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 […]
Rockford Rams Football Team
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 […]
The Rockford Rams football team will be holding the final pop can drive of the season on September 24, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Head Coach Ralph Munger expects good effort and a strong finish. Players will be doing their part to raise money for their program by collecting cans, trying to meet the budget. As an important member of the team, the Rockford community traditionally does its part to make this endeavor a success. Ways to help include: • Contact a Ram football player near you, or text your address before date of drive to (616) 799-4904 for pick-up. A confirmation text will be sent to you before pick-up. • Ric’s Food Center is once again joining the effort and is providing a drop-off container near the bottle return. • Swing by D&W Fresh Market in Rockford on the day of the drive and bring us your cans or jump in and lend a hand sorting.
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 […]
by TIM COOPER Not since 2002 had the Rockford Rams lost two games in a row. Rockford hadn’t gone 0-2 to start a season since 1978. Only four times since 1950 have they dropped the first two games of the year. After a week one loss to Lowell, and the perennial state power Holt Rams coming to town, it appeared avoiding that fate would be a daunting task. In the previous five games, Rockford had gone 3-2 against Holt, defeating Holt 27-24 last year in a tremendous come-from-behind effort. With the opening kickoff, Rockford’s special teams took control of the game. Using their “starburst” kick return, Brandon Lubenow raced 96 yards for the first score of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, a Holt fumble returned the ball to Rockford on the 11-yard line. One play later, Ryan Hartley broke through the Holt defense for a touchdown, giving Rockford a 14-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game. After a Holt punt, Rockford drove 50 yards on eight plays, capped off by Connor Darby’s 5-yard run, making the score 21-0. Holt’s bright spot in the first half came when Rockford fumbled a punt reception at their own 49-yard line. The visitors finished the drive early in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Justin Alleman. For much of the second quarter, the two teams exchanged drives with each other, until Rockford quarterback Kyle Short found Lubenow open in the end zone to extend the lead by seven. The score remained 28-7 as the two teams headed into the locker rooms for halftime. The second half opened with an 80-yard Holt drive that ended when Rockford’s KC Zenner recovered a fumble in the end zone to out the ball back in Short’s hands. When Rockford was forced to punt on the following drive, kicker Steve Mette’s punt pinned Holt deep into their own territory. After Holt drove to midfield, Dylan Rodriguez recovered a fumble to give the ball back to Rockford’s offense. Darby, who had 29- and 11-yard runs in the following series, also finished the drive by taking the ball five yards for a touchdown. Mette’s extra point made the score 35-7. Rockford’s final score of the evening came when running back […]