Rams look for third consecutive perfect regular season
In an age where football participation rates have been slowly dwindling, Rockford stands as an outlier in 2022. No fewer than 92 players make up the current varsity roster. And the trickle-down effect remains strong as well with 56 players on the junior varsity and 80 on the freshman squad. That stunning turnout will look to continue a Rockford tradition of playoff appearances that has now reached a state record (for all classes) of 27 consecutive trips to the postseason. The Rams will also look to achieve their third successive perfect regular season after going 8-1 in 2020 and 11-1 in 2021. The 2020 campaign ended with a loss in the state semi-finals and the 2021 season came to a heart-breaking end in the Regional contest by a score of 28-27.
Rockford returns nine starters overall, though a pair of them will be manning different positions this time around. Mac VandenHout is one returning starter who will be at a different spot this time around as he converts from a wide receiver to the main man at quarterback. VandenHout acquitted himself extremely well last year on the occasions he spelled departed All-State quarterback Zak Ahern. Alex McLean will also return as a highly productive slot receiver who garnered All Conference and All Region accolades last time around. There are also a pair of returners on the offensive line as Mike Liggett returns at center and Daniel Neill comes back as a guard. Neill was also an All Conference and All Region honoree in 2021.
The Ram defensive returners are highlighted by a trio of returning starters at the linebacker positions. Rick Beison returns in the middle and is another Ram who was an All Conference selection last year. He will be joined by Thys Segard at an outside linebacker slot and Ryan Ahern as the second middle linebacker. Ahern is technically the other position switch as he started the vast majority of 2021 as a running back but also saw extensive action at linebacker as the season progressed. He will also see some time as a running back when the situation warrants it.
The varsity roster breakdown consists of 41 seniors and 49 juniors with a pair of sophomores who should play pivotal roles this year. Isaac Poot will man one of the safety spots and Cade Friesen will see extensive time as a linebacker and running back.
‘We have had an incredible work ethic led by our seniors in the buildup to this season,” said Rockford Coach Brent Cummings. “We will have multiple senior starters with several juniors mixed in and they have been a great group to work with as we have progressed. We are blessed with a tremendous group of assistant coaches as well and they have also done an outstanding job getting all of our players ready.”
Cummings record stands at an excellent 19-2 as he prepares for season number three at the helm for Rockford. The schedule is dotted with multiple difficult contests that includes a clash with preseason number 2 in Division 2 Muskegon Mona Shores in the second and final nonconference game. Then add in the always difficult OK Red slate that includes games with several great teams including Caledonia, Grandville and Hudsonville. The opening two contests will be played on Thursdays as the Rams kick off 2022 at home against East Grand Rapids on August 25 at 7:00 P.M. Then comes the clash against Mona Shores on September 1. That will be followed by seven consecutive contests on Fridays alternating away and home over that time span. The regular season will culminate with Rockford making the trek to Caledonia to square off with the 2021 runners up Fighting Scots who return multiple players who have already garnered Division 1 offers.