Archive for July 2013

Photo of the Day: Gatorade Shower for the Flivvers

July 23, 2013

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Just found this picture in my gallery from the UP Tennis Finals at Marquette Senior High School this afternoon. The picture says the whole story here. The Flivvers took home the UP Tennis Team Title with 21 points and head coach Mark Shanks gets the celebratory shower from his team after a great team victory. The kids were planning this type of celebration the whole day and it was a hot day in Marquette so it was nice for Mr. Shanks to take a shower a little early…

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Top 31 Moments in the UP! #25 – First look at 8 Man Football

July 22, 2013
Photo by Grandpa Camo

Photo by Grandpa Camo

This countdown has brought up conversations discussing multiple sports that take place during all four seasons in the Upper Peninsula. #25 in the countdown will be about a sport I did not even know existed until I showed up to Eben Junction and saw Superior Central take on Bellaire on August 31, 2012 to shoot some 8 man football.

The concept is relatively simple. Instead of 11 boys playing on both sides of the ball, there are only 8 playing on offense and defense. The field is also constructed differently, The size of the playing field is often smaller in eight-man football than in eleven-man. Some teams opt for a smaller, 80-yards long by 40-yards-wide field.

In terms of gameplay, eight-man football is quite different from its eleven-man counterpart. Due to a smaller field and fewer players, the tempo of the game is noticeably faster-paced. Scores tend to be higher, even in high school games where quarters are only 12 minutes long (rather than 15).

Especially in high school, a higher percentage of plays are trick plays; direct snaps, Wildcat formation plays, and fake punts and field goals are somewhat more common.

I had no idea what to expect from this game going into it but all I have to say is that I was extremely entertained and it was a blast to watch. I watched Rapid River, Mid Pen, Superior Central, Cedarville, and Bellaire play. Two of the best offenses that I watched were Superior Central and Rapid River. The Rockets and Cougars both averaged 37 points per a game last season.

The Cougars had Trevor Maki at QB and Dan Steward at WR and that one two combo was hard to stop. For the Rockets of Rapid River, QB Jake Pearson was unstoppable with his arm and his legs. His teammate RB Eli Orth did a fantastic job finding the end zone with his good speed and soft hands coming out of the backfield.

What I loved so much about this style of football was the amazing plays that are created by the coaches and players. In the first highlight. Go to 0:30 seconds in and you will see a perfectly executed fake field goal for a two point conversion. In the second highlight, at 8:00 mark you will see a nice option by Mid Pen and then a nice long run by Rapid River to counter attack.

But my favorite play of them all is when I went to see Rapid River take on Brimley on September 4th 2012. The moment takes place at the 7:30 mark in the last video. The snap to Jake Pearson on third down goes over his head about 15 yards so he has to run and recover it but what happens is he turns up field and returns it all the way to the end zone breaking tackles by all 8 players. It was sure fun to watch. Definitely one of the better ways to play the game of football.

Photo of the Week: Mariano Stands Center Stage

July 18, 2013

Via New York Times:

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Mariano Rivera took center stage in the All Star game and produced a 1-2-3 8th inning for the American League. What made the inning special was the long standing ovation by the crowd and both dugouts during his warm up pitches. The whole scene just gave me and probably most of America goosebumps after such a great display of respect for a remarkable person and player. We may never see “Enter Sandman” enter that stage ever again so it was good to see the best closer in baseball history go off as MVP…

Forest Park star Lexi Gussert will take her talents to East Lansing to be a Spartan at Michigan State

July 18, 2013

Good news coming from the Upper Peninsula today. 2014 Senior Lexi Gussert from Forest Park has announced that she will be attending Michigan State University and letter in basketball.

lex lexi gus… I am a huge fan of Lexi Gussert as a person and as a basketball player. Whenever I watched her play this past season she was very unselfish, scored at will, and was the best teammate on the floor. I am so proud of her decision and I am very happy that she is staying in Michigan to play for the Spartans so she can always display that UP pride in East Lansing. The best part about the announcement is that she can have a great senior year at Forest Park and her family can live in peace and happiness. Sometimes student-athletes get bogged down with their big decision during the season and it becomes a distraction and can affect their game. I am glad she took the high road and got the decision out of the way before the start of the basketball season. I know she will do big things for head coach Suzy Merchant when she gets to campus in 2014 because she is a winner and will do anything to be successful. Now the goal for this high school senior is to bring a state title back to Crystal Falls and to become Mrs. Basketball in the state of Michigan. I am so excited for Lexi and I can’t wait to watch her play college ball in the future. She is turning into a Spartan after being a Trojan for the past four years…

Top 31 Moments in the UP! #26 – “Teenage Dream”

July 15, 2013

DPP_GG00047Continuing with the countdown I was doing research on the sports news in the upper peninsula and I came across an article stating that the first round of the UPLGA has been completed and all the high seeds advanced. That brought back to mind one of my favorite days during July when I saw a young 16 year old junior from Marquette Senior High School win the ULPGA Championship at Indian Lake Golf Course in Manisitque on July 18, 2012. Her name was Avery Rochester.

In the championship match held that afternoon, Avery beat seasoned veteran Polly Anderson of DePere, Wis. in match play 4 and 3 but she did it in remarkable fashion. On the 15th hole, she sunk a 20-foot birdie putt to seal the deal. (You can see the shot on the highlights below) 

I had never been to this golf course and I never got to watch Avery play during the High School season because I started working at TV 6 in June when the season already finished. When I got to the first tee of the championship hole I saw Avery and Polly and I thought this was going to be “David vs. Golliath” match but it was actually the opposite.

