By Sara Crosby
Being a varsity football player for the Rockford Rams is not for the faint of heart. It requires sacrifice, hard work, determination and the relentless pursuit of victory. Every week they put themselves on the line for every player on their team and every fan in their stands. Over the course of four months they put in over 30 hours a week of training, practicing, meeting, attending film reviews and spending time with trainers to keep their bodies functioning. They climb every obstacle together as a family, celebrate every victory as a team and pick each other up in every defeat. Friday night the Rams, team 107, stepped onto the field with their minds, hearts and eyes focused on getting one step closer to the ultimate goal, a state championship.
The Rams would come into Friday nights first playoff game with a regular season record of 8-1, after defeating East Kentwood at home last week 7-17. They would go into Friday nights game with the full knowledge that the East Kentwood falcons, who finished 5-4 in the regular season, were coming back for revenge and to dash the Rams hopes of additional post season play.
As nighttime fell upon the stadium for the first half of the game, the Rams offense would continually fight to march down the field to put points on the board. Despite inspirational efforts of one handed snags by senior Eli Haddad, relentless bull rushing by senior Jaiden Friesen and valiant throwing efforts of junior Chris Corey, the Rams would go into halftime scoreless. The Falcons, however, would take control of the first half with three touchdowns and one successful field goal, giving them a 24-0 lead over the Rams. For the first time all season the Rams offense would enter halftime, scoreless and the Rams defense would have allowed 24points in the first half.
Fans would watch the Rams head to their locker room hoping they re-group, make adjustments and come out with a new game plan to take control of the second half. As the third quarter began, a forced errant snap by the Rams would result in a Falcon safety affording the Rams their first points of the night. The fans a fore mentioned hopes would seem to come alive, as the Rams would have a successful field goal by junior Teagan Lenderink inching their score to 24-5. The Falcons however, would be relentless in their pursuit of victory by answering with a 70 yard touchdown, bumping the score up to 31-5.Despite the stadiums roar of cheering fans and an over the shoulder 25-yard touchdown pass to Eli Haddad in the fourth quarter, the Rams valiant effort would be unable to gain any further points with a final score of 31-12.
The heartbreak could be felt before the game ended, as fans watched players giving hugs, wiping away tears and saying good-bye to one another on the sidelines.Families and friends gathered at the edge of the field, many speechless and several in tears, as the Rams came together on the field; one last time.The feeling of true sadness hung thick in the air as families and friends rushed to embrace the Rams.Words of encouragement and pride could be heard around the field as everyone spoke of the Rams relentless pursuit for victory, until the very end.
Helmets would be taken off and placed on the field as senior players took a moment to say one last good-bye to a sport and a team that they have loved for years. Three wonderful captains of team 107; senior Jaiden Friesen, senior James Kapp and senior Jackson Moseley would link arms and walk off the field as one and that is how team 107 would close the books on their season.
To those seniors of team 107, you leave a legacy in your wake. You are an immensely talented group of young men who will, no doubt bring good into the world. As you move on to promising futures, take the memories of all that you accomplished this season and let it carry you into all that you seek to conquer. The pride, the care, the encouragement and the effort that you gave will live on within the Ram football program and it will be a better program because of you.
To the talented players that will form team 108, next fall seems like light years away. We, as a town, will have a hard time awaiting what next season will hold as the view of Ford field continues to come into focus for the Rams. We will be there to cheer you on and support you in all that you will bring to the 2020 season. Until then, hold your head high and know that we will be waiting.
From a grateful Ram nation, we say to you team 107; thank you. You have shown us all what it means to come together as one, you never left a man behind, you never played as individuals, you overcame many obstacles and you always left everything on the field. You are the true embodiment of the motto “We Before Me”. Hold no regrets and know that no matter what you do, or where you go, you will always and forever be a Rockford Ram.