On December 7th, Isaac Toole, an 11 year old 6th grader at East Rockford Middle School, won the State Championship for the NFL’s Punt, Pass & Kick contest at Ford Field in Detroit. Isaac’s score ended up being the best score in the nation and qualified him for the National Championship in the 10 and 11 year old division. Isaac’s score broke the previous state record for his age group. This year’s NFL’s Punt, Pass & Kick National Championship is being held in Seattle, Washington on Saturday, January 10th. Isaac and the other finalists will compete for the championship at the Seattle Seahawks’ practice facility prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers. The game begins at 8:15 p.m. EST. Isaac and the other national finalists will be announced at halftime of the game and will compete in a passing exhibition in front of the 70,000 fans. Fox television will have a live announcement of the National Champions between the third and fourth quarters of the game. For more information, visit the official NFL PP&K website at http://www.nflppk.com/competitions/results/team_championships. Michael S. Shibler, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools
Bruce Turner was about as behind the scenes as it was possible to be when it came to his contributions to the athletic programs at Rockford High School. He was rarely seen or heard but his efforts kept the Rams on the cutting edge of video work over the past 25 years. That incredibly valuable aspect of a successful team was finally silenced on Friday, January 9th when Mr. Turner passed away unexpectedly at the age of 68. “Bruce was involved in our football program in just about every aspect it was possible to be involved,” said Rockford Football Coach Ralph Munger. “He taped preseason conditioning, our trips to Roscommon, 7 on 7s, team camps, youth camps and every game and practice as well as anything else he felt was necessitated . He was very creative and was far ahead of the times when it came to his use of that valuable tool for the team’s success. He also did wrestling and basketball at various times for Rockford. All of his efforts will be impossible to replace as a whole and he will be dearly missed.” Turner was also described as a “patriot” by Munger, who noted that whenever the National Anthem was played “Bruce was always the first to come to attention and maintain a professional countenance for the song’s duration.” Turner was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and served his country proudly in the Vietnam War. Although he was not an employee of Rockford Public Schools, it would be difficult to imagine anyone not employed by the schhol district who so selflessly devoted his time for the betterment of any team. Turner and Munger collaborated together in the television studio at RHS to put together highlights and very motivational tapes for the team and coaches. For every one minute of tape that was used Munger estimated that a full hour of production work was necessitated to procure that valuable minute. “None of this ever would have happened if I hadn’t knocked on his door just after I was hired 23 years ago,” said Munger. “I had gotten word that he had done some work for Harvey DeGood so I decided to knock on his door. He answered and the rest was […]
by RANDY GREGORY Having finished off the out of conference portion of their schedule with a 2-2 slate, the Rockford football team looks to defend their OK Red title from last season by journeying to East Kentwood on Friday, September 21st at 7:00 P.M. These two rivals have been squaring off since 1970 and both teams have dominated over different time frames in that span of 43 years. The Falcons won 14 of the first fifteen meetings between the schools. The middle years saw a slight East Kentwood edge and the Rams have won the last nine meetings. The all time record between the Rams and Falcons stands at 22 wins for Rockford and 22 wins for East Kentwood. East Kentwood stands at 2-2 so far this season. The offense hasn’t been an issue in the two wins (40-30 over Grand Ledge and 49-14 over Muskegon Reeths-Puffer) but the defense has in the losses (23-12 to East Grand Rapids and 45-14 to Forest Hills Central). “They are a very quick team offensively,” said Rockford coach Ralph Munger. “They look to use their speed and get outside your contain men. We will need all eleven players to do their jobs on every play defensively. Every game in the OK Red is a challenge and this one will not be an exception.” On the injury front, the Rams still have their share of concerns four games into the season. A quick glance on the sidelines showed at least seven Rams still not in uniform during Friday’s contest at Jenison. Starting quarterback Kyle Short was back in a walking boot after a brief appearance against Muskegon. Dalton Lyons was still out for the Jenison contest and Ethan Lussky has yet to see his first action of the year for a team that has been riddled with an epidemic of injuries all season long. But Munger is hopeful things are taking a turn for the better on that front for the Rams. “Kyle (Short) is still week to week,’ said Munger. “He could be back or he may not make it back yet this week. We are hopeful of getting (Ethan) Lussky on the field for the first time and KC (Zenner) was moving around a bit better this […]
by RANDY GREGORY There was a time in the not too distant past when a Rockford versus Jenison battle on the football field would be an absolute knockdown, drag-out battle. The Rams and Wildcats would trade blow for blow in what would normally be a low scoring and physical battle with OK Red title hopes riding on the outcome. But those days have fallen by the wayside over the last decade. Jenison’s only win against Rockford over the last 11 years was in 2005. Last year’s contest was a 35-0 Rockford win that featured a running clock for the duration of the second half. This once proud program has fallen on tough times recently as evidenced by winning a grand total of 11 games over the last six years. The Wildcats have further suffered the added indignity of having insufficient numbers to even field a junior varsity team this year. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope this season when the Wildcats topped neighborhood rival Grandville in this year’s opener. But the use of an ineligible player necessitated the forfeiture of that contest and Jenison stands at 0-3 so far in this campaign. They followed up the Grandville forfeit with losses to Grand Rapids Northview and Muskegon Reeths Puffer. The Wildcats did bring in a new coach two years ago with the hiring of former Grandville coach Irv Sigler. The number of players in the program have increased over the last few years, but the results will take a while to show up in the win/loss column. Another thing that has changed this year for Jenison is their conference affiliation. The long-time Ottawa Kent Red Conference member has now been shifted to the OK Black along with Muskegon. “I really don’t know a whole lot about Jenison right now,” stated Rockford coach Ralph Munger on Friday after the Muskegon game. “But we will watch some film and be ready to go this Friday. I’m not sure what our injury situation will be, but we will play with whatever hand we are dealt.” Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 at Jenison.
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 […]