By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio
After running the gauntlet of Grandville, Hudsonville, Jenison and Caledonia, Rockford will look to move to 8-0 on the season and 6-0 in the OK Red when they host Holland West Ottawa on Friday, October 15. Fresh off a thrilling 17-14 win over an impressive Caledonia team before a packed house (and statewide TV audience on Bally Sports) at Carlson-Munger Stadium the Rams will face somewhat of a different challenge when the Panthers come calling. That challenge is the feeling of complacency and overconfidence.
West Ottawa is a team stuck in the doldrums of a 24-game losing streak. After advancing to the final eight teams in Division 1 in 2017, (before squandering a big lead and losing to the eventual state champions from Clarkston) the Panthers were 6-2 in 2018 before losing their final two games. They followed that up by going 0-9 in 2019, 0-6 in 2020 and have lost their first seven games thus far in 2021. Former Head Coach Ryan Oshnock resigned following the 2020 campaign and moved on to Northview.
The Panthers then made a major hire when they lured Pat Collins from Montague to take the helm at West Ottawa. Collins had a stellar record at Montague that included three state championships in his 17 years at the helm of the Wildcats. They were perennial contenders for winning it all and regular qualifiers for the playoffs.
But Collins has found the step up in level of play and lethargy surrounding the program and its’ struggles to be far from an instant fix in his inaugural season. The Panthers have been outscored by an average of 35-14 so far this season and are coming off of a 35-7 loss to Jenison. The real highlight of the season thus far was putting up 22 points against Caledonia’s vaunted defense.
For their part, Rockford is averaging about 39 points per game while allowing around 18. Rockford leads the all-time series 42-12-1. Rockford won twice last year by a score of 33-23 in the regular season and 41-7 in the playoffs. By all appearances the game is a colossal mismatch but the Panthers gave Rockford all they could handle during last year’s regular season tilt.
This game will mark the final regular season home contest for Rockford and kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. Rockford will then close out the regular season with a trip to Grand Haven on Friday, October 22.