TRAVERSE CITY — The measuring stick is there.
Now it's time for Traverse City West to see how it stacks up.
The Titans will travel to face perennial football powerhouse Rockford in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs tonight.
TC West receiver and defensive back Dustin Tucker has previously seen Rockford in playoff action three times, going to see his older brother play there twice and going along on the Titans' 2010 postseason trip. West lost all three, but the memories stick with Tucker.
"You know there's going to be 4,000 to 5,000 Rockford fans there, but it comes down to inside the lines," he said. "If we keep a level head and keep everything on the field and take the crowd out of it, we've got a shot. We have to not get wrapped up in the scenery, because they have a really nice facility and they get hyped for the playoffs every year."
The Titans (6-3) have faced the Rams (7-2) five times — all in the playoffs — and lost each time. In three of those five years, Rockford went on to win the state title.
"One thing we always say is if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best," said West quarterback Donny Cizek, who broke every major school passing record this season. "You can't argue with what Rockford has done year in, year out. It's always something to measure where we're at. If we ever want to consider ourselves to be an elite team, we have to prove it against some of the best."
While the Titans 0-5 mark against Rockford could deem the Rams a nemesis, West coach Tim Wooer said that's not quite the case.
"They're a nemesis with everybody," Wooer said. "When you have a really good program like they do, it's just the draw, the district you're in. You're not going to change that.
"One thing that's positive is that our kids are excited. Early on while I was here, I thought there was an aura about Rockford. And there is. I'm not trying to take anything away from them. But I don't think our kids are intimidated. Whether or not we're as good as they are, we'll find out. But our kids and our coaching staff are simply excited to go down there and measure where we're at."
And to that point, Wooer said the Titans need to play a near-perfect game to come back from the Grand Rapids suburb with the school's first playoff victory since 2004.
"If you want to make your mark in the state of Michigan, it's not going to be by beating (TC) Central or Ogemaw Heights or even Grand Ledge," Wooer said. "Everybody knows who Rockford is. From that standpoint, it's just a great opportunity for us to put West on the map if we can go down there and play the game of our life."
Quarterback Kyle Short missed the Rams' first four games, two of which were losses. Wide receiver Austin McKellar filled in at QB and had 107 rushing yards in a 22-0 Week Two win over Holt.
Since then, Rockford has been racking up consecutive wins, going 5-0 in the Old Kent-Red to claim the conference championship once again in one of the state's toughest leagues.
"In the conference they play and the schedule they have, they play the best week in and week out," Cizek said. "But Rockford traditionally is one of the best programs in the state. You have to prepare the best you can, because you know you're going to get their very best."
"They're just another team," West linebacker Derrick Diver said after last Friday's win over Adrian.
Titans defensive end Collin Bush also looked forward to the challenge of meeting Rockford, even though the matchup wasn't finalized when he talked about it last Friday.
"I hope so," he said. "That's fine with me. We'll play anybody."
Rockford's defense has given up no more than 21 points in a game this season, and opponents were able to reach double-digits just once in the last five weeks (34 total points). West has only held one opponent to single digits this season — a 42-0 shutout of Alpena in Week Four — but also has held seven of nine foes to 17 or less.
"West has never beaten Rockford," Tucker said. "We prepare for Rockford just like every other team. We watch film, break it down, see what we can do to combat their high-powered offense. They've got some good guys, but we've just got to play Titan football."
The Titans also haven't been held to less than 28 points since Week Two. Rockford's offense had generated more than 24 points on just three occasions this season — including back-to-back 49- and 45-point outbursts in the previous two weeks in wins over Hudsonville and Grand Haven.
TC West comes into the game mostly healthy. Running back Grant Balino and offensive guard Kaden Gillow are the only significant injuries Wooer listed, and guard Ben Morgenstern returned to action last week after missing a large chunk of the season.
Rams have 5 previous wins over Titans
TRAVERSE CITY — The measuring stick is there.
Lake overcomes cramps to finish Boston
Cramps didn’t stop Gary Lake from finishing his final Boston Marathon. The 67-year-old from Honor fought through a painful final eight miles to finish in just over five hours.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: Late rallies propel Christian to sweep
Jacob Rorick squeezed in Cam Beemer with the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth as Traverse City Christian edged McBain Northern Michigan Christian 7-6 in the first of two games. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Today in Sports: 04/23/2014
Kiel records top Boston time out of area runners
Kyle Kiel’s Boston Marathon time was over 35 minutes improved from last year’s. Gary Lake’s was infinitely better.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: TCW 11th; Scott ties for 1st
Alex Scott shot a 74 to tie for first overall as he led the Traverse City West boys golf team to an 11th-place finish Monday at the East Lansing Invitational at Walnut Hills. (Plus more)Continued ...
