By Randy Gregory
Michigan Sports Radio
There is usually a game or two that sticks out during the season as potential game of the year showdowns in just about every conference across the country. That time is now for the OK Red as Rockford will host Caledonia at Carlson-Munger Stadium on Friday, October 8. Both teams are 6-0 on the season as well as 4-0 in conference play. Both teams are also highly thought of in state wide polls in their respective classes. Rockford is ranked first in the state in Division 1 and the Fighting Scots come in ranked fourth in Division 2.
The two squads have played decidedly different schedules with one exception however. Rockford squared off with a pair of 5-1 teams in nonleague play in Sterling Heights Stevenson and Cedar Springs (both of the losses suffered by those teams obviously came against Rockford). The Rams have also already squared off with the two other major players in the conference in Grandville and Hudsonville. Caledonia has faced Holt and a down Lowell squad in nonleague play while facing three of the trailing teams in conference play (Grand Haven, East Kentwood and West Ottawa). But the single common foe for the teams has been Grandville. While Rockford struggled mightily with the Dawgs in double overtime before posting a 53-46 win, Caledonia topped them by a 24-14 count while being the only team to shut down the potent Grandville offense.
“Caledonia is obviously playing very well so far,” said Rockford Coach Brent Cummings. “They are a great football team and we now have the opportunity to get to the films and formulate a game plan that will enable us to enjoy some success. It should be a great game between two very good teams.”
The Fighting Scots are coached by first year coach Derrick Pennington, who came over from Zeeland East. Pennington had a solid run there and has carried that success over to Caledonia. Caledonia is averaging 37 points per game while allowing 12 while the Rams are averaging 42 offensively and giving up around 19.
The teams have met only seven times historically and those meetings have occurred in each of the last seven seasons. The first meeting was a resounding Caledonia victory as they pummeled a previously unbeaten Ram squad 42-0. That embarrassing loss seemed to motivate the Rams to never let it happen again as they have reeled off the last six wins consecutively and usually by a decided margin of their own. The average score over the last six years has been 38 to 10 in favor of Rockford. Last year saw the Rams come out on top by a 49-7 count.
While featuring an obviously stingy defense, the Fighting Scots have their own do-it-all weapon at quarterback in Mason McKenzie. The last contest against West Ottawa saw McKenzie rack up 100 yards rushing while going 8 of 9 passing for 170 yards. Brock Townsend is a talented running back as well as an excellent return man (ran back a 94-yard TD against West Ottawa) and sophomore tight end Derrick Pennington, Jr is also a force to be reckoned with.
Rockford counters with Zak Ahern at quarterback who has racked up incredible statistics week after week. Last week saw Ahern account for 518 total yards offensively. The Rams also feature a trio of talented receivers in Tyler Vroman, Alex McLean and Leo Vanderwiel.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. and a massive crowd is anticipated for the game.