Matt Weaver

Rams football falls to Detroit Catholic Central

November 24, 2011 // 0 Comments

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 […]

Rockford football crushes Jenison

October 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rams carry eight-game win streak into the playoffs  by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER A small crowd braved the cold temperatures on Friday, Oct. 21, as the Rockford Rams battled the Wildcats of Jenison in the final football game of the 2011 regular season. Even temperatures in the 30s weren’t enough to cool off the red hot Rams, whose defense had only allowed 14 points in the previous three games. Points would be at a premium for Jenison, a team that had averaged only 15 points per game through the first eight games this season. The Rockford defense limited the Wildcats to only 115 yards of total offense, while the Rams gained a total of 359 yards on the night. “Randy VanderVeen and the defensive staff do a wonderful job putting together a game plan,” said Coach Ralph Munger. “The type of offense Jenison runs can be difficult to defend.” The Rams’ defense helped their offense by giving them a short field consistently throughout the night. Rockford’s first score of the night came on a four-yard plunge by Connor Darby into the end zone after a 46-yard drive. The second touchdown came following a 40-yard drive when Mark LaPrairie hit Justin Wustman with an 18-yard pass, putting the Rams up 14-0. The Rockford offense left the door open for Jenison by turning the ball over on each of their next two possessions, but the Ram defenders slammed the door each time, forcing the Wildcats to punt. Rockford’s next possession started on their own 18-yard line, a drive that saw the Rams travel 82 yards in only four plays. Darby opened the series with a 34-yard dash to the Ram 42-yard line. Three plays later, Brandon Lubenow finished the series with a 51-yard touchdown romp through the Jenison defense. The Rams had two more possessions in the first half—the first a 48-yard drive that showed balance as the Rams passed on three of the seven plays. The final play was a 13-yard touchdown run by Ryan Hartley. Rockford’s final drive of the first half was a 38-yard series, ending with Lubenow carrying the ball 12 yards for a touchdown, putting the Rams up by 35 at halftime. The Lubenow touchdown, his second of the night, capped […]

Rams varsity football improves to 3-1

September 22, 2011 // 0 Comments

Defense shines in first half  by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER  Ryan Hartley darts around the end of the offensive line. Hartley scored two touchdowns Friday night. Photo by JIM COOPER An undefeated West Ottawa Panthers football team paid a visit to the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 16, to face the Rams in a highly anticipated matchup between the two OK Red teams. A balanced offensive attack, led by Trevor VanTubbergan, effectively moved the ball down field on the Panthers’ opening drive. However, a Rockford interception by Shane Showers at the 10-yard line put an end to the series. Three plays later, West Ottawa was back in control of the ball on the Rams’ 8-yard line following a Rockford fumble. The Panthers were forced to kick a 26-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Rockford’s first score of the night was set up when KC Zenner raced 62 yards on the following kick return. A 50-yard field goal by Steve Mette tied the score when the Rams’ drive was stalled on the West Ottawa 33-yard line. The stout Rockford defense prevented West Ottawa from scoring again for the remainder of the first half. Late in the first half, the Rams’ offense found its footing as well, when Mark LaPrairie hit Brandon Lubenow on fourth down. Lubenow split the Panthers’ defense for 41 yards and a touchdown with just five seconds remaining in the half. Quarterback Mark LaPrairie is lifted up by his teammates before the game. During the game, it was LaPrairie who helped to lift his team to victory.   Photo by JIM COOPER “We could have buried ourselves in the first half,” said Coach Ralph Munger. “Maybe it was a bad game plan on my part, but that touchdown was huge.” The Rams opened the second half with a 10-3 lead and the ball. An 85-yard drive was capped by Ryan Hartley’s 2-yard plunge into the end zone. After the Rams’ defense forced West Ottawa to go three-and-out, Hartley scored his second touchdown on a 10-yard run, giving Rockford a 24-3 lead. Rockford’s next score came only eight plays later when Mette hit a 52-yard field goal. “I feel very comfortable with Steve from the 33-yard line in,” Munger said […]

Rams halt Buccaneers

September 15, 2011 // 0 Comments

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 […]

Rams lose football opener to Lowell

September 1, 2011 // 0 Comments

Injuries hamper team’s efforts  by JIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER The last time the Rockford Rams and the Lowell Red Arrows met on the gridiron, it was November 9, 1973. The country was being rocked by the Watergate scandal. Memories of the Vietnam War were fresh in the nation’s minds. The number one song in America was Eddie Kendricks’ “Keep On Truckin’.” High school football was still decades from being the phenomenon we know today. Rockford and Lowell combined for a total of just 105 wins in the previous 10 years. Flash forward to August 25, 2011, and you have a game that was touted as the top opening game in Michigan. The two schools have now won over 200 games in the last decade, with three state titles apiece in the same span. Fans from both sides had been clamoring for this game and, finally, after 38 years, the two teams collided once more. Emotions were high at Bob Perry Field in Lowell as the two teams took the field. After deferring the opening kickoff, the Rams were successful in containing the Red Arrow’s explosive dual-threat quarterback Gabe Dean on the opening possession of the game. However, a Lowell fumble recovery on Rockford’s first play from scrimmage put the ball back in the hands of the elite player. Three plays later, Dean ran for 20 yards to the end zone, with the extra point putting the Red Arrows up 7-0. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Dean made the Rams pay for a second lost fumble, allowing Lowell to take a 14-0 lead within the first eight minutes of the game. After the two teams swapped possessions for the remainder of the first quarter and the first six minutes of the second, Dean struck again, this time with a 26-yard touchdown pass. Trailing by 21, Rockford’s Connor Darby managed to break loose on the ensuing kickoff, taking the ball into the Red Arrows’ end zone. However, the play was called back due to an illegal handoff on the Rams’ tried and true starburst kickoff return formation. The following drive ended with Rockford’s Mark LaPrairie hobbling off the field with help from the trainer. The senior quarterback suffered a dislocated toe that kept him out of action for […]