Upper Peninsula football all-star coaches draft players onto teams

Ishpeming High School head football coach Jeff Olson walks out onto the Hematites' field with several of his players, acknowledging former Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech University football coach Bernie Anderson, at right, before a game against Iron Mountain in 2015. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — It may still be three months until the 10th annual Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game is played in late June, but on Saturday, coaches had the opportunity to pick players to be on their teams.

Instead of the teams being divided in their traditional way by geography, either East vs. West or North vs. South, players were drafted by coaches similar to fantasy football leagues.

“We wanted to do something special and different this year to celebrate it being the 10th year of the event,” Xcel owner and president Todd Goldbeck said. “It adds another dimension by having players from the same school play against one another.”

And the 26 area players who were chosen for the game were split right down the middle, 13 for the Red Team and 13 for Black. They represent nearly 30 percent of the 90 players drafted.

Before the draft started, seven players whose fathers are coaches in this year’s game were automatically placed on their father’s team. They included John Paramski of Newberry, son of Red coach Pete Paramski, and Isaac Olson of Ishpeming, son of Black coach Jeff Olson.

With the Red Team having four players in this situation and Black just three, it made it a natural decision to have Black draft first.

The Black staff opened the draft by picking Dan Nocerini of Forest Park, with Red following with Russ Bjorn of Calumet as its initial pick.

The Red Team also includes these area players — Brock Aho of Negaunee, Jake Arnold of Manistique, Kody Beauchaine of Superior Central, Travis Christensen of Marquette, Sam Collins of Negaunee, Corey Cotey of Munising, Wyatt Goodwin of Marquette, Adam Hildebrant of Newberry, Eric Hurst of Negaunee, Jacob Paquet of Negaunee, Jalen Skinner of Gwinn and AJ Triplett of Superior Central.

Black will also have these players from the area — Matthew Beck of Baraga, Chandler Brown of Negaunee, Tanner Dellangelo of Ishpeming, Carter Ghringhelli of Gwinn, Austyn Hollingshed of Gwinn, Ryan Johnson of Gwinn, Riley Pillion of Newberry, Michael Pizziola of Negaunee, Ashok Ravindran of Ishpeming, Shane Ring of Negaunee, Caleb Scroggs of L’Anse and Neal Violetta of Negaunee.

Of the six area schools with multiple players in the game, Ishpeming’s three players, Marquette’s two and Superior Central’s two all remained together.

Not surprisingly, Negaunee’s eight players were split up, and it just happened to be a 4-4 split. Three of Gwinn’s four players are on Black while two of Newberry’s three are with Red.

After the draft was completed, the coaches were happy with the teams they had selected.

“Our strategy was to choose the best player available,” Jeff Olson said. “We have very vocal kids and we know what our players can do.”

“This is an equal way to divide the teams,” Pete Paramski said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought game and hopefully Red can prevail.”

Now that the coaches have selected who they want, they will spend the next three months deciding where to play everyone, on either offense or defense, and how the players will fit into their game plan.

The game is on Saturday, June 24, at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

Information on the game, including full rosters, is available online at www.xcel.net and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UPAllStarFootball/.

Email Julie Goldberg at sports@miningjournal.net.