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Rockford legend Ralph Munger retires after 28 seasons with Rams, amassing 335 wins in 40 seasons of coaching

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, December 13, 2019, 9:55 am

Rockford coaching legend Ralph Munger has decided to retire, leaving on his terms, and with the Rams’ 25-year playoff streak intact. 

The school announced the decision in a media release Friday morning, with a further news conference scheduled for the afternoon.

“It’s been an awesome, exciting, challenging and successful 28-year run … it is following much thought and reflection over the last three years I feel it best for myself to step out proudly and cheer on the efforts of Rockford’s next head coach,” Munger said in the release. 

Munger retires with 335 wins — good for sixth-most on the all-time list in Michigan — over his years in Frankenmuth (1980-91) and Rockford (1992-2019) and led the Rams to three state titles: 2004, 2005, 2008.

Rockford superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler hired Munger in 1992, bringing him across the state to replace the retiring Harve DeGood. 

“Coach Munger has a knack for building and leading a solid and knowledgeable coaching staff,” Shibler said in the release. “He has positively impacted and helped mold the lives of hundreds of student-athletes who were fortunate to play under him. Coach Munger exemplifies Ram Pride and leaves an unprecedented legacy.” 

Four of Mungers Rockford players — Ben Braden, Parker Ehinger, Adam Kieft and Joe Staley — went on to play in the NFL.

Munger was elected into the Rockford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame this past fall. 

Munger took the Rams to the playoffs at 8-2 in his first season in Rockford, then went 1-8 and 3-6 in the next two seasons, before making it back into the postseason in 1995. The Rams haven’t miss the playoffs since then, needing to win their last two in 2017 to make it in as an automatic qualifier, then rallying from a 1-3 start in 2018 to make it in at 5-4, extending the postseason streak to a quarter century.

Munger was hospitalized on the eve of the 2019 season with a heart condition that necessitated quadruple bypass surgery on Aug. 9, but he was back at practice by Sept. 17, helping the Rams prepare for what would be a 34-21 win over Muskegon Mona Shores three days later. 

Longtime assistant Randy VanderVeen led the Rams to a 3-0 record in Munger’s absence. 

Rockford plans to further honor Munger’s legacy with a celebration at a later date.