Upper Peninsula All-Star football players keeping busy as annual game approaches

MARQUETTE — Activities for this week have been finalized in the lead-up to the 11th annual Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game to be played at the Superior Dome on Saturday afternoon.

Monday was check-in for players and coaches at Northern Michigan University, which included a morning food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul pantry. Organizers said more than 1,500 pounds of food was collected.

Brief team meetings were held in the afternoon, followed by their first practices.

This evening, media day will include team and individual photos to be taken at the Superior Dome. Interviews will also be conducted then.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Players Skills Challenge will be held at the dome which includes titles for fastest and strongest players, for top receivers. Quarterback, kicking and punting challenges are also included.

On Thursday, coaches and players visit the Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, now a signature event of the week.

The players will spend time with campers as the all-stars each take a turn standing in front of everyone and introducing and telling something about their roommate for the week.

Following dinner with the campers and staff, players join them in a traditional flag-lowering ceremony at the central square that ends each day at Bay Cliff.

On Friday evening, the All-Star Banquet includes a guest speaker still to be announced. The banquet provides family and friends a chance to connect with players after a long week of practice and activities.

The players again introduce and say something about their roommate to the assembled audience, while also being recognized for Skills Challenge accomplishments and receiving all-star rings.

The game itself is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the dome, with doors opening at noon.

For the second straight year, rosters for the Red and Black teams were decided at a draft conducted by coaches and held in March.

Proceeds from the game will benefit Beacon House, the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame and Westwood and Menominee high schools.

Determination of the school was held through a lottery, which has helped or will help all U.P. school football programs. Several other schools — this year it is Bark River-Harris, Gogebic, Ontonagon and West Iron County — will also receive donations of all-star game equipment, including practice jerseys and footballs.

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