By Randy Gregory,
Michigan Sports Radio
There is no other team on Rockford’s schedule who comes close to matching the number of games that the Rams have played against Grandville. When using a web site that covers every game contested by every high school in Michigan since 1950, Rockford and Grandville have squared off 76 times over the past 72 years. Rockford holds a 45-31 edge in those contests. West Ottawa is the second most common opponent for the Rams with 57 meetings, including one earlier this year. And what makes this rivalry even better is that both teams are almost annually two of the best teams on the west side of the state.
This year is no different as Rockford enters the contest with a mark of 5-0 (3-0 OK Red) and Grandville comes in at 4-1 (2-1 OK Red). Rockford is fresh off of a 41-20 win over a solid East Kentwood team and Grandville suffered their first defeat last week against a powerhouse Caledonia team by the count of 50-40.
The Bulldogs have had little trouble putting points on the board this year as they average nearly 42 points a game. They have also shown a tendency to give up a fair amount of points by allowing 29 per outing. Rockford has averaged 40.3 points in the four games they have played (minus a 2-0 forfeit over Grand Haven) while surrendering only 16.8.
The two teams could not feature a more different offensive attack from the other. Grandville will run a straight “T” formation nearly every play while executing multiple fakes in an effort to fool the defense and take advantage of their excellent team speed. Rockford will spread the field constantly while featuring a passing attack that looks to get one on one matchups with their plethora of outstanding receivers while mixing in runs on a regular basis. Grandville has changed things up a little bit this year while featuring the propensity to pass the ball a bit more often.
The Bulldogs are coached by Eric Stiegel, who has been the head man since 2014. Stiegel has built a record of 56-30 at Grandville while making the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons. He coached previously in the Detroit area at Taylor Truman High School where he turned a one-win team into a playoff squad each of his final two seasons at the helm. The Rams are led by Brent Cummings who is in the midst of his third season at Rockford. Cummings has built up an enviable record of 24-2 thus far.
The Bulldogs feature returning senior quarterback Carson Smith and a number of speedy running backs. The backs are led by freshman Jayden “Tank” Terry and Carson Kopko. Brayden LaCroix and Logan Stockwell headline an excellent corps of receivers.
Rockford is led offensively by senior quarterback Mac VandenHout and receivers Alex McLean and Brody Thompson. Running back Ryan Ahern is a rare two-way player for the Rams who excels on both sides of the ball. The Rams also have playmakers at all three levels of the defense with linemen Gabe Stouffer and Drew Ferguson, linebackers Rick Beison, Colby Weston, Thys Segard and Ahern, and defensive backs Isaac Poot, Tyler Hoek, Louis Bosscher and Austin Harvey.
The preliminary forecast calls for a cool, clear evening and the crowd should be bursting at the seams for the latest version of the storied rivalry. Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford is the venue and kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M.