Marquette’s Kameron Karp again a star: Wins 3 events at Upper Peninsula Football All-Star skills challenge

Negaunee's Preston Toutant, center, sacks L'Anse quarterback Alex Kissel on a fourth-down play early in their high school game played at the Miners' field in Negaunee on Oct. 2. Also chasing on the play for the Miners is Parker Cain, right. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — The first three days of Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game week featured a check-in and charitable food drive, multiple practices, a media night, and the highlight of the first three days, the Players Skill Challenge on Wednesday afternoon.

That was according to emails sent out by Todd Goldbeck of the Xcel Foundation, which will conduct the 14th annual game to be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

Players were divided into teams based on a draft conducted remotely by coaches in the spring.

Thursday’s highlight was the scheduled Youth Football Camp to be held for kids ages 6 and older at the dome in the evening.

Tonight is the annual All-Star Banquet before the game is played the following day.

Marquette's Kam Karp, center top, gets his hands on a well-placed Austin Ridl pass despite triple coverage by Muskegon Reeths-Puffer's Tayte Vanderleest, Caden Brainard and Ayden Willacker in the first quarter of their MHSAA Division 1 high school football playoff game played at William R. Hart Stadium in Marquette on Oct. 31. Karp was unable to maintain possession. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Here are some highlights of the first three days of the week:



Eighty recently graduated senior football players and 14 coaches checked in while also conducting a food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

Organizers said the huge quantity of food collected — all players contributed — is a testament to how the players are supported by their U.P. communities.

Marquette's Kameron Karp, left, dives to the inside of Menominee defender Aidan Bellisle and breaks the tackle after receiving a screen pass from quarterback Austin Ridl en route to a Redmen touchdown in the third quarter of their high school game played at the William R. Hart Stadium in Marquette on Sept. 18. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Each team, the Red and Black, completed two practices on Monday at the game’s location. For numerous players, it was their first time being on the dome field and playing and practicing on the artificial turf.

Team Black head coach Chris Thomson of West Iron County includes from his school staff Mike Berutti, Kevin Grundy and Jim Kralovec.

The staff also includes former Ishpeming High School head coaches Jeff Olson and George Niemi, both past All-Star and MHSAA playoff coaches, along with Arrowhead, Wisconsin, coach Fritz Rauch.

For Team Red, head coach Al Stenberg of Bark River-Harris brought Kevin Mileski from his staff and is joined by Westwood High School coaches Brad Wiljanen, Luke Gray and Eli Wolf. Wiljanen and Gray have coached in the game before, while Gray actually played in the game after his senior year at Westwood several years ago.

Other coaches are past All-Star coach Mike Christian of North Dickinson and first-time All-Star coach Tom McKee of Brimley.

Both head coaches have a son in the game — Nathan Thomson is the son of Chris Thomson, while Riggens Stenberg is the son of Al Stenberg.

Coaches and players all had a chance to work on positions new to the players, something that isn’t always possible on smaller-rostered high school teams.



Following morning and afternoon practices, the more than 80 players and 14 coaches assembled for media day that evening in the dome. It included a number of photo opportunities, while coaches talked about their teams and extra permutations available in their game plans with the addition of motion to the offense that began in 2019.



Kameron Karp of Marquette Senior High School, who is Northern Michigan University-bound to play both football and basketball, was the competitive star of the Players Skills Challenge, winning three titles.

This Black Team member was the fastest in the 40-yard dash among non-linemen, electronically timing 4.64 seconds. He also was the winner of the punting contest with a 60-yard boot and winner of the receiver challenge among non-linemen.

The other winner from an area team was Preston Toutant of Negaunee, who won the receiver challenge for linemen. It was also reported that Toutant, member of the Red Team, nearly won the field goal kicking competition, which eventually was taken by Hancock and Red Team member Connor LeClaire after his boot of 45 yards bounced off the crossbar and through the goal posts.

One Challenge record was broken and another nearly so.

Daylan Lujan of Sault Ste. Marie of the Black Team won the strongest man competition among non-linemen, pushing 23 repetitions of 225 pounds each in the bench press, which beat the previous record of 19 reps set by fellow Soo All-Star Kyle Root in 2013.

And Joe Haire of Menominee and the Black Team threw a pass 57 yards to win the quarterback challenge. That throw moved him into a tie for the second-longest throw all-time in the event.

Here are other Challenge results — fastest man–linemen, Domini Bonnee, Pickford, Red Team, 4.95 seconds in the 40-yard dash; strongest man–linemen, Pete Noblet, Gladstone, Black Team, 15 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

The other players gathered around and cheered the competitors on during these events that included friendly rivalries, too.

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


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