By Randy Gregory:
Rams prepare for East Kentwood as OK Red play begins
For the third consecutive week Rockford will host a home game to kick off the 2021 football season. But unlike the first two games (nonleague affairs), this time around the Rams will kick off the OK Red regular season. Each and every game of the nine-game regular season slate carries equal weight in determining playoff positioning for the Rams. But in order to achieve all of their preseason goals the biggest initial quest is to win the conference.
The opponent will be long-time rival East Kentwood. The rivalry could hardly be any tighter as the Rams hold a 27-26 edge in head-to- head battles. The two schools have met every season since 1970 (save for the Covid-19 induced 2020 season when the Rams were forced to sit that game out as EK played an alternate opponent). There have also been three instances when the two teams met for a second time in the playoffs. The Rams hold a 2-1 lead in those three games. But the last playoff meeting in 2019 is one the Rams would rather forget about. Rockford had topped the Falcons 17-7 in the final game of the regular season and as luck would have it, they were slated to meet the following week in the opening round of the Division 1 playoffs. That contest was totally dominated by the Falcons in every facet as they pummeled the Rams 38-12 to bring an end to a streak of the Rams winning at least one playoff game for 16 consecutive seasons.
But this version of East Kentwood football has endured two consecutive beatings to kick off the 2021 campaign. The Falcons lost their opener to Muskegon 47-7 and their second contest to Birmingham Brother Rice 33-0. Their only score thus far came on a touchdown pass with just over five minutes remaining in the game against the Big Reds and they only managed 112 yards against the Warriors for the contest while allowing four long touchdown passes.
The Falcons will regularly line up seven men in the box defensively and challenge you to beat them with the passing game. Unfortunately for the Falcons that tactic proved to be their demise against Brother Rice. Rockford has proven to be effective with equal aplomb both on the ground and through the air thus far this season.
The Falcons do not field the individual talent they have had over the last several seasons. They have sent multiple players to schools such as Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin over the last few seasons. They have also sent a fair share of players to NCAA Division 2 schools in that time frame as well. By all appearances this is a rebuilding year for them and their outstanding coach Tony Kimbrough. But rest assured that they would like nothing better than to right the ship against Rockford this week.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. on Friday, September 10 at Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford. The first two Ram home contests have featured huge crowds and this week promises more of the same as Rockford looks to move to 3-0 on the season.