by BETH ALTENA Six Rockford senior football players put it in writing and have committed to the college of their choice. On Wednesday, February 9 Rockford head Football Coach Ralph Munger invited the public and the media to an honorary signing of letters of intent, delayed one week from the first legal day student athletes can commit to a college or university. The event was cancelled a week prior because of the blizzard. “We have a much nicer day for this than last week,” Munger noted, before introducing Nate Sanders, Tyler Pratt, Neil Vanderlaan, Brett Egnatuk, Colin Remtema and Parker Ehinger to a crowd of family and friends at Rockford High School. “Each of these young men have represented us well,” he stated. “Your parents, staff, community and teammates are proud of you and the team.” Munger spoke about each of the athletes, noting that Parker Ehinger received high praise from coach Butch Jones of Cinncinati, his choice. Jones stated during a sports radio program that he couldn’t wait to get Parker down to Cincinati and that he knows he is getting a quality student-athlete when he accepts a Rockford player. Parker, #78, six-feet, eight inches and 270 pounds, plays offensive lineman and has been one of Rockford’s star players during his high school career. Parker is the son of Ric and Michelle Ehinger At Cincinnati he plans to pursue an education in criminal justice. Colin Remtema, #29, six-feet, one inch at 191 plays offensive linebacker for the team. He was a two-year starter for Rockford who Munger described as a “pillar of our defense.” He said the athlete had an “unbelievable senior year.” Colin committed to playing football for Hillsdale College. Colin is the son of Dave and Diane. He chose Hillsdale because he immediately felt at home on the campus. In addition to continuing his athletic career he hopes to study in the medical field. Tyler Pratt, #45, at six feet, one inch and 220 pounds was also a two-year starter for Rockford and played linebacker. Coach Munger also called him a pillar of the team’s defense. Tyler, along with Neil VanderLaan, committed to Saginaw Valley State University. Pratt’s position was offensive lineman. Tyler is the son of Jim and Janet. He hopes […]
Rockford shares OK Red football championship with Grand Haven by TIM COOPER The ninth and final week of the regular season found the Rams traveling to Hudsonville to take on the Eagles. Rockford’s offense, led by Brady Gent’s two touchdowns, defeated the Eagles 27-7, earning them a share of the OK Red conference crown. The first of Gent’s touchdowns came with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter, giving the Rams a 7-0 lead. For the remainder of the first half, Rockford’s offense struggled to move the ball. Hudsonville was also aided by numerous Ram penalties. “I thought it was Flag Day, with all the penalties,” Coach Ralph Munger said. Rockford’s second touchdown came in the final seconds of the second half, when quarterback Mark LaPrairie found receiver Neil VanderLaan with a 12-yard pass, a play that Munger called a turning point in the game. “LaPrairie was really on tonight,” commented Munger. “We’ve come a long way as a team with a junior quarterback. We lost two senior running backs to injuries, but we found replacements in a junior and a sophomore.” LaPrairie finished the night 15-of-25, gaining 228 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and one interception. Zach Schmuck scored midway through the third quarter. A missed extra point attempt made the score 20-0. Gent’s second touchdown came via a pass from LaPrairie, extending the lead to 27-7. Hudsonville’s lone touchdown came with 8:27 left in the game when Zac Van Ess plunged through the Rockford line for a 10-yard score. Coach Munger was pleased with the way his team closed out the regular season. “Our guys did certain things well enough to get the job done. We’ve got a lot of weapons, and are feeling pretty good about that.” The Rams are also feeling pretty good about making their 16th straight playoff appearance. The Rams found out on Sunday, Oct. 24, that their first-round playoff opponent will be the Traverse City West Titans, a team that Rockford knocked out of the playoffs in 2008, defeating them 46-26. The game will be held on Friday night, Oct. 29, at home in Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium.
