After securing the overall top seed in Division 1 for the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs with a 38-15 triumph over Caledonia last week, Rockford will circle back to a familiar opponent for their opening tilt. Just five weeks ago the Rams journeyed south to take on East Kentwood and emerged with a 41-20 win. Rockford jumped out to a 41-7 lead in the contest and surrendered a pair of late touchdowns to make the score far more respectable for the Falcons. Rockford will enter the fray with a perfect record of 9-0 and the number one seed in District 1 Region 1 while the Falcons are 5-4 and the four seed in the same district.
The teams are frequent competitors and have met 55 times previously with Rockford winning 29 and the Falcons 26. Just three short years ago a favored Rockford team, that had just beaten East Kentwood 17-7 the previous week, fell to EK by an overwhelming score of 38-12. Should the Rams win this game and the next, they would continue to serve as the host team for the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Rockford struggled offensively to a certain extent in the first contest between the two squads. The Rams totaled just over 200 yards offensively against a talented East Kentwood defense. Rockford also piled up 12 penalties for a whopping 120 yards to further hurt their cause. But the defense and special teams were stellar in spearheading the victory. Rockford amassed 13 tackles for loss and four sacks while making life miserable for the two Falcon quarterbacks who saw the majority of action. Rockford stuffed a fake punt attempt as well as forcing a punt that netted exactly zero yards on special teams.
East Kentwood returns nine starters defensively and five starters on the offensive squad. They are fairly close to a dead even split offensively and defensively. The Falcons average 19.4 points per game while allowing 18.5. But they have played a challenging schedule including Rockford, Caledonia and Grandville in league play as well as squaring off with Muskegon and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice in non-league play.
They are led by Western Michigan University signee Razah Townsend. The defensive lineman stands 6’5″ and weighs 230 pounds. He is joined by returning all-conference middle linebacker Stellan Bowman and defensive back Nate Cobbs. Both Bowman and Cobbs will also see time on offense. Casey Joppie returns as quarterback for the Falcons.
Rockford is putting up 40.5 points per contest while surrendering 17.6. Rockford also faced a tough schedule including Muskegon Mona Shores, Caledonia, Grandville and East Kentwood. Rockford returned five starters on offense and five on defense. The Rams feature quarterback Mac VandenHout, running back and linebacker Ryan Ahern, wide receivers Alex McLean and Bryce Thompson and linebacker Rick Beison.
East Kentwood is coached by former Western Michigan star and pro Tony KImbrough. Kimbrough is in his ninth season at the helm and has run up a mark of 50-37 during his tenure. The Rams are led by third-year coach Brent Cummings. The former University of Michigan running back and long-time Ram assistant is an impressive 28-2 thus far for the Rams.
The game is slated for kickoff at 7:00 P.M. on Friday, October 28 at Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford. The preliminary forecast is very promising with expected highs in the 50s and partly cloudy conditions. The other two teams in the Rockford district are fellow OK Red members Caledonia and Grandville. Those two teams will square on Saturday at 1:00 P.M. with the winners of both games meeting the weekend of November fourth with the highest seeded winner hosting.