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Week’s culmination: This afternoon’s game ends traditional set of activities for Upper Peninsula Football All-Stars

A pair of Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game players rake topsoil at a local Habitat for Humanity house on Wednesday as part of the activities that led up to this afternoon’s game. (Photo courtesy U.P. Football All-Star Game Facebook page)

Today’s game: U.P. Football All-Star Game, 1 p.m., Superior Dome, Marquette; live streaming on Fox Sports radio and WLUC-TV6 websites; televised broadcast on Fox-U.P. at 11 a.m. Sunday

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MARQUETTE — The new organizers of the Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game largely left alone the schedule of the game and the week’s worth of activities leading up to it.

Dustin Brancheau of AdvantEdge Sports Training in Marquette and his group knew that originator Todd Goldberg had built a successful event since the game was reintroduced in 2008.

This afternoon’s game, at 1 p.m., culminates a week’s worth of activities. The contest between Team Red and Team Black takes place at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome in Marquette.

A pair of Upper Peninsula Football All-Star Game players use tools at a local Habitat for Humanity house on Wednesday as part of the activities that led up to this afternoon’s game. (Photo courtesy U.P. Football All-Star Game Facebook page)

Tickets cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door, with the dome’s doors opening at noon. Children ages 6 years and under get in free.

The game will be broadcast live on several internet streaming services — the Fox Sports radio streaming page at uplocalsports.com/fsm.html, and also on WLUC-TV6’s streaming service that is available on its website.

In addition, Fox-U.P., a sister station to WLUC, will televise today’s game at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The game began in 1946 and was held for a few years before being discontinued. Goldberg picked it up again 16 years ago, and other than the COVID pandemic year of 2020, has run it annually each summer since.

Goldberg announced in the aftermath of last year’s game that he was stepping down, and after initially not being able to find a successor, announced the game would again be discontinued.

But Brancheau, a 2005 graduate of Ishpeming High School who also attended Republic-Michigamme High School, and his group at AdvantEdge came forward and were able to announce the game was on again just a few weeks later in August.

Brancheau could appreciate the game as he went on to play football at NMU.

He’s also brought in more video and social media opportunities to the game with a group that includes several with expertise like Kobe Manzo of NMU and Nehemiah Lacar of Negaunee.

This week’s schedule follows much of the same pattern that Goldberg established, which started back in March when the all-star coaching staffs held a draft to select players for each team like they have been doing for about a decade.

This week, the traditional player check-in was held Monday, media night on Tuesday and a dinner banquet on Friday evening.

But Brancheau said that Tuesday’s media day also included a night practice, while Wednesday’s activities included a visit to a local Habitat for Humanity house, where all-star players and coaches helped with the house’s landscaping, including bringing in topsoil, edging, mulching and placing sod.

A “combine” that included elements of past skills competitions was also held Wednesday.

Thursday was a regular practice day, after which players watched “Do It For Daniel,” a documentary recounting the story of Daniel Olson, the son of former Ishpeming High School and U.P. all-star football coach Jeff Olson.

A U.P. Football All-Star after his senior year as a Hematite, Daniel Olson was a star athlete at Ishpeming who also battled depression and anxiety before taking his life after moving away from home and beginning college in 2012.

Jeff Olson and his wife, Sally Olson, have worked tirelessly to speak about mental health in the hopes of erasing its stigma, and along the way averting suicide, in the years since.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 552. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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