U.P. draft day

Player selection Saturday for 12th annual football game

Westwood quarterback Nathan Beckman hands off to Patriots running back Ashton Bergman in their game at Calumet on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by George Leinonen)

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game has enjoyed competitive success since it went to a “fantasy draft” to pick teams for its annual June game at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

So for the third consecutive year, organizers will choose teams that way. The draft will be held at Buffalo Wild Wings in Marquette at 6 p.m. Saturday, with the public invited to watch and social media planning to report live on the selections, according to Xcel Sports Training owner Todd Goldbeck, the organizer of the game. Picks will also be posted live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UPAllStarFootball.

This 12th annual all-star game will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, which is the culmination of a week of events leading up to the game.

Those events include a food drive, media day, players skill challenge, a visit to Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay and an all-star banquet.

For its first nine years, players were split geographically, either in an East-West or North-South matchup. Now there are the Red and Black teams, with their coaching staffs scouting and selecting teams that may put school teammates or have them on opposing sides.

Goldbeck released a list of the 91 players involved in the game, which includes 31 from area schools — six from Ishpeming, five each from Marquette and Westwood, four from Gwinn, three each from Negaunee and Superior Central, two each from Munising and Newberry and one from L’Anse. Players must be seniors who have exhausted their high school eligibility.

Virtually every U.P. football-playing school is represented, including Bark River-Harris, Brimley, Calumet, Cedarville, Engadine, Escanaba, Forest Park, Gladstone, Gogebic, Iron Mountain, Kingsford, Lake Linden-Hubbell, Menominee, North Central, North Dickinson, Norway, Ontonagon, Pickford, Rapid River, Rudyard, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Stephenson and West Iron County.

Area coaches are also well represented this year.

For the Black, it will consist of Westwood and Ishpeming coaches, including Patriots head man Scott Syrjala and the recently retired head coach of the Hematites, Jeff Olson.

Their assistant coaches will make up the rest of the Black staff — Brad Wiljanen, Scott Mann, Chad Hewitt and Jake Wolf of Westwood; and George Niemi, Mike Walker and Kyle Rundman of Ishpeming.

The Red coaches include Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson and Manistique head coach Todd Kangas. The Red staff includes Emeralds assistants Cody Kangas and Tyler Kangas, along with Garde Kangas of Pickford and head coaches Mike Berutti of West Iron County and Mike Christian of North Dickinson.

Proceeds from the game will be donated to the Beacon House of Marquette, the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame and to Brimley and North Dickinson schools.

Equipment, including practice jerseys and football, will be donated to Westwood, Manistique and Sault Ste. Marie high schools.

Here are the area players listed for Saturday’s draft:

Gwinn —

Seth Aho, Mason Bockert, Ed Chapman and Tucker Taylor

Ishpeming —

Logan Kruhlik, Devon Nyman, Hunter Smith, Drake Sundberg, Gavin Sundberg and Matthew Trawick

L’Anse —

Reese Waara

Marquette —

Bryce Brazeau, Alex Cannoot, Josh Iwanicki, Ethan Martysz and Beau Zorza

Munising —

Anthony Mattson and Mason Schieding

Negaunee —

Peyton Anderson, Brayden Velmer and Alex Zampese

Newberry —

Brandon Christiansen and Jaylen James

Superior Central —

Roubens Fink, Noah Groulx and Beau Rondeau

Westwood —

Nathan Beckman, Ashton Bergman, Sam Gilles, Blake Hewitt and Hayden Mann

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.