Six players sign letters of intent for college Six Rockford Rams football players were among athletes who signed letters of intent with the college or university of their choice at Celebration Cinema Wednesday, Jan. 31. The National Letter of Intent Day is the traditional day for athletes to make the commitment to continue their athletic career after their high school days are complete. For Rockford, kicker Steve Mette will play for Hillsdale College along with quarterback Mark LaPrairie. Ben Braden, Rockford’s six-foot, seven-inch and 320-pound offensive tackle, will be Rockford Coach Ralph Munger’s first Big Ten recruit, as he signed to play at the University of Michigan. Linebacker Anthony DeDamos and tight end Aaron Weston both head to Wayne State University. Linebacker Matt Boonstra will continue his athletic and academic career at Northern Michigan University. Coach Munger was understandably proud of all the Rockford players and praised the talent they have contributed to the Rams team.
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 […]
The Rams didn’t have anyone get drafted in the MLB draft this year. It’s not that they didn’t have talent—they certainly did. But they didn’t rely on the pitcher who throws 90+ or the hitter who hit 20 homeruns. What they did have was a never-give-up attitude, a mantra of GBED (Get Better Every Day) and inspiration in the form of an 11-year-old boy. Coach’s son, Ian Hearn Jr., had to have two heart surgeries as the Rams prepared to go into the playoffs. It was a source of inspiration as they resolved to win for Ian Junior. And win they did. The Rams worked their way through the districts, regionals, quarterfinals and semifinals until they got to the title game and won the state championship—a first for Rockford baseball. Thankfully, the surgeries for Ian Junior were successful as well. There wasn’t any one player who carried the team on their back. It was a total team effort from day one. The Rams had adversity and distractions along the way, but worked through them like a true family. The guidance and instruction from the coaching staff allowed the team to stay focused and on track to accomplish what had not previously been done at Rockford. In a school the size of Rockford, playing in the tough OK Red conference, it’s hard to believe there would be freshmen mature and talented enough to be part of a state championship-caliber varsity team. Kory Young is one such player. Young could have stayed at the junior varsity level and received more playing time, but chose to stay at varsity and gain valuable experience that will certainly serve him well in the years to come. He batted .333 and was a great utility player when the Rams needed him. He will certainly be one of the bright spots in the future for Ram baseball. Two other freshmen were pulled up for the playoffs: Reid Kelley and Brent Showers. Kelley is a fireballing right-handed pitcher and will likely be a big part of future Ram success. He gained some valuable experience and will no doubt be looked to as a team leader in the years to come. Showers’ situation was a bit different. Tony DiLeo, the junior everyday catcher, was […]