ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The coach at the helm of Rockford’s football program for nearly three decades is retiring.
In an email sent Friday morning, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mike Shibler announced Ralph Munger is stepping down after 28 seasons.
“Coach Munger holds a total career record of 335-109, and led the Rams to three Division I state titles, 25 consecutive playoff years, and six undefeated regular seasons. Many players went on to play at the collegiate level, with four going on to play in the National Football League,” the note read in part.
Shibler hired Munger in 1992 to lead the program. He was inducted into the Rockford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Munger has also coached softball and taught for Rockford Public Schools from 1992 to 2010
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Munger said his recent health scare was a factor in his decision to retire.
“Aug. 9 changed my life,” Munger said. “Kind of woke me up, made me look at things a little different.”
While addressing the community Friday afternoon, Munger reflected on some of the big moments.
“Who can ever forget closing down the Silverdome,” he said. “The last state championship, playing in the Silverdome right before they closed and then turn around and we helped open up Ford Field with another state championship effort, which we were successful at.”
Shibler also spoke during the press conference, admiring Munger for his leadership on and off the field.
“We can talk about state championships and all the other wins and victories, but quite frankly, in my opinion, the most important influence Coach Munger has had is on his students and student-athletes,” Shibler said. “The fact that he had an incredible impact on molding young men’s lives. Hundreds and hundreds of students.”
Current Rockford High School student and football player Teagen Lenderink told News 8 Munger lived up to his reputation on and then some.
“How much he cares about your character,” Lenderink said. “How much he cares about you as a person, other than just a player.”
After hanging up his headset once and for all, Munger has a few ideas about how he’ll spend his newfound free time.
“I have a fishing boat, a beautiful 18-foot Lund with a 115 E-tec engine on it and I got it out last year twice. That’s wrong. That has to change,” Munger said.
Rockford’s football program is retiring jersey No. 28, that’s the same number of seasons Munger spent as the program’s head coach.
Rockford Athletic Director Cole Andrews said the only future Ram who will have the opportunity to wear jersey No. 28 will be Munger’s grandson, should he choose to play high school football.
Munger retires with the sixth most wins in Michigan High School Athletic Association football history.
Below News 8 has pulled packages of when the Rockford Rams won the state finals under Munger’s leadership.
>>Above is highlights of when the Rockford Rams played its last state final at the Pontiac Silverdome in 2004.<<
>>Above is the highlights of when the Rams won the state championship in 2005.<<
>>Above is the highlights of when the Rams won the Division 1 state championship in 2008.<<