MARQUETTE, Mich. – Day 2 of the U.P. Football All-Star week has concluded. The second day for both teams saw them settling into their practice routines. Practice was held once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Both teams solidified their personnel and began to implement their game plans. Some players changed positions, based on the needs of the team, and how their talents might best be utilized. The offenses worked on different packages that would fit best with their individual talent. The defenses began developing plans for stopping the different offensive sets. Each practice saw the teams creating better chemistry and improved execution of their plays. Overall, at the end of day 2, these 80+ players from throughout the U.P. looked like two teams who are practicing for a game on Saturday, not a group of individuals thrown together just one day ago.
The biggest challenge to this year’s game is the addition of “motion” to the offense, which was implemented several years ago. Any eligible offensive player can go in motion, which means there is a huge increase in the number of plays which can be run, and many different offensive players become threats to score. It also creates issues for the defense on how they will cover all of the players who may score. The offensive coaches have been busy creating new plays to confuse the defense, and the defense is trying to adjust. We’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out which way the scales will tip in the scoring department.
Tuesday evening was Media Day at the Dome and there was a palpable excitement in the air. Players were interviewed and team and individual pictures were taken. Media on hand included TV, radio and newspapers, all eager to get the players’ perspectives on the game. It was nice for the media to have access to all the players from throughout the U.P., not just their own local players. The players are getting much better at speaking to the media and answering questions regarding what their experiences have been like during All-Star Week. Getting players out of their comfort zones and accepting new challenges is definitely an emphasis for the week, so it is good to see the players accepting these new roles on and off the field.
Wednesday afternoon will see the players performing the Skills Challenges. Players will compete in the Fastest Man, Strongest Man, Quarterback and Receiver Challenge, as well as Punting and Kicking. This friendly competition will lighten the mood for the players, who have been intently focused on their preparation for the game. The players can relax for a while and enjoy the atmosphere. The Skills Challenge is open to the public and begins at 2:00 PM in the Dome.
While the players are testing their physical skills, the coaches have the afternoon off. Spending some time away from the players will allow them to clear their minds and get refocused on the remainder of the week. They too have been working hard to come up with the proper game plan that will utilize all the strengths of their players and give them the best advantage on Saturday, so some down time is exactly what they need.
Upcoming Events: Thursday afternoon will be the Youth Camp (6:30-8PM at the Dome, open to all kids ages 6 and up, free tshirts for the first 100 kids) and Friday is the All-Star Banquet. Check out the U.P. Football All-Star Game Facebook page for pictures and more information. https://www.facebook.com/UPAllStarFootball.