Posted tagged ‘Rapid River’

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.

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.