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Rampage Slip to 0-2 Start

Randy Snow
Sunday February 15, 2004

Even thought it was Valentine’s Day, the Rampage got no love from the visiting Colorado Crush, who defeated Grand Rapids 55-37 on Saturday at the Van Andel Arena. Add this loss to the five-game losing streak that ended the regular season last year, the playoff loss to Detroit and last week’s season opening loss at Chicago and the Rampage have now lost eight consecutive games.

Grand Rapids got on the scoreboard first when quarterback Robert Hall rambled in for a six-yard touchdown in the first quarter. However, the ensuing extra point by new Rampage kicker Wesley Wilson was no good. Wilson was called in on Thursday and flew into town that night when it was determined that regular kicker Nick Gatto had not fully recovered from a hit he received in last week’s game in Chicago while trying to make a tackle on the opening kickoff. Wilson was one for three in field goal attempts against the Crush, converting a 38 yarder in the second quarter, and he was four for five on extra points. Wilson, who tried out for the Rampage in the offseason, has played the last two seasons for the Macon (Georgia) Knights in af2 and was a member of the Macon team that lost to the Tulsa Talons, 58-40, in the af2 ArenaCup championship game last August.

Hall was making his first start for the Rampage. Quarterback Jeff Loots started last week’s game in Chicago, but was replaced by Hall in the second half of the season opening 50-30 loss. Against the Crush, Hall completed 23 of 36 passes for 201 yards, threw for 3 touchdowns, ran for another, and threw 2 interceptions.

Offensive specialist Steve Smith had a kickoff return for a touchdown for the second week in a row. Defensive specialist Cecil Doggette, playing in his 90th Arena Football game, recorded his 400th career tackle.

Rampage head coach Bob Cortese made his home debut in Grand Rapids.

“I feel disappointed,” said Cortese after the game. “It’s hard to find positives in such a tough loss.”

Familiar Faces
Next Sunday, the Las Vegas Gladiators (0-2) come to town and it will mark the return of two former Rampage stars. Quarterback Clint Dolezel and wide receiver Terrell Shaw, who was the MVP of ArenaBowl XV in 2001, will make their first trip back to Grand Rapids since signing with Las Vegas this past off-season.

Football-Hockey Doubleheader
The Grand Rapids Griffins, an AHL affiliate of the NHL Detroit Red Wings, also had a game at the Van Andel Arena that same evening at 8:00 p.m. The Rampage-Crush game kicked off at noon in order to give the arena crew time to convert the field from football to hockey. The normal post game autograph session with players and coaches was held in a large conference room in Van Andel Arena instead of on the field, as is usually the case.

Championship Spotlight
As they did last year, the Rampage will honor local football champions throughout the season. This week they showed a video tribute to the Grand Valley State Lakers from nearby Allendale, Michigan, who won their second straight Division II National Championship this past season.

Pregame Ceremony
Former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Michigan and Super Bowl XXXI MVP Desmond Howard was on hand to sign autographs and also take part in the coin toss prior to the game. Also on hand for the coin toss was new Grand Valley State head football coach Chuck Martin.

Randy Snow covered the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League for ArenaFan from 2003-2008. He also covered the Fort Wayne Fusion of arenafootball2 in 2007. From 2004-2008 and in 2010, he was a member of the Arena Football League Writer’s Association and, since 2011, has been a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Randy lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan but will travel just about anywhere for a football game or a great football story. He runs the web site and hosts a podcast with his son, Adam, called “This Week in The World of Football.”
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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