By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio
There are 64 teams left in the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs. In those 32 games there is only a single contest where both of the combatants will enter with undefeated records. That game will be played at Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford on Saturday, November 13 at 1:00 P.M. as 11-0 Rockford squares off against 11-0 Grand Blanc in a Division 1 Regional final.
The teams are almost mirror images of each other as it pertains to season averages. Rockford averages 39.8 points while allowing 14.8 and Grand Blanc scores 39.3 points while surrendering 16. This will be Grand Blanc’s third trip to Regional play and interestingly the previous two were also against Rockford in 2004 and 2011. Rockford won both of those contests in very different styles. The 2004 game saw Grand Blanc (featuring eventual Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram) get run over by the Rams to the tune of a 42-13 shellacking. The 2011 game was a tightly contested thriller that saw Rockford eke out a 30-28 win against a Bobcat team that was heavily reliant on the pass.
This year’s version of Grand Blanc football features multiple players who have either already committed or are being recruited by several colleges. The leader for the Bobcats is running back Elijah Jackson-Anderson who has committed to Eastern Michigan. Offensive lineman Andy Hartman (6’6″ 260 pounds) has several Division 1 offers he is considering and is joined on the line by 6’3″ 285-pound guard Jayden Lewin. Quarterback Hunter Ames is a dual threat who accounted for three touchdowns in the 49-28 win over Howell in the District finals while return specialist Nas Carson returned a squib kick for a TD in that game as well. Kicker\Punter Dylan Hertzberg also has several offers and is coming off a visit to the University of Michigan.
The Bobcats are coached by Clint Alexander who is in his fifth year at the school and has an overall record of 35-15 there. Alexander was previously the coach at Woodberry Forest Prep School in Virginia where he was 82-32-1 over 12 seasons and led one of the more successful prep school programs in that state.
The Rams are paced by senior quarterback Zak Ahern, who has accounted for over 50 touchdowns this year via either on the ground or in the air. He is complimented by a quartet of excellent receivers (Tyler Vroman, Alex McLean, Leo Vanderweil and Mac VandenHout). Sophomore Ryan Ahern is a grinder at running back and the Rams are hopeful to have Gabe Spees back after a lengthy injury recovery. Jack Lamancusa leads the defense along with Safety Sam Watts and linebacker Rick Beison. Andrew Griffin has been outstanding after converting to the defensive line from linebacker several games ago as well. Rockford also features sound special teams with kicker Jackson Burkholder, punter Zak Ahern and return men McLean and VandenHout leading the way.
The preliminary weather forecast calls for a clear, chilly day for what should be a battle to the finish.