Lake Linden-Hubbell making move to West-PAC for football in 2018

IRON MOUNTAIN — Western Peninsula Athletic Conference will have additional football teams in 2018.

West PAC officials meeting Wednesday in Watersmeet approved Norway, Bark River-Harris and Lake Linden-Hubbell joining the league for football in 2018.

However, Munising’s bid was voted down. Travel was cited as the primary concern.

“Nobody really wanted to leave Munising out,” said West Iron County principal, athletic director and head football coach Mike Berutti. “You feel bad but some of these schools had three-hour (one-way trips to Munising).”

West PAC 11-man football for 2018 will consist of big and small-school divisions. West Iron County, Norway, Hurley (Wis), Bark River, Lake Linden and L’Anse will comprise the small; Calumet, Houghton, Hancock, Gogebic and Northland Pines (Eagle River, Wis.) are the big.

Gogebic – a co-op with Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco — had left the Mid-Eastern Conference after the 2016 season. Ironwood is now a part of the co-op.

Berutti hopes a 2018 West PAC football schedule will be assembled by next week. West PAC teams will also play cross-over games between the divisions.

It won’t be easy (creating a schedule),” said Berutti, noting Iron Mountain will remain a non-conference football opponent for the Wykons. “We’ll put together a schedule and see how it goes from there.”

The Mid-Eastern Conference of Norway, Newberry, Bark River, Lake Linden and Munising will dissolve after the 2017 football season. Norway is a newcomer to the Mid-Eastern after playing in the Mid-Peninsula Conference for many years.

That group dropped to four with Newberry leaving for the Northern Michigan Football League (NMFL). Newberry football coach Fred Bryant told The Mining Journal that the Indians will join the Legacy Division with St. Ignace, Indian River Inland Lakes, Harbor Springs, Johannesburg-Lewiston, East Jordan and Gaylord St. Mary.

Newberry, according to Bryant, had applied to the NMFL a few years ago but was rejected.

With only four schools left, remaining Mid-Eastern Conference members looked for another conference.

According to Norway principal and athletic director Joe Tinti, those four Mid-Eastern schools first approached the Mid-Peninsula Conference. Turned down there, Tinti expressed appreciation to the West PAC for accepting the Knights.

“It’s fortunate that it worked out,” said Tinti, whose school board recently gave approval for Norway leaving the Mid-Eastern and joining the West PAC for football.

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