GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Rockford and Grandville have had a longstanding rivalry in the OK Red Conference.
The two teams will renew acquaintances in the postseason with the upset-minded Bulldogs looking to topple the unbeaten and top-ranked Rams in Friday’s Division 1 district final.
Rockford survived a double-overtime thriller to defeat Grandville 53-46 earlier in the season.
“We’re excited for this after the game we had here,” Grandville coach Eric Stiegel said. “We focused on what was ahead of us, but we had in the back of our minds that there was a really good chance that this was going to happen again and I’m sure they did too. Both teams will be ready for it.”
This will be their fourth meeting in the playoffs in the last six years.
Grandville took Rockford to the wire in last year’s district final before falling in triple overtime, 34-28.
The Grandville Bulldogs haven’t beaten the Rockford Rams in the state playoffs since 2016.
“We know we have to play a really, really good game to beat them and we’ve been close the past couple times,” Stiegel said. “They’ve been tough losses, but my message to the team is we have to execute every snap and tighten up a little bit.
“We’re a different team and they’re a different team, but we’re confident in knowing we can be in position to win the game if we execute,” he said.
The Bulldogs hope to contain Rockford quarterback Zak Ahern, who recently committed to Ferris State University.
“Their quarterback is outstanding, and you can do a lot right against him and he can still make you pay,” Stiegel said. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen and the big thing is when the ball is in the air we have to make plays.”
Another district final game features West Catholic at Catholic Central in a Division 5 battle between two former City League rivals.
The Catholic Central Cougars, two-time defending state champions, are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the state.
Catholic Central (10-0) hasn’t lost since 2019, but will receive a stern test from a West Catholic squad that has only one loss this season.
The West Catholic Falcons (9-1) lost to state-ranked Unity Christian in Week 7, but their offense is averaging nearly 40 points per game.
Unity Christian (10-0) also is perfect this season and will face Grand Rapids Christian (7-3), which defeated Spring Lake last week in district play.
The two teams played in Week 2 with the Unity Christian Crusaders earning a 58-21 win.
Unity Christian has racked up a school-record 562 points this season and have scored 50 points or more in eight of its 10 games.