After seven holes Avery was 3-up, but Anderson stormed back to win the next three holes to even the match heading to the back nine. So you thought this is when the tides were turning? That was not the case. This Redette had an immense amount of composure as she won the next four holes in a row starting on the 12th.

I had never seen anything like that before in my time up there. When I parked my car outside the golf course, I saw Avery walk out of a trailer next to the station car and I thought to myself, “She won this tournament staying in there the whole week? That’s extremely impressive for a young teen who probably just celebrated her sweet sixteen this past year!”

Now here is the quote of the entire moment. When I asked at the clubhouse how she felt about being crowned UPLGA championship she said, “I don’t really know what to feel right now. I’m happy, I’m excited, it’s just overwhelming,”

Avery is such a fun girl who cherishes every moment and doesn’t forget anything. I wish her all the luck going to University of Missouri to play golf. She will do great as a Tiger for the next four years!

Mets Matt Harvey gets the nod to start the All Star Game for National League

July 15, 2013

Via ESPN:

mets_rNew York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey will become the first major league pitcher in nine years to start an All-Star Game in his home ballpark.

National League manager Bruce Bochy named Harvey as the NL starter for Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field. The last pitcher to start an All-Star Game in his home ballpark was Roger Clemens with Houston in 2004.

Harvey will join Clemens as well as Esteban Loaiza (Chicago, 2003), Pedro Martinez (Boston, 1999) and Steve Rogers (Montreal, 1982) as the only pitchers to start an All-Star Game at home since expansion in 1961, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“What a tremendous year he’s had,” Bochy said of Harvey. “It really wouldn’t have mattered what city we were playing in; with the year that he’s had, the impressive numbers that he’s put up, he would have been the starting pitcher.”

Among NL qualifiers, Harvey ranks first in strikeouts (147), second in WHIP (0.92) and third in ERA (2.35) and opponent batting average (.196). He has taken three no-hit bids into the seventh inning this season.

Harvey said he came into the season motivated to step up and fill the void created by reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey‘s departure.

“It was a role I wanted to take and something I took pride in,” Harvey said. “Having this opportunity and getting the nod is one step closer. I’m very proud of it, and obviously it’s more drive to keep going and hopefully not make this my last All-Star Game.”

This is huge for Mets fans all around the country. The fact that Flushing has not hosted an All Star Game since 1964, Bruce Bochy needed to do something big for the organization and the city. He made the right decision going with the young ace. I am very excited to see #33 take the mound tomorrow and deliver in front of a packed Citi Field crowd. I expect him to be very effective and pitch a few scoreless innings while making the American League look silly striking out at the plate. The lights are now shining bright on this 24 year-old and that is just the way he wanted it to be…

Top 31 Moments in the UP! #27 – Battle of Rockets and Wolverines

July 12, 2013
Justin Marietti |Daily Press

Justin Marietti |Daily Press

High School Basketball in the UP can be described in one word, “Heart.” The passion the kids display on the court every time they play, the mom’s and dad’s in the bleachers cheering on and watching their child play for their hometown, and the fact these athletes represent the city name on the jersey rather than just a mascot or a school name.

So on a cold night in Perkins on December 28, 2012 I witnessed a few things I had not seen before in my entire life. (Watch highlights below)

I got to the game at half time after covering the first few minutes of the Superior Central at Gwinn. The scoreboard read Rapid River Rockets 25 Mid Peninsula Wolverines 15.  I thought to myself, “What? That is not the score. Rapid River has not won a game all year!”

Then I saw Daily Press reporter Justin Marietti and he told me as time expired in the first half, Rapid River’s Robert Metter made a three at the buzzer and Rapid River fans in attendance went crazy. I was in for a tremendous second half. It was so good, it created a lasting memory in my mind.

The Wolverines kept chipping at the lead in the third quarter with points in the paint and the Rockets went into the fourth quarter clinging to a 37-34 lead. While they may have had the lead, the momentum clearly changed in the third quarter.

That’s when the monster himself came to life, Double B aka Brett Branstrom. He grabbed big rebounds, went coast to coast with speed and athleticism to finish at the rim, and not to mention showing that shooting touch by knocking down a big three with hands in his face. He finished with 27 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks. I had not seen a player all season up to that point put a team on his back. He became a star in my eyes right after seeing that performance. It truly was an incredible display of perseverance by the senior.

But here was the key play! The game was tied at 45, Brett Branstrom block a shot on defense that turned into an outlet pass to Chad Branstrom, who was fouled at the basket. Two free throw shots were in order until a Rapid River fan went ballistic in the stands about the previous call by the referees and started to yell and point at the two gentlemen working the game.

So the zebras stopped the game and threw the fan yelling at the refs out of the gym which resulted in a technical foul on Rapid River Coach Craig Carter. Now those two free shots turned into four in just a matter of minutes. Mr. Chad Branstrom proceeded to hit all four free throws to secure the 54-49 win that night.

I had never seen anything like that before in my life. The game was basically decided on a technical foul. The lead went from a tied game to a Wolverine four point advantage with under 2 minutes remaining. The Rockets fan base were so upset with the referees calls in the second half, every play resulted in screaming and yelling. The gym got loud and changed from excitement to anger in just a matter of 12 minutes. Crazy!

The lesson I learned from that game was let the kids play and allow the kids to make the difference in the game, not the parents. It’s something that is ongoing in youth sports in this day and age and it showed in this high school basketball game just days before the New Year. I think a lot of fans made a few New Year’s resolutions after driving home from that contest.