Tag Archives: September 15 2011

Day-long suicidal manhunt ends at Healing Fields

by BETH ALTENA

Fifteen rescue units from Cannon Township, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department and Rockford Ambulance are on the scene after a suicidal man led officers on a day-long manhunt, calling from his cell phone and threatening suicide.

Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Roger Zoppa said a man fleeing authorities but calling on his cell phone threatening to kill himself finally gave away his location. The incident began in Grand Rapids Tuesday, Sept. 6, when the man, estranged from his wife, began the calls.

By tracking his cell phone and following clues the suspect offered, police knew the man had left Grand Rapids and was somewhere in Rockford. Zoppa said the Sheriff’s Department took over the hunt as it became apparent the suspect had left Grand Rapids and fled into the county.

“We were using a K-9 unit, tracking him in heavy woods in the Blakely and 7 Mile area,” Zoppa said. “Obviously the dog didn’t know what he was tracking,” he added, noting that in most tracking cases the K-9 has a starting point with scent to follow.

Zoppa said the suspect gave rescuers clues to his location, such as saying he could see a tin roof, but during the hunt refused to reveal his location.

“Some of the cell phones are very accurate, some not so accurate,” Zoppa said. “Sometimes they can pinpoint it right down, others can only tell you the location is between this tower and that one.”

Zoppa said during the hunt, deputies at times thought they had the location narrowed to a two-mile and one-mile radius. Finally the suspect told the authorities that he was at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

While preparations were being made for the West Michigan Healing Fields less than a quarter mile away, first responders converged on the vehicle of the man, who had injured himself badly. According to Zoppa, as rescue units entered the parking lot off the ski area driveway, the man jumped from his vehicle, ran a short distance, then laid down on the grass.

“He had cut his leg pretty badly,” Zoppa said, and said the injury included severing an artery.

Zoppa said the man’s wife indicated that he had acted in a similar manner in the past. The incident ended shortly after 4 p.m. “It was a desperate attempt looking for attention.”

Rams halt Buccaneers

by TIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER

Offensive lineman Ivy Johnson fulfills a lifelong dream by scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter Friday night. Photo by JIM COOPER

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.

Rams KC Zenner and Matt Boonstra team up to tackle the Bucs' Dakota Smith. Photo by JIM COOPER

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 Haven tried to make one last major attempt at a comeback, as Smith scored

KC Zenner takes the ball 75 yards to the end zone on a punt return to give the Rams the lead. Photo by JIM COOPER

his third touchdown of the night with 8:40 remaining in the game. Johnson’s fumble recovery for a touchdown with 4:16 effectively killed the Buccaneers’ hopes, however, as it would have meant Grand Haven needing three scores in just over four minutes to close their 42-23 deficit.

The Buccaneers did manage to score once more, but ran out of time after they recovered the onside kick. The final score was 42-30 in a solid performance for the Rams.

Coach Munger was pleased to see his players step up for the game. “We expected a big game, and we got one. Grand Haven has a great program,” he said.

Friday, Sept. 16, the Rams finish their three-game home stand when the Panthers from West Ottawa come to the Ted.

Quarterback Kyle Short hands off the ball to Brady Gent. Photo by JIM COOPER

 

Rockford Band Invitational to be held this Saturday

The Rockford Marching Band Invitational will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium. Rockford’s band will host the event and perform in exhibition. Directed by Brian Phillips and led by drum majors John DeGuise, Jacob Hewitt, Ross Knoop and Christian Bomer, the Rockford High School (RHS) marching band will present its 2011 program entitled “Reactivity.”

The gates will open at 1 p.m. The invitational will begin with the National Anthem at 2:40 p.m. The RHS marching band will perform in exhibition at 8:25 p.m., to be followed by the awards ceremony. Awards are given for the highest scores in each classification, and bands are ranked within their class. One band will receive the Grand Champion Award.

Entrance fees are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors (age 60 and older), or $20 for a family of four or more. Senior Passes will not be honored, as this is a fundraiser for the band.

Support marching band, win a new car

Members of the Rockford High School marching band pose with the prize, a 2012 Chevy Cruze Photo by DAVID PISZCZEK

You can help the Rockford High School marching band and have a chance to win a 2012 Chevy Cruze! Band parents are selling raffle tickets before the home varsity football games, in front of the stadium, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., and at the Rockford Marching Band Invitational on September 17 from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased at various venues around town where you see the car, or from any band parent. Tickets are $20 apiece, or six for $100. The proceeds from this fundraiser help make the band music programs affordable for all students in grades 6-12. The winning ticket will be drawn during the homecoming game on Friday, October 14.

Two Rockford water polo teams earn perfect records in Shootout

Rockford junior Justin Hulsebus plays tough defense.

The “Shootout at the Shore” water polo tournament took place this past weekend, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10, at pools in Grand Haven and Holland West Ottawa with 16 teams from around the state of Michigan. Rockford men’s water polo sent two teams with a total of 30 polo players to compete at the Shootout. The tournament was divided into four divisions, with the two squads from Rockford each winning their respective flights.

A tremendous amount of polo was played by the squads. The Rockford A team played twice on Friday, finishing their last game at 10:30 p.m. and had to be back at the West Ottawa pool Saturday for a 9:40 a.m. game.

This is the third year for senior Mack Finnie to play in the Shootout. He enjoys the tournament and stated, “I look forward to the Shootout at the Shore, and the amount of polo played allows us the opportunity to work on team chemistry.”

Both Rockford squads played selfless team water polo.

Junior Nick Willison said, “The tournament is a chance for us to work on and strengthen all parts of our team.”

For the Rockford A squad, sophomore Craig Wasberg led the team with 14 steals, and junior Nick Willison led the team in assists with seven. Junior Grant Beach and Wasberg both scored 10 goals to lead the team. Leading the Rockford B squad in scoring was senior Nick Dulak with 13 goals.

Both teams played with intensity and tenacity. The depth and balanced team effort on the squads served Rockford well as they fought their way through opposite brackets in the 16-team pool. Both squads racked up records of 4-0. The perfect records meant that the two squads would have faced off against each other in the tournament finals. In the end, the decision was made to congratulate both teams and not play an inter-squad championship.

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