by RANDY GREGORY As the dawn of a new football season sits on the doorstep, the Rockford varsity football team anxiously awaits the opportunity to step forward and make their mark in this 100th anniversary of the program’s inception. The extra work in the weight room, camps, conditioning, grueling two-a-day practices and preseason scrimmage are done. The team has chosen their captains and all the hope and promise of the opening kickoff will be reality on Thursday, Aug. 23 at Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m., when Rockford welcomes Lowell. Connor Darby (running back/safety) and KC Zenner (safety) are both returning for their senior seasons for the Rams. They will both be three-year starters and are two of the hardest workers on the team. And they were the two choices for captains by their teammates. Both are also fully cognizant of the task that lies ahead of them. “Our goal is to take things on a week-to-week basis this year,” said Darby. “We need to get better every week because there are no easy games on our schedule. We will get everybody’s best shot and we have to be prepared for that eventuality.” For his part, Zenner maintains that there is no single game that the Rams are looking forward to above and beyond the other eight on the schedule. “You really can’t afford to place an added importance on any single game,” said Zenner. “We need to take it one game at a time and prepare for that contest. When you get caught looking ahead is when you can slip up. That is one of our biggest points of emphasis as captains.” Though they said all of the things you would expect captains to say, it was easy to ascertain between the lines that the Rams are definitely looking forward to the opener on Thursday for more reasons than just the game being the start of the season. Lowell won the renewal of a rivalry between two of Michigan’s traditional powers by a convincing 28-7 margin last year at Lowell. “We got off to a very slow start last year,” said Darby. “We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes and got outplayed. We need to come out focused and execute our game plan […]
Rockford advances to face Detroit Catholic Central in semifinals by TIM COOPER The goal for Coach Ralph Munger and his Rams in the regional final game was not necessarily to stop the high-powered Grand Blanc Bobcats’ offense. Grand Blanc, in the first two games of the playoffs, had run up 108 points, more than any other team in Division I. Munger gave high praise to the Grand Blanc squad, saying, “They’re the most talented team in the state.” Early in the first quarter, it appeared the Rams were going to do more than slow Grand Blanc. On the second play from scrimmage, Kyle Short intercepted a pass from quarterback Bart Williams, returning it to the Bobcat 15-yard line. Connor Darby powered into the end zone from four yards out three plays later. On Grand Blanc’s second possession, it appeared as if the Rams were going to continue to stop the Bobcats, as Rockford forced Grand Blanc to kick the ball away. KC Zenner returned the punt to the Bobcat 47, where the Ram offense took command. They advanced to the 24-yard line before being stalled by the Grand Blanc defense, where Steve Mette was called upon to kick the first of three field goals. Mette connected from 42 yards, 32 yards, and 45 yards. With the Rams leading 10-0, the Bobcats showed they wouldn’t be stopped, but rather they could only be slowed down. Grand Blanc moved the ball to the Rockford 7-yard line, where they were faced with a third-and-goal situation. A pass interference call against the Rams gave the Bobcats a fresh set of downs inside the 5-yard line. Williams completed the drive when he found Tearon Jameson, bringing the Bobcats within three points. After Mette knocked in his second and third field goals to give Rockford a nine-point lead, Grand Blanc appeared to have reversed the tides. They moved the ball 61 yards before giving up an interception in the end zone to Chubbs Johnson. The Rockford offensive line took control of the game, opening large holes and allowing the Ram running backs to chew up the field. With time running out in the first half, quarterback Mark LaPrairie found receiver Brandon Lubenow in the corner of the end zone from 13 […]
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 […]
Congratulations to the Rockford Rams football team on receiving second place in the Academic All State Division I standings. The top four teams in each division recently received plaques honoring their achievements. The top four finishers for Division I were Holland West Ottawa with a 3.976 grade-point average, Rockford with a 3.924, Saline with a 3.915, and Grand Haven with a 3.89.