Another camp on a long list

Just the other day, I had the chance to take in football summer drills at L’Anse High.

If there was a bit of deja vu involved, that could be understood because my first experience with football drills took place 47 years ago in the same town.

Life in general, was much different, on that long ago sultry August afternoon.

I had just gotten done with a three-year hitch in the Army earlier that year, and was doing some stringer work for the L’Anse Sentinel.

The Vietnam War was still going strong, although President Richard Nixon had vowed to remove all of our troops earlier in 1972.

But as we all would learn not long afterward, Nixon had not earned his nickname, “Tricky Dick,” for no good reason.

Landmarks like the Bosch Brewery on the Houghton Canal Road and Skufca’s Restaurant in Calumet were still around. Not to mention Broemer’s in Chassell or the Village Restaurant in South Range.

Jerry Bugni was the coach of the Purple Hornets that season and his program was regarded as one of the best in the Upper Peninsula. That sort of respect was earned just two years earlier when LHS won the Barber Trophy, which was symbolic of big school supremacy in the U.P.

Now, Bugni was an old-school type of coach who had learned his trade under similar coaches at Wakefield High.

He taught the basics of the game and believed that his team should be in top physical shape.

But he believed in slipping in a “track” play once a game. Those flea-flickers usually worked, too, and quite often for touchdowns.

Since then, I’ve seen so many summer drills — and coaches — I can’t pretend to remember them all.

I do remember when Ron Warner took over the coaching job at Lake Linden-Hubbell in the early 1970s.

Practicing at hardscrabble Benedict Field, Warner used the conditions there to mold teams that were noted for their toughness.

After 29 years, Warner had 229 wins, numerous conference and playoff titles and two state titles under his belt. Like Bugni, Warner has been inducted into the U.P. Hall of Fame.

The years have flown by like so many flocks of geese in the fall and spring. The coaches and players have come on and gone almost as rapidly.

I’ve had the chance to watch my son and grandson compete in football and other sports.

If my two-year-old great-grandson does the same, I’ll be …. well, you figure out the math.


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