Sixth win puts Rockford in playoffs for 17th straight season When East Kentwood’s Braden Miller streaked past the Ram kickoff team to start the game, it appeared Rockford may have been coming out flat after their big win over Muskegon the week before. A minute and a half later, Ram running back Zach Schmuck raced past the Falcon defense for a 71 yard touchdown run, and all looked well again. On Rockford’s second possession, Schmuck again broke through the Kentwood defense, this time from nine yards. The following two point conversion made the score 15-7, not even five minutes into the game. After his first three carries, Schmuck had 106 yards. He went on to finish the night with 145 yards, with seven attempts. Following another Rockford touchdown, the Falcons seemed to have a breath of life in them. Trailing 22-7, they marched 70 yards to the Ram 25 yard line, when linebacker Colin Remtema knocked the wind out of the Kentwood offense by returning and interception 85 yards for a touchdown that put the Rams ahead 29-7. Rockford would score again before the end of the half as backup quarterback Kyle Short threw a 76 yard touchdown pass to Neil VanderLaan, extending the lead to 29 points. The Rams defeated the Falcons 53-7 after second half touchdowns from Solomon Gant and Trevor Alferink, and a 3rd quarter field goal from Steve Mette. Rockford’s defense, forced to play with all-state linebacker Brett Egnatuk on the sidelines, put together their best effort of the year. East Kentwood was held to just 125 yards offensively. It was the first time since 1999 the Ram defense shut out the Falcon offense. Every Ram in uniform saw the playing field. Following the game, Coach Ralph Munger said, “It was nice to play so many kids tonight. The reserves practice just as hard as the starters every day. Getting into a game helps to motivate them in practice.” “We were missing thirteen kids from practice on Tuesday because of illness. With that, and the big win over Muskegon, I was concerned about a letdown, but that’s our sixth win. We’re in the playoffs.” Rockford returns to Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium this Friday, where they will celebrate Homecoming. The Rams will renew […]
Rams shock Muskegon with 52-44 upset by TIM COOPER From many people attempting, and few finishing, the gastronomical monstrosity that is the Fifth Third burger, to a rousing chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” some traditions at Fifth Third Ballpark never change. On Friday, Oct. 1, the park renewed a tradition by inviting two local high school football teams to participate in its annual tradition at the ballpark. Instead of backstops and base paths, there were goal posts and sidelines. Instead of Tigers’ prospects and dreams of Major League careers, it was the Rockford Rams and the Muskegon Big Reds with hopes of OK Red supremacy. The opening kickoff set the tone for a night of surprises, as Muskegon caught the Rams off guard with an on-side kick, which the Big Reds recovered. Four plays later, Big Reds quarterback Kavonta Keyes sprinted 17 yards into the end zone, giving Muskegon an early 6-0 lead, after the Rams’ Brandon Lubenow blocked the extra point attempt. The Rams’ first possession ended in an interception, just three plays into the drive. They retained possession of the ball after just three more plays, however, when Zack Nelson recovered a fumble forced by teammate Colin Remtema. The fumble recovery set up Rockford’s first score of the night, a 38-yard field goal by Steve Mette, cutting the Big Reds’ lead in half. Muskegon ate up the remainder of the first quarter and the opening minute of the second quarter, driving the field, before Keyes found an open Darren Briggs for a 17-yard touchdown pass, extending the Big Reds’ advantage to 13-3. Rockford’s offense found its footing on its next possession, with Mark LaPrairie going a perfect eight-for-eight on passes before handing the ball to Zach Schmuck for the final yard, bringing the Rams within three points of Muskegon. The Rams then took advantage of a second Muskegon fumble on the kickoff, giving them the ball at the Muskegon 21. Four plays later, LaPrairie found Aaron Weston in the end zone, giving the Rams their first lead of the evening. Rockford took the 17-13 lead into halftime. Rockford’s first play of the second half saw LaPrairie passing to star receiver Neil VanderLaan for a 54-yard touchdown pass, allowing […]
Rockford pulls off 14-7 upset of unbeaten West Ottawa by TIM COOPER It’s rare for Rockford to be considered an underdog, but going into Friday night’s game in Holland against West Ottawa, that was the case. With the undefeated Panthers tied for the lead in the OK Red, the Rams found themselves trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since 2002. Rockford found themselves starting their first drive from the 20-yard line after the West Ottawa kickoff went through the end zone. The Rams used 2:11 seconds to cover 80 yards, ending with Zach Schmuck carrying the ball the final six yards for a touchdown, giving the Rams a 7-0 lead after the extra point by Steve Mette. Rockford’s second scoring drive was set up by the defense when Anthony DeDamos recovered a West Ottawa fumble at the Panthers’ 45-yard line. The Rams used the next 1:13 to cover the 55 yards, scoring their second touchdown with one second left in the half on a touchdown pass from Mark LaPrairie to Neil VanderLaan, giving them a 14-0 lead. West Ottawa showed life in the opening drive of the second half, by going 79 yards in seven minutes. The Panthers’ ground attack punished the Rams’ defense for 12 plays before Zac Boersma plunged the final two yards into the end zone to cut Rockford’s lead in half. It would also be the final score of the night. Coach Munger gave high praise to the defensive play of his Rams. “This was the best defensive effort of our season. The defense looked awesome tonight. I was thrilled by the way they flew to the ball the whole game.” Munger added, “Our first drive was a beautiful thing. The backs ran the ball hard, but we’re still looking for consistency from the offense. Our offense is close to exploding; we’re just missing little details right now.” The Ram defense held West Ottawa’s ground attack to an average of 3.7 yards per carry. They gave up only 160 yards on the night. This Friday, Rockford’s game will be with the Muskegon Big Reds. The match-up of two perennial West Michigan football juggernauts will take place at Fifth Third Ball Park. Parking will be $5 per vehicle, tickets […]