Rockford defense shines as offense explodes by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER According to Head Coach Ralph Munger, when the Rams have a good week in practice, things go well in the game. The Rams had a good week in practice last week. Rockford took little time asserting their dominance over Grand Ledge in the district final on Friday, Nov. 4. Prior to Friday night’s contest, no team had scored more than 17 points against the Comets. Rockford put up 21 in the first quarter. Ram quarterback Mark LaPrairie had a hand in two of the three touchdowns, the first a 19-yard bootleg around the right end to put the Rams up 7-0 just 1:39 into the game. His second touchdown came with 33 seconds remaining in the quarter, when he found tight end Aaron Weston wide open in the Comets’ secondary. Sandwiched between the two LaPrairie touchdowns was a 3-yard drive by Brady Gent. The Ram defense did their part by limiting Grand Ledge to one first down in the first half, while preventing the Comets from crossing the 50-yard line. This allowed the offense to work with a short field for the majority of the half. LaPrairie added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, both of them through the air, as LaPrairie connected twice with Justin Wustman, once for 52 yards and again for 54 yards. Wustman showed great focus on the second reception, making a circus-catch off of a Grand Ledge defender’s helmet before turning around to carry the ball into the end zone. The second half started with the Rams up by 35. Under MHSAA rule, when one team leads by 35 or more in the second half, the clock only stops for scoring plays, timeouts, penalties or an injury. On incomplete passes or plays where the ball is taken out of bounds, the clock doesn’t stop like it normally does. Since Rockford maintained that gap for the majority of the second half, the running clock aided in speeding the game to an early finish. LaPrairie’s fifth touchdown on the night came on an 11-yard pass to Connor Darby. The Rams’ quarterback went 8-11 on the night, with 220 yards, and four passing touchdowns to go with his one rushing […]
Rockford Rams Football
Rams defeat West Ottawa for second time by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER With the grueling OK Red conference schedule in the rearview mirror, the Rockford Rams began their drive to a state championship on Friday, Oct. 28. The 8-1 Rams’ first opponent in the MHSAA Division I football playoffs would be the 6-3 Panthers of West Ottawa High School. The two teams met in week four of the regular season, when Rockford defeated the Panthers 41-16. The Rams’ opening possession started at the West Ottawa 46, following a fair catch interference penalty on the kickoff. Rockford’s powerful running attack tore through the Panther defense, with Brady Gent running the final yard for a Ram touchdown. Steve Mette’s extra point gave Rockford an early 7-0 lead. Following the kickoff, West Ottawa went on a 15-play march down the field. The Panthers, typically a pass-oriented team, used a ground attack to move the ball down field, before the Ram defense stiffened, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field goal from the Rockford seven-yard line. Mette put the Rams up by seven again with a 34-yard field goal of his own to cap off a 7:42 drive by the Ram offense. West Ottawa proved their quick strike capability when quarterback Trevor VanTubbergen found wide receiver Ato Condelee for a 30-yard touchdown pass, making the score 10-10 with 5:06 left in the first half. VanTubbergen ended the night 8-11 with 72 yards and one touchdown. With just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Rockford defense forced a fumble at the Panther 42. The Rams took advantage of the mistake by the Panthers when five plays later, Gent broke through the West Ottawa defense for his second touchdown of the night. Gent finished the night with 115 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Both defenses stepped up in the second half, with neither team scoring. With the 17-10 victory, the Rams advance to the district finals, where they will face CAAC Blue champion Grand Ledge. The Comets advanced by defeating Grand Haven 21-14. The two teams will face off at the Ted this Friday night at 7 p.m.
The fairest Fourth of July in recent memory had many soaking up the sun and sipping on cold beverages… Wait! Hold on to those cans! A Rockford Ram football player near you wants to take it off your hands. The Rams football team will be holding two pop can drives: July 30 and September 24, from 10:30 until noon. Head Ram Can Man, Ralph Munger, expects good effort from his players on and off the field. Players will be doing their part to raise money for their program by scouring neighborhoods, collecting cans and trying to top last year’s total. As an important member of the team, the Rockford community traditionally does its part to make this endeavor a success. Ways to help this year 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 before pick up. • Ric’s Food Center is also joining the effort this year and is providing a drop-off container near the bottle return July 18-30. • Swing by the Rockford D&W on the day of the drive and bring your cans or jump in and lend a hand sorting.
Rams fall in semifinals Last-second touchdown ends Rockford’s season by TIM COOPER With 1:39 seconds remaining in the game, Rockford quarterback Mark LaPrairie saw Neil VanderLaan racing toward the end zone. With the Rams trailing 13-10 to the Plymouth Wildcats, LaPrairie threw into double coverage. As VanderLaan did many times this season, he out-jumped the defenders, tallying his 13th touchdown reception of the season. The Ram faithful had their first celebration of the afternoon, a celebration that would change to devastation just 69 seconds later, when Plymouth quarterback Shaun Austin found his go-to receiver Brennan Beyer in the back of the end zone for the final score of the day, giving the Wildcats a 20-17 advantage with 4.7 seconds remaining on the clock. Most of the season, Rockford Coach Ralph Munger spoke of trying to get off of page one of his playbook. During the second half, Munger finally turned the page, using a play on which LaPrairie handed the ball to Brandon Lubenow, who pitched the ball to VanderLaan, who then tossed the ball across the field and back to LaPrairie. LaPrairie spotted Landon Dubes all alone at the Plymouth 20-yard line. Dubes pulled down the perfect pass and walked untouched into the end zone, pulling the Rams to within three points. As they had done most of the afternoon, the Ram defense stopped the Wildcats on drive after drive, keeping the hope alive. With big hits by Brett Egnatuk and Anthony DeDamos, the Rockford defense showed Plymouth that they had come to play. Linebackers Egnatuk and Tyler Pratt disrupted the Wildcats’ run game, forcing Plymouth to pass the ball. When Plymouth quarterback Austin dropped back to pass, the Ram defensive line forced him to scramble time and time again. The strong defensive play allowed the time that was needed for the Ram offense to get into sync, leading up to the go-ahead touchdown in the late stages of the game. However, it all changed on the Wildcats’ last possession. After the kickoff, Plymouth went 83 yards on 10 plays in just 1:09; the final play being Beyer’s game-winning touchdown reception. “Obviously, Beyer is an outstanding athlete,” said Munger. “[Austin] made a heck of a throw, and he made a great catch, with two […]