Sports in Brief: TC Roller Derby teams split
The teams of Traverse City Roller Derby participated as part of a tripl header of roller derby action at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek on Saturday. (Plus more)Continued ...
College Notes: Otwell wins 1,500 meters at Jesse Owens Classic
Michigan State redshirt senior Julia Otwell (Traverse City Central) won the 1,500-meter run Friday in the Jesse Owens Track Classic at Ohio State. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Today in Sports: 04/22/2014
- Monday, April 21, 2014
Dennis Chase: Lions should take guesswork out of draft
With the NFL draft approaching, Detroit’s been teasing its long-suffering fan base by bringing in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, receiver Sammy Watkins and outside linebacker Khalil Mack for meet-and-greets.Continued ...
Bowling Scores: 04/21/2014
Local bowling scores from Lucky Jack's:Continued ...
- Today in Sports: 04/21/2014
- Sunday, April 20, 2014
Unbeaten Titans roll past Central, 6-1
Trailing 1-0 early, the Titans responded with six unanswered goals over the final 58 minutes to beat crosstown rival Traverse City Central 6-1 in a Big North Conference soccer match at the Coast Guard field.Continued ...
Spanski to sign with Detroit Mercy
Brett Spanski can make a little history and be a trailblazer at the same time Wednesday.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: TC Thunder romps at Thirlby Field
The Traverse City Thunder opened the lacrosse season Saturday with an 11-1 win over Muskegon Reeths-Puffer and a 12-3 decision over Sault Ste, Marie. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Saturday, April 19, 2014
Trojans dominate track invitational
From staff reports MUSKEGON -- It was a good Friday for Traverse City Central sophomore Anthony Berry. Berry was part of three records as the Trojans easily won the 15-team Rocket Invitational at Muskegon Reeths-Puffer with 228.5 points. "No questionContinued ...
Traverse City Hounds rally to beat Jersey Shore, 6-3
LAS VEGAS -- Traverse City closed out the UHU national tournament with a flurry, rallying with five third-period goals to knock off the Jersey Shore Wildcats 6-3. Things didn't look as rosy in the first two periods. The Hounds did take a 1-0 lead onContinued ...
- Friday, April 18, 2014
Hounds on verge of elimination in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- Traverse City's penalty killing unit wasn't its usual self Thursday, allowing three power-play goals in a 6-2 UHU national tournament loss to the Soo Firehawks. In the regular season, the Hounds' penalty killers gave up a net three goalsContinued ...
Bob Gwizdz: Perfect day on the Manistee River
WELLSTON -- Tired of waiting for the St. Joseph River to clear up -- and having postponed our annual St. Patrick's Day (or thereabouts) steelhead sojourn already into April -- Jim Romine made the call: We were going to the Manistee River instead. AndContinued ...
DNR seeks solution to Vasa dispute
TRAVERSE CITY -- Fat tire bikers and cross country skiers are hoping for some sort of resolution to a brewing controversy on April 28. The two user groups have struggled to coexist in the first year since TART opened the Vasa trail to fat bikes as aContinued ...
- Thursday, April 17, 2014
Globetrotters entertain full house at Central
Twins Ezra and Cosmo Franseth were not only able to see the Harlem Globetrotters up close and personal from the front row for their birthday. They also were able to see their parents get involved in the act.Continued ...
Dennis Chase: Area loses one of its all-time best
Kim (Schneider) Monthei, a former All-State basketball player at Elk Rapids, passed away Monday from breast cancer at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She had just turned 42 on Saturday.Continued ...
Hounds drop opener in national tourney
In Las Vegas, it’s hard to bet against a team with a player named Dice. Dak Dice was among three different Idaho Jr. Steelheads players who scored goals in a 3-0 victory over Traverse City in the UHU national tournament’s opening round.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: Elks remain unbeaten
Nicole Hill netted three goals while Carley Patterson added a goal and two assists as Elk Rapids defeated East Jordan 8-0 in a Lake Michigan Conference match Wednesday. (Plus more)Continued ...
Prep Track Roundup: Trojans sweep Gaylord
Savannah Champion was a champion Wednesday in Traverse City Central’s 120-44 Big North Conference win over Gaylord. (Plus more)Continued ...
5K is May 18
The Community Outreach Council is putting on the Homeward Bound 5K race and fun walk on Sunday, May 18 at Traverse City West Middle School.Continued ...
- Lake overcomes cramps to finish Boston