By Randy Gregory,

Michigan Sports Radio


It hasn’t happened since 1985, but the 2022 high school football season will kick off for Rockford on Thursday, August 25 at 7:00 P.M. when the Rams host East Grand Rapids in a renewal of a rivalry that took place 28 times from the 1960s to the 1980s. The series was dominated by East Grand Rapids as they recorded victories in 24 of those meetings. The last game between the two saw East winning a 24-0 shutout, while the last win for Rockford was a 36-20 game in 1982.


EGR has a long, proud history as one of the perennial powers in Michigan high school football as they have a grand total of no fewer than 11 state championships. That included a stretch where they reeled off five in a row concluding in 2010. They have since been a fairly regular participant in the state playoffs but have consistently run into a Big Red wall in Muskegon in Muskegon at either the district or regional level.


Both schools were members of the OK Red conference for many years before Rockford continued to grow and landlocked EGR stayed static with their school population. Rockford now nearly triples the Pioneers in number of students.


Last season saw the Pioneers struggle to their worst record since 2000 as they ended up 3-6 in the OK White. This season will also see a transition to a new head coach as Josh Shattuck takes over the reins for Casey Longo. Shattuck played his college football at Alma before beginning his head coaching career at Gladwin High School in Michigan from 2009-2012. From there he moved to the Hoosier state (Indiana) for the next decade. He initially began at Seymour High School 2013-2016) and then to Elkhart Central (2017-2019) and finally Elkhart High School (2020-2021) after Central and Memorial High Schools merged into a single school.


Shattuck has a history of taking over struggling programs and turning them into winners over a relatively short time frame. He was 14-6 over the previous two seasons at Elkhart and turned an 0-10 Seymour team into an 8-4 squad by the time he departed. He also had similar success at Gladwin.


The Pioneers return only five starters total in 2022 so the cards are a little bit stacked against Shattuck as he begins this chapter of his prep coaching career. He features an offense that has historically run a balanced attack of both run and pass depending on what the defense offers. For being a school of fewer than 1000 students, the turnout for the football team is strong with over 60 players on the varsity.


Rockford will counter with a roster of 92, as both teams trend against the national perception of waning football participation. This will be East Grand Rapids first visit to Carlson-Munger Stadium and a huge crowd is anticipated as Rockford looks to make up for many years of frustration against the Pioneers