Randy Gregory

Team Ram Black and Orange conclude successful summer campaigns

August 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

by RANDY GREGORY Another season of baseball for the two teams comprised entirely of baseball players from Rockford drew to a close recently. Team Ram Black was basically a 16-and-under team filled with players expected to play at the varsity level for the Rams. Team Ram Orange was a 15-and-under team that featured players who will man the freshman and JV squads next year. Team Ram Black ended up with an overall mark of 15 wins and six losses while playing an ambitious schedule that included top 18-and-under travel teams from around the state. They also played games at several beautiful venues that included the baseball stadiums at Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University. The team was coached by varsity assistant Steve Fusee with help from regular head coach Ian Hearn. Fusee handled logistics, scheduling and a lot of the game-time decisions, while Hearn cheerfully stepped aside over the course of the highly successful summer season. “It was another good summer for Rockford baseball,” said Hearn. “It was nice to see the players develop, settle in and get used to competing against some outstanding teams. It was also a treat for them and the coaching staff to have had the opportunity to play at several beautiful college ballparks.” Team Ram Orange was coached by freshman coach Lance Boehm. Junior varsity coach Steve Dengler also moved over to assist while letting Boehm take the reins. Sean O’Rourke offered his expertise while manning the fort for one tourney. The results weren’t quite as glowing for Team Ram Orange from a win-loss perspective, but it was a valuable learning tool for the younger Rams. “We strongly feel a lot of the success we have achieved over the last several years can be attributed to our summer teams,” said Hearn. “We may even have to consider adding a third team soon because of the overwhelming numbers we had show up for some of our games. But that is something we will talk about next year.” The sport of baseball has made tremendous inroads at Rockford High School over the last several seasons, and several Ram players will continue on playing into the fall. Hearn would like to see his players participate in different sports […]

One hundredth year of Ram football draws nigh

August 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

by RANDY GREGORY It is clearly open for debate as to whether or not this is actually year number 100 for Rockford Ram football. There is a pair of years when football wasn’t contested due to various circumstances. But 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the inaugural season for what has truly become a community-wide celebration. Fall is ever so faintly in the air following a scorching and arid summer, and several harbingers of the gridiron time of year have started or are about to begin. Rockford kicked off two-a-day practices this Monday, and Coach Ralph Munger and his veteran and wily coaching staff welcome yet another strong contingent to the football field. The Rams’ varsity roster numbers 41 seniors, 30 juniors and a pair of sophomores. There are also well over 50 players on both the junior varsity and freshman teams to go along with the normal horde of 78ers at the two middle schools. There are several other events on the immediate horizon that true aficionados of Rockford football will want to take note of. First on the docket is picture day, which will be held at the high school next Tuesday, August 14 at noon. That will be followed by the preseason scrimmage at 10 a.m. the next day (Wed.) at Byron Center High School. The other teams taking part include Byron Center, Portage Central and Charlotte. The JV and frosh squads will have their preseason scrimmage the succeeding day (Thur.) at 10 a.m. at Rockford against the same trio of squads. And last, but certainly not least, is the highly anticipated “Hots and Brats Night” on Friday, August 17. On that occasion family pictures are slated for 4:45 p.m., a team practice session takes place at 5:30, and the cookout itself is scheduled to commence at 6:30. Rockford fans and members of the community are strongly encouraged to attend all of these events and show their support for these hardworking players and coaches. All of this is merely a series of warm-ups for the actual start of the 2012 campaign. For the second straight year it will feature the Rams against the Red Arrows of Lowell, but this time the venue will be Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium and Rockford will […]

