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Football season here again

It seemed like just yesterday that the football season came to an end.

But here we are again with another season upon us.

The high school grid season gets underway Thursday night with a couple of games on the schedule.

The most interesting one locally is the meeting of L’Anse and Hancock at McAfee Field. Both teams have hopes of reversing their fortunes from a year ago, but more on that later.

With the exception of Calumet, which was undefeated in the regular season, 2018 was not a good one in the Copper Country.

Hancock, which went to the playoffs in 2017, lost a number of close games early on and never recovered.

Lake Linden-Hubbell, a perennial small school power, also failed to reach the postseason. One interesting fact about that team was that they led in every game they played — even against Ishpeming, Norway, West Iron and Class B Gladstone.

Anyone thinking that Calumet’s loss of 20 lettermen will leave the Copper Kings vulnerable could be disappointed.

CHS coach John Croze, whose team will play on a new carpet this year, merely reloads. He will have a start with all-U.P. players in Alex Studebaker and Drew Bjorn.

The loss of the Ojala twins (Travis and Matt) will be felt, but there is enough returning talent and a talented JV team will help the rebuild.

Hancock returns plenty of talent from last year, including the passing combo of Colton Salani to Austin Salani.

New coach Ramon Sague replaces Ted Holmstrom and has a Hall of Fame coaching staff in former HCHS skipper Dick Salani and ex-Michigan Tech coach Tom Kearly. Don’t look for the Bulldogs to run their fast-break offense as much, however.

Numbers will again be a problem in Lake Linden, but coach Andy Crouch is used to that.

He has a four-year starter at quarterback in his son, Carter, who can pass and run equally as well. Fellow seniors Caleb and Cole Gregoire will also help the team contend for a playoff berth.

L’Anse returns a number of veterans, including tailback Jonah Dowd, who rushed for 800 yards a year ago.

LHS skipper Mark Leaf also has two outstanding newcomers in sophomore Eli Ostermeyer and transfer student Michael Weir. The duo will help on both sides of the ball.

Houghton finished with a 4-5 mark a year ago and had several underclassmen play big roles.

Senior Ty Halonen is a threat both ways, while junior Xander Zapolnik can run and catch for the ball for veteran coach Kurt Huffmaster.

Ontonagon is the only 8-man team in our area and new coach Ray Bramlett faces a big job of competing against foes like former state champs Forest Park, North Central and Rapid River.

Senior Dakota Laingren will need to run the ball and new QB Ike Bramlett will have throw it for the Gladiators to compete.