By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio.
After securing a pair of non-conference wins at home to open the 2022 season, Rockford will travel to Holland on Friday, September 9 to take on league foe West Ottawa at 7:00 P.M. Both teams enter the fray with a 2-0 mark and will be looking to try and remain perfect at this early juncture of the campaign. The game has the added allure of featuring West Ottawa’s brand new stadium that was built with a price tag of 25 million dollars. The facility seats 6500 and with standing room can host up ton 10,000 fans.
West Ottawa began the year with a 27-16 win over Northview and topped Portage Northern 21-10 in week two. The Panthers entered the 2022 season in the throes of a 26-game losing streak. But with the return of multiple starters and the hiring of a proven head coach last year the improvement has been evident early.
The Panthers are led by returning quarterback Cole Tulgestke and three-year starting offensive and defensive lineman Cooper Terpstra. Terpstra has already committed to Grand Valley State University. West Ottawa also features linebackers Ryan Stam, Juan Gomez and Ezekiel Perez. Stam sees double duty as a fullback offensively.
Pat Collins is in year number two as the head coach for the Panthers. After enduring the 0-9 record last year, Collins has seen vast improvement as the players have become more acclimated to his system. Collins came over from Montague where he was a sterling 159-45 from 2004-2020. Included in that record was a trio of state championships, eight Regional crowns and six league titles.
Rockford is helmed by Brent Cummings who has an excellent mark of 21-2 as he begins his third year in charge. Rockford rolled past East Grand Rapids 48-7 in their opener before rallying for a thrilling 31-27 win over Muskegon Mona Shores last week. The Rams feature a high-powered passing attack led by senior quarterback Mac VandenHout and receivers Alex McLean and Brody Thompson. Rockford also has a corps of outstanding linebackers Rick Beison, Ryan Ahern, Thys Segard and Colby Weston.
The Rams have won the last four meetings between the two squads, including a 62-14 win last year. Before those four Rockford wins, the Panthers had reeled off three in a row of their own. Rockford leads the all-time series with a mark of 43-12-1. Of all of the times the Rams have squared off against it is surprisingly West Ottawa who has squared off the second most often with Rockford (behind only Grandville).