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Kings-Lakes grid meeting a natural?/Paul Peterson

September 26, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

Geographically, Lake Linden and Calumet are located just four miles from each other.

But when it comes to their respective football teams, that distance might as well be a thousand miles away.

That's funny because the two schools compete against each other in just about every sport offered.

The Lakes and Copper Kings go toe-to-toe in basketball, volleyball and track.

But the two local powers haven't met on the gridiron since the late 1990s.

For a time in that decade, they even played for a prize called the Copper Island Trophy. And while the Lakes, who were very good in that period under coach Ron Warner, usually got the best of things, there was a different atmophere at their games.

Crowds estimated at well over 3,000 fans flocked to Calumet's historic Aggasiz Field, and what is now known as Ron Warner Field in Lake Linden, to see the hard-hitting games.

Once upon a time, you would only get that kind of electricity at a Houghton-Hancock football meeting. Sadly, that rivarly has waned in recent years when it has just become another game on the schedule.

Actually, the L'Anse-Baraga annual meeting in the Battle of the Bay has contained more intensity in recent seasons than a Copper Bowl.

I've heard various reasons why Calumet and Lake Linden-Hubbell no longer play each other in football.

One reportedly had to do with an ugly incident following the last meeting when a few boneheaded Calumet fans did some damage at Warner's property. I can't verify that, however.

Another much more valid reason has to do with the number of injuries both teams were picking up in what was the season-opening contest. And the Lakes, with a roster often numbering less than 20 players, couldn't afford to lose starters.

But I think the main reason is that both schools decided to go their own way in the schedule department.

Under Scott Boddy - and later John Croze - Calumet has gravitated towards toughening its schedule.

The Copper Kings have resorted to scheduling big-time opponents like Gladstone, Marquette, Ishpeming and this year, Negaunee. The strategy has paid off as CHS has now built one of the better large school programs in the Upper Peninsula.

Andy Crouch took over after Warner retired in 2002 and has maintained a strong program within the confines of the tough Great Western Conference. The Lakes are still regarded as one of the very best small-school football powers in Michigan.

For us media types, the prospect of the Kings and Lakes clashing remains alluring. A game between the two finest programs in the area is hard to resist.

But I think back to a comment the Mendon High football coach made after his team won a state Class D title a few years ago.

When asked why his team didn't play neighboring Schoolcraft (a perennial state Class C powerhouse) more often, he replied:

"What sense would it make for us to beat each other's brains out every year like we used to do?"

That made a lot of sense back then ... and it still does to this day ... when pertaining to the Calumet-Lake Linden-Hubbell situation.



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