20 YEARS OF STATE CHAMPS! 20 STATE CHAMPIONS SERIES: 2004 Rockford Rams
Photo Courtesy: Rockford Twitter @RockfordRamRB
Rockford — The 2004 Rockford Rams football team made an indelible imprint on the program. propelling it forward and establishing its state-championship tradition.
Rockford’s 2004 club was the first state title team on the gridiron in school history. It was also the first crown for the Rams’ legendary head coach Ralph Munger, who took the reins in 1990 and retired in 2019 with 3 state championships and 332 victories, good for sixth most in the MHSAA record book.
The Rams went 12-2 in 2004. They didn’t win an OK-Red league title — dropping regular season contests to Grandville and Hudsonville — but caught fire in the playoffs. To open the postseason, Munger’s Rams upended Grandville 31-24 with a 4th-and-one stop in overtime to win it and avenge their 38-35 Week 4 loss. The Rams rallied late to beat South Lyon 17-10 in the final four.
Playing in the last set of state finals at the old Silverdome in Pontiac, Rockford rolled to the D1 state championship by throttling Sterling Heights Stevenson 31-6. Senior quarterback Spencer Klukowski found his future college teammate Josh Rauser on a 65-yard touchdown bomb in the final seconds of the second quarter gave the Rams a 14-0 lead heading into halftime. Running back Sean O’Rourke scored his second touchdown of the day early in the third quarter on a 32-yard scamper. Klukowski hit receiver Bryan Anderson (Central Michigan) for a 34-yard score to make it 28-0 and the rout was on.
Both Klukowski and Rauser played in college at Northwood. O’Rourke played college baseball at Grand Rapids Community College and then Ouachita Baptist, where he played in the NCAA Division II World Series. Zach Breen (Grand Valley State) shared backfield duties with O’Rourke on the ’04 Rams. Breen was co-captain of the squad alongside Klukowski.
“Winning that 2004 state title was a dream come true for all of us.” Klukowski said. “We were a very cohesive team. We ended up creating the championship blueprint for that program. Being the first team to win a football state title at a school like Rockford and for a coach as great as Coach Munger, meant a lot for all of us. We started a tradition and I’m sure we all look back at that accomplishment with a ton of pride.”
In the 2004 state finals, Klukowski finished the game 11-for-15 for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rockford’s defense recorded 5 sacks in the game. Anderson came away with two interceptions from his spot in the secondary.
“Everything came together at the right time,” recalled Klukowski of the run to the crown.
Rockford repeated as state champions in 2005 and returned to the state finals in 2006 for a third-straight appearance. Munger won his third state title in 2008.