HOUGHTON - Sunshine Saturdays on the shores of Torch Lake are back this weekend, and with an elite matchup to boot.
Lake Linden-Hubbell's home opener against Hurley, Wis., Saturday afternoon leads the local prep football schedule for Week 2.
The Midgets have won at least a share of the Great Western Conference title in each of the last three seasons.
"We've got to rise up and compete with them and I think our kids are ready for the challenge," LL-H coach Andy Crouch said.
Thanks to the Saturday (1:30 p.m.) kickoff and a Thursday game last week because of the Labor Day weekend, the Lakes have had two extra days to prep for the Midgets. There's a lot to focus on. Though Jarret Rhenlund has now graduated after setting a new school rushing record, Hurley has totaled 81 points in blowout wins over Boscobel, Wis., and cross-border rival Ironwood, while allowing just seven.
LL-H is awaiting its first serious test of the year as well, as Plan A was more than effective in a 59-6 road rout of Baraga last Thursday.
"They've got a lot of kids who have a heck of a lot of experience. They run their offense extremely well. They hide the ball well and they have a lot of weapons," Crouch said.
The game is the first of three straight at Warner Field for LL-H. The Lakes welcome North Central and Gogebic in the next two weeks.
Those wanting to get to a Houghton County gridiron tonight have just one option: Westwood at Houghton.
The Gremlins will be hoping their encounter with the Patriots resembles the first, third and fourth quarters of last Thursday's opener with L'Anse (in which Houghton played L'Anse even, 14-14) as opposed to the second (in which L'Anse scored five touchdowns in less than nine minutes).
Westwood will be looking for a do-over tonight as well, as the Patriots had just 76 yards of total offense in a 26-7 home loss to Stephenson.
A long drive is necessary, but a good game is likely for those who travel to Negaunee to watch Calumet play the host Miners.
The teams, who hadn't met in a regular season game since the 1950s, ended up playing two similar games last year. Negaunee won both by a touchdown, 12-6 in the regular season at Agassiz Field and 14-6 in the second round of the playoffs in Negaunee.
The Miners struggled to put away Manistique last week, holding on for the 36-30 victory. Calumet is looking to even its record after a tough loss at Northland Pines, Wis., last week by a count of 26-20.
Northland Pines travels to Ontonagon tonight. The Gladiators are still in search of their first touchdown after a lopsided shutout loss at North Central last week.
In Baraga County, L'Anse is on the road for the second week in a row, this time at West Iron County. The Wykons claimed an unconvincing 7-0 victory at Munising last Friday on a 4-yard keeper by quarterback Andrew Peterson early in the fourth quarter.
Baraga is at home, trying to get back on track against Hancock. The Bulldogs come in off a short week after playing Saturday at Wakefield against the Gogebic Miners, a game ending in a 28-26 overtime loss.