By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio
Rockford and Grandville squared off in week four of the 2021 football campaign and what transpired in Grandville that evening was nonstop entertainment for all of the fans lucky enough to be there. At various times in both regulation and the two subsequent overtimes both teams appeared poised to claim victory. But in the end, it was the Rams who escaped with a 53-46 victory in what was surely the closest the Rams came to dropping a contest this year.
Now everyone gets the opportunity to watch a reprise of that thriller in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 District finals at Rockford on Friday, November 5. The venue has changed, since the earlier game was at Grandville, but both teams are on a serious roll with extended winning streaks and a large helping of momentum. Rockford will enter the contest with a record of 10-0 and has outscored the opposition by an average of 40 to 15.6 thus far. Grandville comes in at 7-3, but that includes a winning streak of six consecutive games. Their last loss was against the Rams. At one point the Dawgs were 1-3 and facing a large uphill battle in their hopes of procuring a playoff spot. But what had to be factored in was the quality of the teams those three defeats came to. Glenbard West is one of the top teams in Illinois, while Rockford was 10-0 and Caledonia finished 9-1 (with their only loss coming to the Rams). The Bulldogs average 41.3 points while surrendering 20.6.
“This is a game that everyone has been looking forward to,” said Rockford Coach Brent Cummings. “Grandville is an outstanding football team and will bring everything they have to the table this week. But so will we, and we will just have to see how things turn out. It will be a very physical game and a challenge for both teams to try and come out on top. We are very excited to welcome them to Rockford this time.”
Grandville is led by senior running back Cade Pilczuk and senior quarterback Ian Sanders. Grandville piled up over 450 yards of offense in the first contest and tossed in a kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play of the game. Pilczuk had an amazing total of 301 yards on the ground as the Dawgs repeatedly burned Rockford with an aggressive counter attack that caught them off guard. Rockford had over 300 yards of offense on the night but always found themselves with a short field as they continuously started drives in Grandville territory after a string of long kickoff and punt returns. The Rams are paced by their outstanding senior quarterback Zak Ahern and a quartet of excellent receivers in Tyler Vroman, Alex McLean, Mac VandenHout and Leo VanderWiel.
The Rams lead the all-time series between the two schools by the count of 45-31. Rockford has won the last three games between the teams including a 28-8 regular season win last year and a 34-28 triple overtime affair in last years playoffs. Grandville last tasted victory against Rockford in 2019 as they trounced a previously unbeaten Ram team 30-3.
The Bulldogs are coached by Eric Stiegel, who has turned around the school’s fortunes after a prolonged period of stagnant performance. Stiegel has led the team to a record of 41-19 in the last six years and playoff appearances in seven of the last eight years. Cummings is in just his second year for the Rams after taking over for coaching legend Ralph Munger. Cummings carries an overall record of 18-1 over those two seasons and led Rockford to last year’s semifinals.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. and a huge crowd is anticipated along with a promising weather forecast for that day.