In racing out to a 5-0 record this season Rockford has reached the point where they hoped and expected to be. It hasn’t been easy the last two weeks against probably the two biggest rivals the Rams play annually. First was a double overtime 53-46 victory over Grandville and then came a 21-16 triumph over Hudsonville this past week. Teams are adjusting defensively to try and limit the big plays Rockford seems to pull off on a regular basis. It has worked on a limited basis as the Rams have still really only been slowed down when they commit multiple turnovers as they did against Hudsonville last Friday.
But there have been some deficiencies exposed on the defensive side of the ball for Rockford over the last two contests. First it was Grandville repeatedly gouging Rockford on the ground and then it was Hudsonville hitting on multiple big pass plays in the first half of Friday’s battle. But the Rams were far stingier in the second half as they welcomed back starting safety Sam Watts after he had missed the previous three contests.
Next up for the Rams is a game that has all of the appearances of a breather for Rockford as they will make the trek to Jenison on Friday, October 1 to take on a 1-4 Wildcat team. But the record is somewhat deceptive as the Wildcats played a ranked Forest Hills Central team very competitively before falling 29-14 and had two other games come down to the wire before losing to Grand Haven 28-26 and Hudsonville 23-22. The Hudsonville contest in particular was galling as the Wildcats missed a chip shot field goal on the last play of the game to come up just short. Buit they were soundly beaten this past week as a resurgent Grandville team pounded them to the tune of a 49-8 victory.
“Jenison is a big, physical football team and really gave us a lot of trouble last year,” said Rockford Coach Brent Cummings. “Our timing has been off on both sides of the ball the last few weeks and that is something we really need to work on going forward.”
The Wildcats are one of only a few teams that are longtime rivals of the Rams who hold an edge in the all-time series. The Wildcats have 23 wins versus the 22 that Rockford has rung up. Last year saw the Rams rally late to claim a thrilling 16-13 win in overtime and extend their winning streak to nine in a row against Jenison. The last Wildcat win came by a score of 19-14 in 2005.
The Wildcats are led by quarterback Carter VanManen and running back Caleb Dean for an offense that averages about 21 points a game. The defense had been fairly solid over the first four games before being trampled by Grandville last week. They allow just over 26 points per game.
Rockford will counter with do everything senior quarterback Zak Ahern and a bevy of talented running backs and receivers featured in their dangerous spread offense. The Rams are averaging a hair over forty points per contest while surrendering a shade under 20.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. on Friday, October 1 at Jenison.