ROCK, Mich. (WJMN) – For the last decade, the Mid-Peninsula Football facilities have sat vacant. The program has been dormant since 2012 due to a lack of numbers.

In 2019 a co-op was started at Superior Central that allowed kids from the Mid-Pen community, a chance to get on the field.

Thanks to a student-led effort to bring football back to mid-peninsula, the wolverines will be taking the field again next season on their own.

“We all wanted to because we didn’t want to travel all the way to Superior Central,” said Caleb Lofquist, a Junior at Mid-Pen High School. “That’s a long drive for a lot of us and a lot of us didn’t have licenses and we didn’t have enough room to carpool. That was the big thing because a lot of us wanted to play football. Football brings something to schools that is different. Like a homecoming, or football games, it’s just a whole different feeling for people. We kind of felt like we were missing out. We’re a small school and we don’t have too much here. We thought that football would add a lot to our school.”

It’s not easy to get a football program off of the ground. One big issue the student-athletes faced was finding a head coach, but thanks to some good timing and perhaps a little luck the Wolverines found the perfect candidate.

“They’re the ones that actually had the team put together before I even got a phone call,” said Sam Eggleston, the head coach for the Wolverines. “I stepped down at Superior Central and a couple of weeks later they gave me a call and asked me to come in and talk. The kids had already been out recruiting with the idea that they wanted to get this program back and they haven’t missed a beat.”

“We were lucky because the day that we did this was the day that Coach Sam posted online about him resigning from Superior [Central]. We thought well he is a Mid-Pen alumnus so we thought maybe he would come and coach here for us.”

“I graduated here in 1998 and played on this field actually and this was the first place I was ever a coach as an assistant coach when they first became 8-man in 2011 and I coached here for a few years before the program closed down.”

The biggest challenge Eggleston had to tackle as head coach was finding enough players to field a team. With just 45 total kids enrolled, Mid-Peninsula High School is the smallest public school in the state of Michigan.

“So, 45 kids makes it definitely a challenge, you know, trying to get enough kids to come out. You know, 15 is our minimum and you know that’s 1/3 of our school right there. So, the numbers game seems like it could be a problem but we’re getting a pretty good turnout here so we’re happy with that. The other challenge is having to get all the equipment. Everything that was here was at least a decade old. So, helmets aged out and shoulder pads were in disrepair, we had no footballs and all the good stuff. So, we had to get all that and get it all ordered. With all the supply issues that have been a little bit of a challenge as well.”

In the spirit of Aaron Rodgers they threw up a hail mary pass hoping for a miracle….and it was answered in a very big way by the Green Bay Packers.

“They got a hold of us and told us that they had some cleats for us, 40 pairs of really good cleats. They sent about 100 pairs of receiver gloves, and mouthguards, they sent some dummies, and a tackling pad for us. So, that saved us a ton of money. It got all of our kids equipped so that we can run all of our drills and run our routes without having to worry about slipping.

“We were all freaking out and ecstatic,” said Lofquist. “A lot of us are Packer fans.”

“It was just awesome,” said Eggleston. “To have that from basically our local NFL team, you obviously the Detroit Lions, but the Packers are three hours away and they treated us like they were local and we really appreciated that they were willing to do that.”

Rumor has it that some of the cleats they were given also saw some real NFL action.

“I was one of a couple of the football players that went out to Green Bay to pick them up,” said Lofquist. “So, when went out there and we were opening the bags and we were pulling out and looking at the numbers, we were Googling them. We pull our Randall Cobb and Dane, one of the players, has Jaire Alexander’s on right now. Dave Bahktiari’s shoes, we were freaking out. The idea of wearing the same shoes a Packer players kind of like blew our minds.”

The generous donation from the Packers will have the kids well equipped for next season. It also was a huge morale boost for the players.

“They talk about the shoes all the time, the gloves, trying to guess who might have worn them. They’re all just super excited that the Packers came out and helped them out. Most of them grew up Packers fans, the vast majority of the team is Packer fans so there has been just a lot of chatter and they’re really proud that they’re wearing that gear that came from Green Bay.”

Because of the effort and dedication of these student-athletes who have worked hard to bring football back to the Mid-Peninsula, the roar of the Wolverines will be restored to the community next season.

“We’re hoping for a lot of fan support,” said Lofquist. “The first home game we’re hoping to have a tailgate party. We’re going to go out and help the community a little bit. Just get ourselves out there, get ourselves known, and hopefully pack the stands and maybe more for games.”

“It’s just really exciting that we’re going to bring it back out here, that the Wolverines will be back on the field under the lights on Friday night and just getting that roar back and just the things that made me so proud to be a student here and to be a football player, those are the things we’re going to try to instill and get that back in the hallways. The Mid Peninsula School Board has been behind it 100% and the superintendent has been pushing to help us out in any way that they can. So, it just feels like everybody is involved, everyone wants this and everyone is embracing it. Beyond that, the community talks about it and it’s just been energizing. Anywhere you go someone is bringing it up and asking how things are going that feels really good knowing that everyone is watching.”