By Randy Gregory
Michigan Sports Radio
Over the past 30 years or so no team has vexed Rockford football more on a regular basis than Jenison. Historically the teams stand at 23-23 in the all-time series with the Rams winning the past ten meetings to finally draw even. In 2020 the Rams were forced to rally to an improbable 16-13 OT win over the Wildcats by a score of 16-13 for the first win of Brent Cummings coaching career at Rockford.
In general Rockford has pretty much taken over the series with regular dominating wins against a school that is the second smallest of all the teams in the OK Red. This season has been a bit of a struggle for Jenison as they will enter the game against Rockford with an overall mark of 2-5 and 1-4 in OK Red play. Their lone win in conference play was a 31-10 victory over Grand Haven. Rockford stands at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play. Rockord’s last win was by a 42-31 count over Hudsonville.
The Wildcats are coached by Rob Zeitman, who has a wealth of coaching experience at both the college and high school level. Zeitman was an assistant to Tony Annese at Muskegon who helped begin the return to glory of that storied program. He was also the head coach at Mt. Clemens Chippewa Valley in the Detroit area as well as the head man at Grand Rapids Northview from 2007-11. He also was the associate head coach to Annese at Ferris State and an offensive line coach at Kent State University in Ohio. He has been the head coach at Jenison since 2018. The Wildcats have amassed a record of 21-22 under his tutelage in that time frame.
Rockford is led by third-year head coach Brent Cummings. Cummings has led Rockford to an enviable record of 26-2 in his tenure with the Rams. Prior to that he was a long-time assistant to coaching legend Ralph Munger at Rockford.
Jenison lost almost the entirety of their skill position players from last year’s squad but does return three starters on the offensive line as well as a few on the defensive side. Featured returners for Jenison are offensive linemen Chris VanOpstall and Gage Chatfield and defensive lineman David Miller. Thus far the Wildcats are averaging 13 points per contest while allowing 30. Rockford is putting up 40 points per contest while surrendering 18.6 in the six games they have played (minus the 2-0 forfeit victory against Grand Haven).
The Rams are paced by senior quarterback Mac VandenHout, who has accounted for 24 touchdowns total in passing and rushing in those six games for an average of four per contest. Receivers Alex McLean, Brody Thompson, Joey Pitsch and Jonny Rohen-Blanton headline a deep and speedy crew of pass catchers. Ryan Ahern pulls double duty at both running back and linebacker for the Rams and is joined defensively by linebackers Rick Beison, Thys Segard and Colby Weston. Several other defensive stalwarts include safeties Isaac Poot and Tyler Hoek, cornerbacks Austin Harvey and Louis Bosscher and defensive lineman Gabe Stouffer.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 P.M. at Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford on Friday, October 14. The game is also the annual Homecoming contest for Rockford, which nearly always guarantees a huge crowd if the weather cooperates.