Alone at the top by DREW KERR and DAVE MITCHELL It seems like only yesterday pre-season two-a-day practices were starting and the question around many communities was whether or not their local high school football team would rise to the occasion and make the playoffs. And even better, would they be good enough to hoist the coveted state championship trophy in the end? Fast forward to October 21 and the last regular season game of the year. Dreams are ending as some teams fail to make the playoffs, while other dreams are just beginning as the playoffs are just around the corner. Tonight, the Friday Night Lights Experience (FNLE) headed to David McKenzie Stadium, as the Jenison Wildcats hosted the rival Rams from Rockford. The Rams looked to finish the season with a win and capture the outright championship of the OK Red conference. While on the other side of the ball, the Wildcats were looking to play the role of spoiler and hand the Rams their first conference loss. As we enter Wildcat country, the feel of parking shouldn’t be a problem. The lack of Wildcat support for Friday’s game would only make our access easier. The Wildcats have endured a rough season and had only notched two wins up to this point. Even with an abundance of parking options available, we did notice one feature that Jenison took advantage of that made the Wildcats stand out on our FNLE ranking. The host Wildcats had shuttle access available to the gate for anyone needing assistance for Friday night’s game. Passing through the gates into David McKenzie Stadium, we notice that the overall atmosphere seemed a bit subdued and also lacked the energy and emotion that typically comes from a Rockford-versus-Jenison game, especially since these two teams have been regularly doing battle since 1972. This is a stadium that was built to host nothing short of the best and it shows. The facility is amazing, but the lack of pre-game activities gave us the feeling that this was a community that was ready for the season to come to an end, to try to determine what went wrong and start fresh again next season. The cold fall air and clear night provided the perfect backdrop […]
Friday Night Lights Experience
Week 3: Union Red Hawks versus East Grand Rapids Pioneers For the last two weeks, FNLE has covered games that included the Rockford Rams. Well this week we left the comfort of the OK Red and headed to Memorial Field to watch the East Grand Rapids (EGR) Pioneers host the Union Red Hawks. Even though this was a non-conference game and one with not much history, our expectations were high as we headed to the home of the five-time Division III state champions. We arrived at Memorial Field an hour prior to kickoff and were able to park right next to the stadium. This took us by surprise—how were we able to park so close to the stadium this close to kickoff? Normally parking in the street is not the most ideal situation for people. However, looking around at the beautiful houses that surround the stadium, we felt pretty secure in our parking selection. While chatting with the Pioneer fans, we learned that, with the exception of two small school lots, the only available parking for games is street parking. Heading in to the game, we anticipated a lot of pre-game energy—maybe some face painting, signs to fire up the team, at the very least cheerleaders getting the fans ready to push their team toward a sixth consecutive state championship. Instead, we were greeted with, well, nothing. Memorial Stadium is beautiful! It sits across the street from Reeds Lake, which can be seen from the home side bleachers. The stadium seats approximately 5,000 people and 30 minutes prior to kickoff there were still a plenty of seats available, which only further proved that this was not a rivalry game by any stretch of the imagination. The field sports the artificial multi-toned turf that we have grown accustomed to seeing at the “Ted.” Unlike the “Ted,” there is only one scoreboard with no play clocks to be found. The field is recessed—surrounded by brick and a two-level press box, giving the stadium a collegiate feel. As we walked around the stadium to build up our appetites, we ventured inside a small enclosed shed that acted as a bookstore, selling all kinds of EGR gear—great idea for fundraising! The main concession stand is near the primary entrance […]
By Drew Kerr And Dave Mitchells Editor’s note: Football fans can now enjoy coverage of our local sports in a whole new way. Former Rockford football players Drew Kerr and Dave Mitchells bring you Friday Night Lights Experience in which they will share their impressions of the venues Rams visit during the football season. Enjoy! Every night and every day we awake to the same consistent message from the media. It’s bad news, whether it’s the economy in turmoil, or the resounding thump of some other bad event, the media, twitter, google or whatever the source seems to bring it to us. With so much bad news it’s hard to remember the good sometimes. But not this time. It’s Friday and with every fall we have one consistent feeling that we all like—football, baby! Are you ready for some football? The weather is changing, the grass is being cut, the fields are lined and the ball is kicked. We are bringing you Friday Night Lights Experience and we are going to help you find the place you need to be each Friday night of the football season. Each and every week this season we’ll be looking out for you and where you need to be to see the Friday Night Lights Experience. We will pick the game of the week, and its not just the teams playing that make the game but the whole experience. We’ll rate the atmosphere of the crowds, the pride of the student body, the menus for the concession stands and oh yeah, the teams playing. And with that, we’ll be able to tell you who has what it takes to make the FNLE. That being said, this week’s pick is the Rockford Rams vs. the Lowell Red Arrows game. These two powerhouses haven’t met in almost four decades and they are going to strap their chinstraps on for a head-to-head battle of bragging rights. There is no other place to be but Lowell and by the way, it’s a Thursday game due to the holiday schedule. So prepare yourself for a year of excitement and experience as we give you the Friday Night Lights Experience!