Photo courtesy of Miles Postema
Two weeks prior, Rockford and Caledonia faced off as a pair of unbeaten, highly ranked squads at Caledonia with the winner claiming an OK Red title and securing home field for the first three rounds of the playoffs should they continue winning. The first clash saw Rockford claim a dominant 38-15 win before an overflowing crowd that was somewhat stunned by the eventual outcome. It wasn’t the fact that the Rams won a true tossup contest, but rather the quality of their play.
Well, now comes round two at Rockford on Friday, November 4 at 7:00 P.M. Both teams advanced (as expected) with relatively easy wins over conference foes. Rockford topped East Kentwood 50-14 and Caledonia beat Grandville 48-26. Those results left Rockford with a record of 10-0 while Caledonia will enter the fray with a mark of 9-1. Both teams had some chances in the earlier meeting to put more points on the board as Rockford turned the ball over twice inside the Caledonia 15 early and the Scots just missed on a couple of deep shots.
A tale of the tape for both teams shows amazingly similar stats over the course of the season. Caledonia averages 42.8 points per contest and allows 14.4. The Rams are putting up 41.3 points and surrender 17.2. They both played the exact same schedule in conference play but Rockford probably played a more difficult nonleague slate with a contest against Muskegon Mona Shores. Caledonia did face and defeat Holt earlier this season and that squad is still alive as well in the playoffs.
Rockford leads the all-time series 8-1 with the Rams claiming each of the last eight meetings. The lone Caledonia win came in the initial contest that took place in 2014. That game saw an undefeated Rockford team roll into Caledonia with high hopes but leave with their tail between their legs after getting steamrolled 42-0.
Senior quarterback Mason McKenzie is back for his third season behind center and is a dangerous double threat as both a passer and runner for the Fighting Scots. Junior running back Brock Townsend is a talented running back and is always a threat to go the distance. And finally, junior Derek Pennington, JR is a threat as both a tight end and linebacker for the Fighting Scots. Justice Reed is also a speedy, big play threat as a receiver for Caledonia.
Rockford counters with a standout quarterback of their own in Mac VandenHout. VandenHout is also a dual threat and has an outstanding corps of receivers led by Alex McLean and Brody Thompson. Junior Ryan Ahern is an extremely rare two-way player for the Rams who excels as a running back and middle linebacker. The Rams offensive line features Dan Neill, Alex McPhee and Mike Liggett. The defensive standouts include the other three linebackers (Rick Beison, Colby Weston and and Thys Segard. Gabe Stouffer, Isaac Poot and Austin Harvey are also dangerous on that side of the ball.
Caledonia is coached by Derek Pennington, SR who has run up a record of 19-3 in his two seasons at the helm for Caledonia. Pennington, SR also had great success at Zeeland East with a mark of 88-43 before heading east to Caledonia. He also ran the show at Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix for four years prior to that stint. Brent Cummings is in his third year as the head man for Rockford. His record is an outstanding 29-2 thus far in his short tenure. Prior to taking over as the head coach for the Rams, Cummings was a long-time assistant to Rockford coaching legend Ralph Munger.
Carlson-Munger Stadium in Rockford will host the game this time around and the preliminary weather forecast looks very promising with temperatures in the upper 50s and only a slight chance of precipitation. With such a short time frame between the games, both teams will look to make whatever adjustments they deem necessary to come out on top this time around to advance to the Regional finals against the winner of the Grand Ledge versus Holt contest the following week. An overwhelming crowd is a virtual certainty this time as well so make plans to arrive early and reserve your seat for what promises to be a game to remember between two of the top teams in Michigan