Rockford football opens against an opponent he hasn’t played in 37 years

Take a look at the Rockford football team’s 2022 schedule and an unknown opponent sits high on the list.

The Rams open Aug. 26 at home against East Grand Rapids, and it’s been nearly four decades since the two teams played each other. It will be the first time since 1985 that they have played, and the game brings extra excitement to the start of the season.

“They have an exciting new coach (Josh Shattuck) who’s been successful everywhere he’s gone,” Rockford third-year coach Brent Cummings said. “They’re going to be excited to come to Rockford and we’re thrilled to have them.”

Rockford is coming off of another championship season since the Rams won their third straight OK Red Conference title. The Rams also went undefeated in the regular season for the second straight year before finishing 11-1.

The season ended on a disappointment for Rockford as the Rams lost to the Big White 28-27 in the regional round after failing on a 2-point conversion attempt in the final game of the game. But the Rams used that heartbreaking loss as motivation for the 2022 season.

“The last game of the playoffs left a bad taste in our mouths,” said Rockford senior Mac VandenHout. “The way we came out could have gone better. So we use that as motivation throughout the summer to improve as a team.

Rockford fires five starters on offense and four on defense. Key players include Alex McLean, Mike Liggett, Rick Beison, Austin Harvey and Thys Segard. Beison was an all-conference, all-region linebacker a year ago, and Rockford center Liggett was a freshman football player last season and became a team leader. McLean will be playing slots and Harvey is a cornerback.

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“Thy Segard is a senior outside linebacker and a very strong kid,” Cummings said. “He’s one of the strongest individuals on the team. He started last year for us at outside linebacker, and we’re looking for him to have an exciting senior year. Physically, he’s a boy He’s energetic and a hard worker, and we’re looking to see what he can accomplish.

The Rams fired quarterback Zak Ahern, who started for Rockford the past two seasons. Cummings said he is looking for VandenHout to play quarterback this season.

“Mac VandenHout played slots for us last year,” Cummings said. “He played some snaps for us behind Zak. He’s an exceptional football player, and we knew we had to put him on the pitch, so we pushed him.

Not only will Rockford be looking to continue their dominance in the OK Red, but the Rams are also looking to make their 28th consecutive trip to the state playoffs.

“The great thing about Rockford is that there will always be high expectations,” Cummings said. “It’s part of the culture. It’s a nice pressure that you have to work on every day. Our staff thrive on it. Our kids thrive on it. They understand the history of the program.

“We have a neat group of seniors who are up for this challenge and working hard. It’s a group that is very, very serious. It will not be a group with a top athlete. But there are a lot of really good high school football players on the team who are excited to go.

Calendar 2022

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August 25 – East Grand Rapids

September 1 – Mona Shores

September 9 – in Ottawa West

September 16 – Grand Haven

September 23 – at East Kentwood

September 30 – Grandville

October 7 – in Hudsonville

October 14 – Jenison

October 21 – in Caledonia

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