Rule changes beckon for 2012 football season

August 9, 2012 // 0 Comments

by RANDY GREGORY With the start of the varsity football season less than three weeks away, the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced there will be several rule changes that will take effect at the onset of the season. The changes range from relatively minor uniform specifications to several potentially game-deciding modifications. The changes are stated as follows: • On passing plays, a receiver must first contact and establish control of the ball while inbounds, regardless of the opponent’s action. In other words, a catch cannot be ruled on plays where the receiver may have come down in bounds if not for the action of the defender. • If a player’s helmet comes off during a play, and did not occur as a result of a foul by the opponent, that player must leave the game for one play, unless it happens on the final play of a half or an overtime. • Hand contact by a blocker below the waist of a defender is now considered blocking below the waist. • The kicking team may not contact a member of receiving team on a kickoff until the ball has traveled 10 yards, or unless a member of the receiving team initiates the contact. • Jerseys of the visiting team must be white in color, and home jerseys are restricted in the use of white for varsity competition. This was a rule change made in 2007 for implementation this season. The pass possession rule now mirrors that of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Only one foot is necessary to remain inbounds while maintaining possession, but the referee’s judgment is now rendered moot as to whether or not the receiver would have come down inbounds. The new blocking rules will modify any contact initiated by the offense below the waist. And the kickoff rules will make a drastic change in the amount of contact on onside kickoffs. The change related to a helmet coming off that necessitates a player’s removal from the game for at least one play is also a situation that could alter a team’s offensive or defensive play calling for a possible drive. All the rules, save for the uniform specification and pass possession changes, are being imposed with player safety as their […]

Lubenow to play football at Ferris State

August 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

by RANDY GREGORY Brandon Lubenow, a 2012 Rockford graduate, became the latest Ram football player to finalize his plans for the upcoming season. After traveling to Big Rapids to meet with new Bulldog Coach Tony Annese recently, Lubenow strutted his stuff and left with an invitation to become a member of this year’s Ferris State University (FSU) squad. “Coach Annese was a very personable and funny guy, and he felt I had the talent to compete at that level after watching me go through some drills,” said Lubenow. “I have put on about twenty pounds since last season at Rockford and have been able to maintain my speed. Coach Annese said they will line me up as a slot receiver and see what I can bring to the table.” Lubenow played primarily as a wide receiver for the Rams, but also saw some time as a defensive back. He saved his best game of the year for the final game of the 2011 season. In that contest the Rams lost in overtime to Detroit Catholic Central (DCC) in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I semifinals. The stout Shamrock defense and several untimely injuries to Rockford running backs forced the Rams to the air. Lubenow and Ram quarterback Mark LaPrairie repeatedly torched the DCC defense with a deft passing attack and, despite coming up three points short in the extra session, the duo left all in attendance marveling at their exploits. Rockford Coach Ralph Munger said that the difference in Lubenow physically is striking and feels he has a chance to be a difference maker for the Bulldogs. “Brandon came out to our quarterback clinic and really looked good catching some passes from the QBs that were there,” said Munger. “He is a lot thicker and looked at least as quick as he was last season for us. He has always had the potential and I think that Ferris State is getting a highly motivated young man who can make some plays for them.” Lubenow will have a couple of familiar faces in Big Rapids when he arrives there on August 7. Former Ram quarterbacks Robert Banaszak and Taylor Masiewicz are both members of the team this year as well. He is also no […]

Team Ram Black continues stellar summer play

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by RANDY GREGORY The Rockford baseball program has achieved unparalleled success in recent seasons (including a state championship in 2011). One of the pillars that the team’s success has been predicated on is the summer program that nearly every Ram freshman, sophomore and junior from last season participates in. The teams are separated into two different age groups with Team Ram Black being primarily a 16-and-under team and Team Ram Orange being comprised of mostly 15-and-under players. Team Ram Black has played 18 games so far and has amassed an overall record of 12-6. The team won their own tournament to kick off summer play and has played in various venues including the baseball stadiums at Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University. Team Ram Black has toppled state powers including the Michigan Red Sox, Lakes Dodgers, Lansing #205, Kalamazoo Maroons and Elite Baseball. “We are very pleased with the success of the team so far this summer,” said Rockford head baseball coach Ian Hearn (who is the assistant coach for Steve Fusee on Team Ram Black). “We have played several 19-and-under teams that have as many as eight college players on the roster and held our own. We have seen a lot of growth from both a physical and mental perspective from all of our players while competing against some very talented competition.” Fielding a roster of players solely from one school is not the recommended path to achieving consistent success in summer baseball tourney play. Most summer teams field players from multiple high schools, who are the cream of the crop of their various programs. But Rockford has followed their formula for several years now and more than acquitted themselves decently. The team has bonded not only in the camaraderie generated from spending time together, but also in becoming accustomed to the habits and tendencies of current and future teammates on the diamond. Team Ram Black is also occasionally hampered by having several of their players participating on other elite travel teams that may periodically conflict with their schedule. But that is no big deal, according to Hearn. “We are always trying to compete and win whenever we take the field,” said Hearn. “But that isn’t what we are […]

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