Rockford faces stern test in semis against defending state champs

Football Frenzy

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Rockford football team is one win away from a trip to Ford Field. Standing in their way is a visit from the defending Division 1 state champions.

The Rams (8-0) host Davison (10-0) Saturday in a Division 1 state semifinal. Both teams are unbeaten.

“They’re an extremely physical team, a fast team,” first-year Rockford coach Brent Cummings said. “They’ve been there before so we’re facing an opponent that knows how to prepare at a high level and knows how to compete at a high level. The coaching staff has been there before so that’s what we’re up against.”  

Davison defeated Brighton 35-25 in last year’s state final and is riding a 15-game winning streak. The Cardinals defeated Detroit Catholic Central 20-7 last week to win a regional title.

Dion Brown Jr. helped lead the way for Davison. He replaced all-state quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who opted to enroll early at Northwestern after the pause. 

Meanwhile, Rockford played its first game in 59 days last weekend and defeated Saline 40-17 to earn its first trip to the state semifinals since 2012. 

Quarterback Zak Ahern accounted for five touchdowns in the victory.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how we played last week,” Cummings said. “They were working hard behind the scenes and were doing all the things they were supposed to. They continued to believe that they were going to have a chance to play and I was impressed with the way they carried themselves.”

Rockford has had a longstanding tradition as a perennial powerhouse, winning seven or more games 18 consecutive years, while claiming numerous OK Red Conference championships.

The Rams had three straight years (2010-12) of state semifinal appearances, but were unable to break through. Their last state crown came in 2008. 

Cummings, who helped Belding win a Class B state championship in 1997, said the team isn’t looking ahead. 

“We need to continue to enjoy each day that we get to work together and the kids can’t look ahead to a state final,” he said. “Just continue to be in the moment, which has been our strength all year, and work hard and remain focused.” 

Rockford’s offense has been potent this season and has averaged 35 points per game. 

“We have to execute and believe in the game plan,” Cummings said. “Each kid has to focus on their job and what their role is while doing it to the best of their ability. Defensively, they have trust that our coaches have put in a solid game plan and take it play by play. We preach that every single game and nothing has changed since game one. They have to continue to believe in each other.” 

Here are the state semifinal matchups involving area teams:

  • Division 1: Davison (10-0) at Rockford (8-0); 1 p.m.
  • Division 2: Traverse City Central (9-1) at Mona Shores (10-0); 1 p.m
  • Division 3: Muskegon (9-1) at DeWitt (10-0) 1 p.m.
  • Division 4: Cadillac (7-2) at Edwardsburg (9-0); 1 p.m.
  • Division 5: Freeland (9-1) at Catholic Central (9-0); 1 p.m.
  • Division 6: Graying (7-3) at Montague (10-0); 1 p.m.
  • Division 7: Schoolcraft (9-1) at New Lothrop (9-0) 1 p.m.

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