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 and MATT WEAVER Good things don’t always come in small packages. As running back Brady Gent was about to score his fourth touchdown to cap off a brilliant night, no one expected to see the ball pop out of his sure hands. Even more unexpected was big offensive lineman Ivy Johnson falling on it in the end zone. Johnson had a swarm of Rockford students gather around him after the win over the Grand Haven Buccaneers on Friday, Sept. 9 on home turf. “It feels great,” Johnson said. “I’ve been a lineman my entire life. This is a dream come true.” The fumble by Gent was a minor hiccup in a tremendous performance for the senior. Gent had three touchdowns and 163 yards on the night. Coach Ralph Munger said of Gent, “ He’s running hard. He had a great night. He seems to get better with each night, just as a number of our guys are.” The Rams were truly dominant from the start, as KC Zenner returned a punt 75 yards for a Rockford touchdown just 3:59 into the game. Ryan Hartnagel returned a block punt 1:40 later for a second Ram touchdown, giving Rockford a 14-0 early in the game. Grand Haven tried to bounce back, scoring exactly one minute later on a Dakota Smith touchdown. After a Rockford three-and-out, the Buccaneers capitalized, bringing themselves to within four points after a field goal with 3:14 left in the first. The two teams then traded possessions for the following eight minutes, until Gent ran 36 yards for the first of his three touchdowns, making the score 21-10. The score went unchanged until the 4:37 mark in the third quarter, when the Buccaneers again went to Smith, this time on a 21-yard pass from quarterback Scott Staal. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 21-16. The Rams again answered right back, scoring on an eight-play, 2:44 second drive that ended with a 14-yard run by Gent. Rockford’s successful two-pointer made the score 29-16. Gent’s third touchdown came on Rockford’s next possession, when he pounded the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line. An incomplete pass on the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Rockford with a 19-point lead. Grand […]
VanRooyen only Ram in finals at Holt tournament by TIM COOPER The Rams fell behind the East Kentwood Falcons early in their dual meet on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Matt Franklin put his Falcons up 6-0 when he pinned Rockford’s Danny Apkarian early in the first period of their 160-pound match. Rockford tied the scored at six apiece after decisions in the 171- and 189-pound matches. At 171 pounds, Robby Gorton won a 6-2 decision over Ernie Morton. At 189, Brady Gent won his match over Zac Tinerella, 3-2. East Kentwood (EK) took the lead back after the 215-pound weight class, when Jesse Keenan defeated Brent Showers 10-7, making the team score 9-6. Jake Wilson of Rockford defeated Phil Morrow, 11-7, allowing the Rams to knot the score at 9. Rockford took its first lead of the night when 103-pound Steven Jendritz edged Charlie Hang in a 6-4 overtime decision. Hang had defeated Jendritz earlier this season when the two wrestled at the Kent County Classic. The Rams took a 24-9 advantage into the 125-pound match, following a 1:59 second pin by Nate Rojas over Curtis Blackwell in a 112-pound match and a void for Tyler VanRooyen at 119. EK cut the Rockford lead by three when Anthony Hang won a 6-3 decision over Cullen Maksimowski. At 130 pounds, Rockford’s Trent Boyer gave up an early takedown to pass regional qualifier Anwar Munye. Boyer battled back in the second period, receiving two near-falls and taking a 5-2 lead into the third period. Boyer built on his three-point lead in the third period, finishing with a 13-2 major decision. “I didn’t think I would beat him,” Boyer said. “The first time I tilted him, everything changed. It made me more confident. The second turn was when I knew I could win.” The Ram lead was extended further as Alex Padilla (135) and Mick DeBoer (140) both received voids, giving Rockford a 40-12 lead. Austin Geerlings of EK used 5:54 seconds to pin Peter Nugent, leading into the final match of the night. The 152-pound match between Rockford’s Austin Scogg and EK’s Niko Parks was tied 4-4 after regulation. The two would battle another two minutes in overtime, with Scogg scoring three points in the final 30 seconds […]
Rams district champs With his team trailing 13-7 at halftime, Coach Ralph Munger had one question for his players: “Is this how you want your season to end?” The Rams, who had sputtered throughout the first half, opened the second half with a resounding “No” when Zach Schmuck returned the kickoff to the Rockford 40-yard line. The Rams’ Brady Gent put an exclamation point on that “No!” when he broke through the middle of the Panther defense, and raced 58 yards before being caught at the West Ottawa 2-yard line. Two plays later, Gent crashed through the defense and stumbled over the goal line to put the Rams ahead, 14-13. Though Gent has been there all year, he seemingly came out of nowhere against West Ottawa, as he exploded through the Panther line consistently. He racked up 152 yards on 17 carries, most of which occurred during the second half. Gent had three second-half touchdowns. Munger had high praise for the running back. “Gent’s a great young player. He works hard every day, and he did what is expected of all our players.” The defense also answered “No!” by limiting the Panthers to 77 yards in the second half. “We had terrible field position in the second half,” West Ottawa Coach Jim Caserta commented. “We couldn’t get out of our own end.” The Rams’ final, “No!” came when Mark LaPrairie, deep in West Ottawa territory, found Neil VanderLaan for a 17-yard touchdown pass, giving the Rams a 35-13 lead, and the pair’s second touchdown of the night. The first was 49-yard strike for the Rams’ only score of the first half. This victory provided Rockford with its 11th district championship, and their sixth of the last seven years. By winning the district, the Rams advance to the regional final game against the Howell Highlanders, to be held at the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. The Highlanders advanced by defeating Holt 29-7. Ram fans should note that the annual craft fair will also be held at the high school, so parking at or near the Ted will be at a premium.