, VanRooyen turned around a match that had no scoring in the first two rounds. VanRooyen fell behind early in the third, but tied the score before the period ended. In overtime, both wrestlers were on their feet, trying for sudden victory, when VanRooyen used a double-leg takedown to score two points and end the match victorious.

In semifinal action, Scholten, the number-two-ranked 119-pound wrestler in the state, wrestled Alec Morradian of Detroit Catholic Central. Morradian, a former state champion at 112 pounds, proved to be too tough in this overtime thriller. With the match tied at two after six minutes, both wrestlers were unable to score during the first three overtime periods. In the fourth overtime period, Morradian was able to ride Scholten for the full 30 seconds and win the match.

Byers pinned his semifinal opponent in 1:17, advancing him to the state finals.

Jake Byers wrestles in the individual finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday, March 6. Photo by JIM COOPER

At 160 pounds, Johnson wrestled a game opponent in Pontiac’s D’Oneti Polk. Johnson won a tough-fought 6-5 decision, placing him in the finals for the second time.

In anther overtime thriller, Dorulla defeated Mike Andering of Holt 7-5.

On Saturday morning, VanRooyen fell into seventh- and eighth-place matches when he was defeated by Detroit Catholic Central’s DJ Fagan 2-0. VanRooyen went on to win the seventh-place match with a fall in 3:31 over Hudsonville’s Zack Henderson.

Austin Scogg earns a 3-1 victory over Nick Burt of Millford on Friday, March 5. Photo by JIM COOPER

Scholten bounced back from his previous loss, showing the mark of a true champion. He defeated Cameryn Jackson of Lansing Eastern 3-0 and Brendan Papin of Bellview 8-1 to finish in third place.

In the finals, Rockford’s Byers put his 46-0 record on the line against Ben Methieson of Holt. Byers held a 4-3 lead after the first two periods before Methieson took control of the match in the third. Methieson scored six points, escaping from Byers and taking him down, turning him for a near-fall. For the second straight season, the Eastern Michigan-bound Byers finished runner-up.

The 43-7 Johnson faced Lowell’s Jackson Morris, Michigan’s highest-recruited wrestler. This match showed why Morris has this honor as he scored at will. Three of Johnson’s seven losses this season were at the hands of the Lowell wrestler. Johnson escaped twice during the match, but was unable to stop Morris from winning his third state championship 7-2.

Jake Dorulla ties up Ryan Olep of Lowell in the final match of Dorulla’s high school career. Photo by JIM COOPER

The final Rockford wrestler to take to the mat in the 171-pound finals was Dorulla. For the second straight match, Dorulla struggled to score. Against Lowell’s Ryan Olep, Dorulla built a small offense in the second period, taking Olep to the mat after Olep escaped. Olep escaped a second time, tying the score at 2-2. In the third, Dorulla put Olep away with two escapes and a takedown, snatching a 6-4 victory and his second state title.

Coach Brian Richardson said, “Jake Dorulla got a tough win in our last match against Lowell again. I couldn’t be more happy or proud of him. What a fantastic career for Jake. The kids got so much talent and he proved what a great wrestler he is. I am proud of all our kids. We had six of them down here and each one of them took at least one win this weekend.”

While fans congratulate this year’s Ram wrestlers on a strong season and individual accomplishments, a former Ram also won a conference championship. On Sunday, Ben Bennett, now at Central Michigan University, won a Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship when he defeated Keith Witt of Bowling Green with a technical fall at the seven-minute mark of his match.

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Rockford varsity cheer squad performs at GVSU

Sarah McLellan, Kendra Savara, Jewell Hersberger and Lindsey Marvin lead the crowd in a cheer at the Grand Valley State University game on February 27.

 

The Rockford High School varsity cheer squad was invited to perform with the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) cheerleaders at their home game against Northwood on February 27. In addition to cheering with the college squad, the girls also led the crowd in cheers they created just for the GVSU team during the halftime break. GVSU won their game in overtime, 72-70.

Pictured with the Grand Valley State University squad are Rockford girls (front row, l–r) Alena Kruger, Kendra Savara; (middle) Jewell Hersberger, Mariah Bouwkamp, Johanna Merritt, Morgan Kamp, Sarah McLellan; and (back) Lindsey Marvin.

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Pee Wee house hockey team District VI champs

Rockford’s Pee Wee house hockey team celebrates their District VI championship win.

 

The Rockford area Pee Wee house hockey team is the District VI MAHA champion. West Shore Community College was the scene for a tough five-game tournament in early February for these 11- and 12-year-olds.

The Rockford Rams started with a 2-3 loss Friday night to East Grand Rapids (EGRAHA). The Rams had their backs against the wall—one more loss and they were out.

Saturday morning, the Rams beat a previously undefeated Kalamazoo team on a goal by defenseman Cam Hendrie from near the point. Goalie Brendan Coolbaugh made several great saves to earn the 1-0 shutout.

Saturday evening, the Rams overpowered a Jackson team 6-0, led by Matthew Baker’s two goals and another shutout for Coolbaugh.

A tournament undefeated Big Rapids team with a former Rockford goalie, Alan Kolenda, battled to a 2-2 tie on Sunday morning. With only 25 seconds left in the third period, Ryan Wolfe stole the puck near the blue line and scored a nice breakaway wrist shot to win the game 3-2.

Sunday’s championship game brought back the Kalamazoo (KOHA) team, and they were looking for revenge. KOHA scored first midway through the first period. Less than a minute later, Rams defenseman and captain Jeff Benda scored on a long shot that hit the crossbar and the back of the net, tying the game 1-1. The Rams’ Bradley Barnard scored midway through the second period and brought the score to 2-1 for the Rams after two. Midway through the third, Matthew Baker scored a huge goal to make it 3-1, Rams.

With 25 seconds left, KOHA scored a power play goal, bringing the score to 3-2, Rams. The Rams fought through two face-offs deep in their zone to finish the game. With gloves and sticks flying, the Ram bench exploded onto the ice to swarm goalie Coolbaugh.

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