One last time on the turf: Black beats Red in U.P. Football All-Star Game

Marquette’s Kam Karp hauls in a long pass for the Black Team as Hancock’s Connor LeClaire makes the tackle for the Red Team during the U.P. Football All-Star Game Saturday in the Superior Dome in Marquette. Also pictured are Escanaba’s Tyler Lawson for the Red Team (left) and fellow Eskymo Bryant Maki for the Black Team (right). (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)
Negaunee's Eli Luokkala (0) gestures for a first down for the Red Team after a run by Sault Ste. Marie's Kris Pearce (white helmet with ball) during the U.P. Football All-Star Game Saturday in the Superior Dome in Marquette. Marquette's Ty Lotterman (88) made the tackle for the Black Team. Also pictured are Negaunee's Lukas Nelson (26) and North Central's Fabian Chartier (27) for the Black Team. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

MARQUETTE — One year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual U.P. Football All-Star Game and members of the Class of 2020 didn’t get one last chance to step back on the gridiron to represent their school.

Even though the pandemic is still going on, the 2021 Class did get that last opportunity to compete on Saturday in the Superior Dome and both teams put on a pretty good show before the Black Team prevailed past the Red 38-26.

The big star of the game was Marquette wide receiver Kam Karp, who scored three touchdowns and made some nice leaping catches in tight coverage to earn the Black Team Offensive MVP award. Karp credited his quarterbacks’ abilities to find him for his impressive day.

“I’m gonna be honest, I completely underestimated our quarterback because I didn’t even know who he was before this week, but they did nothing but impress me,” he said. “Every ball that I got today was right on the money and right where I needed it. They did a phenomenal job today.”

Karp will play for Northern Michigan University next year and he’s looking forward to playing in the Dome again in a couple of weeks.

“I’m very excited to see what the future holds,” he said. “It was great to be able to get one game as a high schooler on this turf before I play on it as a college player.”

It didn’t take long for Karp to showcase his skills as he hauled in a long pass for a first down on the game’s first play. Later on that same drive, he hauled in a 13-yard touchdown and with the extra point, the Black Team led 7-0 with 10:54 left in the first quarter.

The Red Team answered back on its first possession on a nice touchdown catch by Iron Mountain’s Caleb Evosevich-Hynes, but the Blacks weren’t shaken. Right before the end of the quarter, Karp caught his second touchdown catch, this one from 16 yards out, and it was 13-7 Black Team going into the second.

Karp continued to dazzle the crowd during the Blacks’ next possession as he dove up the middle on a short touchdown run to extend the lead to 19-7 with 10 minutes left in the half. The Black Team found the end zone one more time before halftime, this time on a pass to Iron Mountain’s Bryce Pietrantonio, and held a big 25-7 advantage going into the third quarter.

The Red Team cut into its deficit in their first possession of the second half on a short touchdown run by Rapid River’s Bryce Lundquist, but the Blacks scored again with 4:53 left in the quarter on a nice diving catch by Escanaba’s Bryant Maki to pad their lead to 31-13 going into the fourth.

The Black Team’s offense kept chugging along after that with Pietrantonio notching his second touchdown catch of the day with 13:11 left and with the extra point, the lead was now 38-13.

The Red Team tried to rally and got two more touchdowns on short runs by Sault Ste. Marie’s Kris Pearce and Bark River-Harris’ Nick Javurek, but the gap was too much to overcome.

Even though the outcome didn’t go in his team’s favor, Westwood alum and Red Team member Garrett Mann was just happy to suit up one last time with some players from around the county. He also put forth a good performance filling open holes in the line and making tackles to earn Red Team Defensive MVP honors.

“It’s been a blast,” he said with a grin. “It’s probably one of the best weeks of my life.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today