Football all-stars amp it up:
“It’s been a lot of fun bonding with the guys that I’ve played against my whole career.” — Austin Ridl, former Marquette Senior High School quarterback,
MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula’s best senior football talent will face off once again in the 15th U.P. Football All-Star Game on Saturday inside of the Superior Dome in Marquette.
As part of their week-long build-up to the game, the players took part in Media Day inside of the dome on Tuesday evening. Team photos were taken of both teams, and each player got an individual photo taken. Involved in that was each school getting a picture of their representatives, and Marquette County didn’t disappoint.
The Marquette Redmen have a game-high nine players competing in Saturday’s game, nearly split in half among the Black and Red teams. Owen Beauchamp, Chris Ricker, Alex Schlemm and Trevor Simon will don Black, while Desmond Mullen, Justin Jurmu, Wyatt Kuhlman, Dustin Lohfink and Austin Ridl are in Red.
Not only does this game bring the best players in the U.P. together on the same field, but it gives these players from different schools and backgrounds a chance to get to know each other like they wouldn’t have during the season.
There are many reasons why this week is exciting for these recently high school graduates, but for some, it’s clear that it’s more than they thought.
“It’s been really fun so far,” Ridl said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be this fun, it’s been a lot of fun bonding with the guys that I’ve played against my whole career.”
Westwood tied with Menominee for the second-most representatives with seven each. In an interesting twist, all seven Patriots are all on the Black team under their coach Scott Syrjala and former Ishpeming coaches George Niemi and Jeff Olson. Under now-retiring coach Joe Noha, all seven Maroons are with him on the Red team.
The seven Westwood players are Zach Beckman, Marcus Boase, Zach Carlson, Gavin Dawson, Victavian Hanson, Spencer Harvala and Luke Olson. Hanson had come to Westwood from Ishpeming. Not knowing how he’d be accepted, the now graduated group took him in, and are all playing one last time together after an historic season.
“It’s a tight group,” Hanson said. “I transferred from Ishpeming and I wasn’t really a part of the group (when arriving). Now I am, and they’re great people and good friends. It’s been an amazing opportunity hanging out with my friends, and an amazing opportunity to get drafted into the all-star game.”
Negaunee has Bode Bonovetz and Brenten Belanger in the game, while Ishpeming’s Dawson Delongchamp and Gwinn’s Carl Peterson are the sole representatives for their schools.
Another thing about the all-star game that makes it so unique is that players from the same high school can be pitted against each other. Marquette had their nine players on separate teams, but Negaunee will be going “mano a mano” with Bonovetz on the Red and Belanger on Black.
Of course, both Miners are picking their respective team to win but are also proud to be able to represent their school.
“It’s just a huge honor to be here with Negaunee, repping the team, the school, the town and doing the best we can,” Bonovetz said. “I’m excited because hopefully I will get to hit him.”
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to come and play with all these guys and be able to represent Negaunee,” Belanger said. “It’ll be different, hopefully I can see him on the field, too.”
The local talent will be immense at 1 p.m. Saturday inside the Superior Dome, as Marquette County will have its fair share of standout players.
Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal. net.