Six players sign letters of intent for college Six Rockford Rams football players were among athletes who signed letters of intent with the college or university of their choice at Celebration Cinema Wednesday, Jan. 31. The National Letter of Intent Day is the traditional day for athletes to make the commitment to continue their athletic career after their high school days are complete. For Rockford, kicker Steve Mette will play for Hillsdale College along with quarterback Mark LaPrairie. Ben Braden, Rockford’s six-foot, seven-inch and 320-pound offensive tackle, will be Rockford Coach Ralph Munger’s first Big Ten recruit, as he signed to play at the University of Michigan. Linebacker Anthony DeDamos and tight end Aaron Weston both head to Wayne State University. Linebacker Matt Boonstra will continue his athletic and academic career at Northern Michigan University. Coach Munger was understandably proud of all the Rockford players and praised the talent they have contributed to the Rams team.
Rams defeat West Ottawa for second time by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER With the grueling OK Red conference schedule in the rearview mirror, the Rockford Rams began their drive to a state championship on Friday, Oct. 28. The 8-1 Rams’ first opponent in the MHSAA Division I football playoffs would be the 6-3 Panthers of West Ottawa High School. The two teams met in week four of the regular season, when Rockford defeated the Panthers 41-16. The Rams’ opening possession started at the West Ottawa 46, following a fair catch interference penalty on the kickoff. Rockford’s powerful running attack tore through the Panther defense, with Brady Gent running the final yard for a Ram touchdown. Steve Mette’s extra point gave Rockford an early 7-0 lead. Following the kickoff, West Ottawa went on a 15-play march down the field. The Panthers, typically a pass-oriented team, used a ground attack to move the ball down field, before the Ram defense stiffened, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field goal from the Rockford seven-yard line. Mette put the Rams up by seven again with a 34-yard field goal of his own to cap off a 7:42 drive by the Ram offense. West Ottawa proved their quick strike capability when quarterback Trevor VanTubbergen found wide receiver Ato Condelee for a 30-yard touchdown pass, making the score 10-10 with 5:06 left in the first half. VanTubbergen ended the night 8-11 with 72 yards and one touchdown. With just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Rockford defense forced a fumble at the Panther 42. The Rams took advantage of the mistake by the Panthers when five plays later, Gent broke through the West Ottawa defense for his second touchdown of the night. Gent finished the night with 115 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Both defenses stepped up in the second half, with neither team scoring. With the 17-10 victory, the Rams advance to the district finals, where they will face CAAC Blue champion Grand Ledge. The Comets advanced by defeating Grand Haven 21-14. The two teams will face off at the Ted this Friday night at 7 p.m.
by TIM COOPER After being on the road for four weeks, the Rockford Rams appropriately returned to the Ted on Friday night, Oct. 15, for their annual homecoming game. This year, along with the fans and alumni, the Rams also welcomed the Bulldogs of Grandville to the tradition, renewing the storied rivalry between the two teams. Throughout the history of the rivalry between Rockford and Grandville, there have been many surprises. No one would have expected the Bulldogs to upset the number-one-ranked Rams early in the 2004 season, or the teams meeting later that year in the playoffs in an overtime thriller that helped launch Rockford to its first state title. Equally as shocking was the Rams’ 48-0 playoff victory over the Bulldogs in 2005 after losing 10-7 in the regular season, marking Grandville’s most recent defeat of the Rams. This year, the surprise stemmed from the stellar play of Rockford’s defense, who held the Bulldogs to just 79 yards of total offense, despite Grandville maintaining control of the ball for 24:59. Though Rockford’s offense had the ball for less than 20 minutes, they managed to tally 379 yards and score 56 points in a dominant shutout. Six different Rams found their way to the end zone, led by Zach Schmuck’s three-touchdown performance. Mark LaPrairie completed 8 of 10 passes, and threw for two touchdowns, including a spectacular pass thrown to standout receiver Neil VanderLaan, who made one of the most impressive catches he’s had so far this season. In addition to Schmuck and VanderLaan, four other Rams scored touchdowns: Brandon Lubenow, Trevor Alferink, Nate Sanders and Spencer Sims all contributed by putting points on the board. Kicker Steve Mette chipped in by hitting all eight of his extra-point attempts en route to the 56-0 blowout of the Bulldogs. Coach Munger commented, “Tonight, we executed. The challenging thing in a game like this is to maintain focus. You have to play at the level of your ability. In these games, you take the scoreboard out of the equation. The guys are gaining ground, and starting to understand the concepts of our offense.” The regular season finale will be played this Friday, Oct. 22, when the Rams travel to Hudsonville to face the Eagles. The Rams […]