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Nothing like a football season/Paul Peterson

August 28, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

With apologies to the other sports, football season is the one I look forward to the most.

Maybe it's the special atmosphere of a Friday night prep game. Or the crackling freshness of a college contest on a brisk Saturday afternoon in October. Perhaps it's the anticipation of a big game in the college on Saturday or National Football League ranks on Sunday.

Probably the most exciting sports contest I ever covered was an early October football game in 1984 between Hancock and Lake Linden-Hubbell.

The Bulldogs, who went unbeaten that season, trailed 17-7 at halftime before coming back for a 27-24 win in the final seconds.

Now, we've already begun a new season on the high school scene, with the colleges and pros soon to follow.

The local high school season promises some changes. Calumet, which has dominated locally for years, has a brutal schedule (Negaunee, Ishpeming in the next two weeks) that may threaten its run of playoff appearances. But John Croze-coached teams can never be taken lightly.

If that's the case, a big and physical L'Anse team may step up. The Hornets have one of the biggest backfields seen locally in recent years with Jim Veker and Cody Goldsworthy the keys. They're my personal pick to be the darkhorse in the Upper Peninsula this year.

And if a big Hancock team can shrug off a very disappointing loss to Gogebic in the opener, it can also contend for a postseason berth.

Among smaller schools, Lake Linden-Hubbell likely will return to the playoffs after a "rare" off season last year. The Lakes, who are very young, have speed to burn in the backfield. And they have that great tradition as well.

On the college scene, Michigan Tech faces a very tough schedule. But sophomore quarterback Tyler Scarlett and talented tight end Bryan LaChapelle will provide plenty of excitement for coach Tom Kearly's Huskies.

A late September home night game versus perennial powerhouse Grand Valley State could be one of the highlights of the local pigskin campaign.

Michigan and Michigan State - the area's two favorite big college teams - should also be very good in 2012.

The Wolverines are tabbed as a preseason Big 10 favorite by many observers because of the return of dynamic quarterback Dennard Robinson. But an opening game against a very strong Alabama team could tell us much about those high hopes.

MSU is reputed to have perhaps the best defensive unit in the country. A season opener against dangerous Boise State could badly damage hopes of a big bowl game if they lose.

As for the NFL, look for Green Bay and Detroit both to make the playoffs.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson are the top two players in the league. Without question.

There is very little backup for Rodgers, however. An injury to him would all but dash the hopes of the Pack.

Detroit, on the other hand, has a very capable backup QB in Shaun Hill, should Matthew Stafford be out for any length of time.

The defenses for both teams are somewhat suspect, although the Lions have better personnel on the other side of the ball. Keeping them on the field - and out of jail - will be the big issue.



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