GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Rockford has won the last 4 OK Red titles, this season the rest of the pack makes another run at the Rams, here is a preview:
The Rams went undefeated in conference play in 2012 and made it to the division 1 state semifinals for the 3rd consecutive year. As is the norm, Rockford started mostly seniors in 2012, that means there are not a lot of returning starters. Wide receiver Austin McKellar is the only returning full-time starter on offense, he filled in at quarterback last season while Kyle Short battled and injury. On defense, the Rams return 4 starters led by a pair of linebackers entering their 3rd year starting on varsity in Brent Showers and Randy Garvin. Look for Rockford at or near the top of the Red standings this fall.
The Panthers were 8-3 last season with 2 of their losses coming to Rockford including a playoff game. In fact, West Ottawa has lost 12 straight games to Rockford including each of the last 3 years in the playoffs. So is this the year the Panthers finally get by the Rams? West Ottawa returns 10 starters, 6 on defense. Running backs James Lacy and Christian Rodino both saw carries as sophomores last season, I would expect that fellow junior Caleb McNitt would be the quarterback in 2013 replacing the graduated Trevor VanTubbergen. The defensive returners are led by linebacker Mason Dekker who was a stalwart at inside linebacker as a sophomre last year.
The Falcons are coming off a 4-5 season under an interim coach. 2013 starts the Ryan Gallogly era at East Kentwood. Gallogly was the head coach at Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis the last 7 seasons. Kentwood does return 7 starters from last season led by running back Onrekus Carter, linebacker Gabriel Ramirez and quarteback Kyle Friberg started 6 varsity games last season as a sophomore and the Falcons have high hopes for him.
The Buccaneers were 3-6 last season after 3 consecutive playoff appearences from 2009-2011. Grand Haven returns a lot from last season, including 8 starters on defense. Linebackers Dakota Jaurez and Aaron Gordon should lead a strong unit this season. On offense several skill players return led by wide receiver Isaac Newhouse and running back Abe Westerman.
The Bulldogs improved upon 2011 last season by 4 wins finishing at 4-5. Now, coach Mike Lapciuk hopes to see similar improvemnet in 2013. Grandville did graduate a lot of starters from last seasons team but running back Tavon Davis saw a lot of action as a sophomore last year and the Bulldogs also return 3 starting offensive lineman.
The Egles were 2-7 in 2012, but definitely start 2013 with hopes of serious improvement. They return 10 starters including quarterback Masonn Opple who came up from the junior varsity and played a lot late in the year. The junior varsity had was really good in 2012 going 8-1. Dakota Prince was a starter on both sides of the ball last season and linebackers Aaron Hamming and Kody Bauswell also retrun for Hudsonville in 2013.