by RANDY GREGORY Brandon Lubenow, a 2012 Rockford graduate, became the latest Ram football player to finalize his plans for the upcoming season. After traveling to Big Rapids to meet with new Bulldog Coach Tony Annese recently, Lubenow strutted his stuff and left with an invitation to become a member of this year’s Ferris State University (FSU) squad. “Coach Annese was a very personable and funny guy, and he felt I had the talent to compete at that level after watching me go through some drills,” said Lubenow. “I have put on about twenty pounds since last season at Rockford and have been able to maintain my speed. Coach Annese said they will line me up as a slot receiver and see what I can bring to the table.” Lubenow played primarily as a wide receiver for the Rams, but also saw some time as a defensive back. He saved his best game of the year for the final game of the 2011 season. In that contest the Rams lost in overtime to Detroit Catholic Central (DCC) in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I semifinals. The stout Shamrock defense and several untimely injuries to Rockford running backs forced the Rams to the air. Lubenow and Ram quarterback Mark LaPrairie repeatedly torched the DCC defense with a deft passing attack and, despite coming up three points short in the extra session, the duo left all in attendance marveling at their exploits. Rockford Coach Ralph Munger said that the difference in Lubenow physically is striking and feels he has a chance to be a difference maker for the Bulldogs. “Brandon came out to our quarterback clinic and really looked good catching some passes from the QBs that were there,” said Munger. “He is a lot thicker and looked at least as quick as he was last season for us. He has always had the potential and I think that Ferris State is getting a highly motivated young man who can make some plays for them.” Lubenow will have a couple of familiar faces in Big Rapids when he arrives there on August 7. Former Ram quarterbacks Robert Banaszak and Taylor Masiewicz are both members of the team this year as well. He is also no […]
by RANDY GREGORY Beating East Kentwood was going to be a nigh unto impossible task for the boys track team from Rockford at the OK Red conference meet at West Ottawa on Friday, May 11. Things played out pretty much as expected as the Falcons rang up 190.5 points to the Rams’ 130.5. The two top teams in the conference meet ended up just as the regular season played out with East Kentwood first, Rockford second and everyone else an indistinct blur. “I thought the kids showed up real well,” said Rockford Coach Andy Martin. “We had three kids in the 100-meter finals for the first time I can remember at Rockford and our 4×100 relay team did some damage. Chris Eggenberger, Drew Woznick and Austin Benoit all had great days as individuals, but we dropped the baton in the 4×800 relay and that really cost us. Overall, though, it was a good day for us as a team.” Woznick took first in both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. His winning time in the 800 was 1:59.92 and in the 1,600 it was 4:24.43. Eggenberger took the 200-meter in a blistering 22.27 and finished second in the 100-meter dash at 11.22 seconds. He was also part of the Ram 4×100-meter relay team that topped the field with an excellent time of 43.19 seconds. The other three members of that winning contingent were Brandon Lubenow, Nick Simms and Tim Gilbert. Benoit had a pair of runner-up finishes for the Rams. He ran a 9:51.89 3,200-meter and narrowly lost to Woznick with a time of 4:24.73 in the 1,600 meters. “That was great seeing a pair of Rockford runners out in front of the pack at the finish line in the 1,600,” said Martin. “If Austin [Benoit] had another ten meters he may have passed Drew [Woznick], but they both ran a fantastic race.” Next up for Rockford is the Division I regional at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 19. The Rams will be joined by a host of fellow OK Red members and several other West Michigan schools for the meet that will determine how many Rockford athletes will advance to the state finals two weeks later at East Kentwood. “We want to […]
Shamrocks too much in semifinals by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER Things looked good early for the Rockford Rams football team on Saturday, Nov. 19, as Brandon Lubenow returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Then a Steven Mette field goal on the Rams’ second possession put them up by 10. Then things began to change. An uncharacteristic pass interception by Mark LaPrairie gave Detroit Catholic Central the ball on the Rockford 23-yard line. Four plays later, the Shamrock quarterback Kyle Cooper found Mark Doneth in the end zone, making the score 10-7. The Rams’ next drive went 69 yards, ending with a 14-yard LaPrairie-to-Lubenow pass, again putting Rockford up by 10. Midway through the drive, running backs Connor Darby and Ryan Hartley came off the field due to injury, forcing Coach Ralph Munger to rely on his reserves. Detroit Catholic Central used a pair of halfback passes on their next drive, the second a 21-yard strike which placed the ball at the Rockford 2-yard line. The Shamrocks pulled back to within three on the following play, when fullback David Houle dove through the Ram defense for a touchdown. A 45-yard pass to Lubenow gave the Rams one final scoring opportunity before the end of the half. With seven seconds remaining, LaPrairie found Justin Wustman open in the middle of the field. Wustman’s second effort fell short at the Shamrock 1-yard line as time expired. The second half started with Detroit Catholic Central using their strong running game to take control of the clock. The only points in the second half came on a 27-yard field goal by Shamrock Alex Kozlowski, which tied the score at 17. It appeared the Shamrocks had everything going their way late in the fourth quarter, as they drove the ball to the Ram 3-yard line. With 30 seconds remaining, Kozlowski set up for the game-winning field goal. The kick was blocked by the interior of the Ram defensive front, sending the game into overtime. Detroit Catholic Central, having won the coin toss, chose to play defense. Rockford, having failed to advance the ball 10 yards to score, settled for a 26-yard Mette field goal and a 20-17. On the Shamrocks’ second play, Houle caught a pass from […]
by TIM COOPER Not since 2002 had the Rockford Rams lost two games in a row. Rockford hadn’t gone 0-2 to start a season since 1978. Only four times since 1950 have they dropped the first two games of the year. After a week one loss to Lowell, and the perennial state power Holt Rams coming to town, it appeared avoiding that fate would be a daunting task. In the previous five games, Rockford had gone 3-2 against Holt, defeating Holt 27-24 last year in a tremendous come-from-behind effort. With the opening kickoff, Rockford’s special teams took control of the game. Using their “starburst” kick return, Brandon Lubenow raced 96 yards for the first score of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, a Holt fumble returned the ball to Rockford on the 11-yard line. One play later, Ryan Hartley broke through the Holt defense for a touchdown, giving Rockford a 14-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game. After a Holt punt, Rockford drove 50 yards on eight plays, capped off by Connor Darby’s 5-yard run, making the score 21-0. Holt’s bright spot in the first half came when Rockford fumbled a punt reception at their own 49-yard line. The visitors finished the drive early in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Justin Alleman. For much of the second quarter, the two teams exchanged drives with each other, until Rockford quarterback Kyle Short found Lubenow open in the end zone to extend the lead by seven. The score remained 28-7 as the two teams headed into the locker rooms for halftime. The second half opened with an 80-yard Holt drive that ended when Rockford’s KC Zenner recovered a fumble in the end zone to out the ball back in Short’s hands. When Rockford was forced to punt on the following drive, kicker Steve Mette’s punt pinned Holt deep into their own territory. After Holt drove to midfield, Dylan Rodriguez recovered a fumble to give the ball back to Rockford’s offense. Darby, who had 29- and 11-yard runs in the following series, also finished the drive by taking the ball five yards for a touchdown. Mette’s extra point made the score 35-7. Rockford’s final score of the evening came when running back […]
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.