By Randy Gregory
After an uneven performance last week against West Ottawa in a 39-12 win, Rockford scored early and often in building a 42-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 49-8 win over the Buccaneers on Friday, September 29 on the road. The Rams put up 21 points in both the first and second quarters and quelled any threats that Grand Haven could muster while building the overwhelming lead and setting the running clock in motion. The win moved Rockford to 6-0 on the season and 4-0 in OK Red play. Grand Haven dropped to 1-5 and 0-4 respectively.
“The kids seemed like they were really dialed in tonight,” said Rockford coach Brent Cummings. “That is what I talked to them about after the game. At the end of the day I am just proud of them for the work they put in day-to-day and their consistency in how they practice. That is how they carry themselves as a Rockford football player and allows them to come out and compete at a high level every week. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is and i think they did a great job of that tonight.”
The Rams unveiled a few new wrinkles tonight due to a few injuries. Headlining the changes was the initial appearance of the season of sophomore quarterback Brayden Daniels. Elevated from the junior varsity to replace injured starter Drake Irwin, Daniels was outstanding in leading the Rockford offense to seven touchdowns on seven possessions. Daniels was 6-11 passing for 134 yards and rang up 51 yards on eight carries running the ball. He did all of this while playing turnover free and appearing extremely poised in every situation.
“I thought Brayden (Daniels) played great football tonight,” said Cummings. “You know, he had to learn a lot of things in a week even though we have some consistencies from varsity to JV to freshman and even into our middle schools. When you get to the varsity level there are there are just some things that are different and more complicated. There is some verbiage that is different that he had to pick up in a hurry. He is composed back there and really did a nice job for his first game on the varsity.”
After the Bucs were turned away quickly in their first possession on an interception from sophomore safety Luke Ahern, Rockford got on the scoreboard quickly. Keeping it in the family senior running back Ryan Ahern busted into the end zone on a 28-yard jaunt over the right side to make it a 7-0 game with 9:37 left in the first quarter. Chase Vogt was successful on the first of seven successful extra points for the Rams following the TD. It was a 14-0 lead on the next possession for Rockford as Daniels hooked up with Ben Cummings on a 31-yard quick screen to the right that the speedy senior took to the house. The next Ram score was set up by a beautiful 39-yard punt return from junior standout Isaac Poot. Poot took the ball all the way down to the Buc three where Ryan Ahern took it in on the first play to increase the lead to 21-0.
Daniels connected with senior wide receiver Seth Anderson for the next Ram score on the second play of the second quarter. Daniels fired a deep ball to Anderson that he reeled in on the left side and kept his balance as two Buc defenders collided with each other and fell to the turf. Anderson covered 62-yards on the scoring play that made it a 28-0 game with 11:10 left in the second quarter. Daniels and Anderson hooked up again for the next Ram score. Daniels fired a slant to Anderson that went for 14 yards and a TD with 5:19 left in the opening half to make it a 35 to 0 contest. The next Ram score came on the final possession of the half for Rockford. Ryan Ahern did the honors again for the Rams from 12 yards out to make it a 42-0 Rockford lead at the half.
Poot capped off the scoring for Rockford on their initial possession of the second half with two big plays. Poot reeled in the opening kickoff for Rockford at his own 17 and zigged and zagged his way to the Buc 14-yard line on a brilliant return that saw him evade multiple defenders. To cap it off, Poot took the handoff on the opening play and went 14 yards for the score to make it 49-0 with 11:00 left in the third quarter. The rest of the game saw the Rams employ most, if not all, of their 102-man roster.
“Isaac (Poot) is one heck of an athlete and he loves the game of football,” said Cummings. “He loves to make plays and he will do whatever we need right now on whatever side of the ball he is on. We are leaning on him on the defensive side right now, but he is definitely a weapon on both sides.”
Cummings continued, “I thought it went well on the offensive line with the changes we had to make tonight too. We showed some depth there where we had to move some guys around with Nolan Miller being injured. We moved the ball consistently both running and passing it tonight and I thought the whole line did a really nice job.”
Ryan Ahern led the Ram rushing attack with 66 yards on seven carries while Poot had 44 on just three attempts. Cam Kruisenga added 20 yards of his own on a jet sweep to compliment the rushing attack. Anderson had 3 catches for 87 yards and a pair of TDs to lead the Ram receiving corps. Ben Cummings had the one grab for 31 yards and a score while junior tight end Blake Linsley had one grab for 17 yards. Ryan Ahern led the Ram defense with seven tackles and Kade Friesen and Logan Haglund both added four stops on a night where it was difficult to rack up any statistics due to the vast number of players seeing the field.
Rockford will return home next week to host an old foe when East Kentwood comes to Carlson-Munger Stadium. The Falcons record stands at 3-3 following their 31-17 win over Jenison.
“I believe they had their way with Grand Haven last week too, ” said Cummings. “It should be a great game and we are all looking forward to it. They always have some talented players and a coaching staff that has been in place for quite a while.”