2017-07-06 / Sports

Sixteen Area Athletes and Coaches Participate in U.P. Football All-Star Game

By Kevin R. Hess


A large contingent of St. Ignace fans attended the 2017 U.P. Football All-Star Game Saturday, June 24, to support the six Saints players and three coaches who participated in the game. Several of them gathered for a group photograph on the field at the Superior Dome of Northern Michigan University following the game. All of St. Ignace’s players and coaches were part of Team Black, who defeated Team Red 19-14. (Photographs by Emily Fullerton) A large contingent of St. Ignace fans attended the 2017 U.P. Football All-Star Game Saturday, June 24, to support the six Saints players and three coaches who participated in the game. Several of them gathered for a group photograph on the field at the Superior Dome of Northern Michigan University following the game. All of St. Ignace’s players and coaches were part of Team Black, who defeated Team Red 19-14. (Photographs by Emily Fullerton) Sixteen Eastern Upper Peninsula athletes and six coaches took part in the 2017 U.P. Football All-Star Game Saturday, June 24, at the Superior Dome of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Recently retired St. Ignace head football coach Marty Spencer coached in his final all-star game representing St. Ignace. New Saints head coach Chris “Iffer” Marshall, and assistant Chuck McCall joined him on the sidelines. Six St. Ignace players were chosen to play in the game, the second most from a single school behind Negaunee, who had eight players. Jared Helms, Drew Marshall, Mitchell Peterson, Kody Rickley, Steve Seccia, and Carter Tallaire were the Saints players.


Six St. Ignace graduates and three coaches participated in the 2017 U.P. Football All-Star Game at Northern Michigan University Saturday, June 24. St. Ignace had the second most players in the game. Only Negaunee, with eight, had more. The players and coaches were part of Team Black, which defeated Team Red 19-14. Pictured here with the all-star game trophy are (back row, from left): St. Ignace Coach Chris “Iffer” Marshall, former Coach Marty Spencer, Assistant Coach Chuck McCall; (front) Drew Marshall, Kody Rickley, Steve Seccia, Carter Tallaire, Mitchell Peterson, and Jared Helms. Six St. Ignace graduates and three coaches participated in the 2017 U.P. Football All-Star Game at Northern Michigan University Saturday, June 24. St. Ignace had the second most players in the game. Only Negaunee, with eight, had more. The players and coaches were part of Team Black, which defeated Team Red 19-14. Pictured here with the all-star game trophy are (back row, from left): St. Ignace Coach Chris “Iffer” Marshall, former Coach Marty Spencer, Assistant Coach Chuck McCall; (front) Drew Marshall, Kody Rickley, Steve Seccia, Carter Tallaire, Mitchell Peterson, and Jared Helms. All players were graduated in 2017 and were selected with input from U.P. high school coaches and sportswriters. Players are divided into two teams, Team Black and Team Red. Players are drafted fantasy draft style; meaning players from the same school could end up on opposite teams. Each team had 45 players.

All of the St. Ignace players were on Team Black. Pickford’s football team was represented by Wyatt Boik, Derrick Edington, and Chuck Goeschel (Maplewood Baptist Academy) on Team Red. Pickford Assistant Coach Garde Kangas was chosen as an assistant coach for Team Red, which was coached by Kangas’ father and Manistique Head Coach, Todd Kangas. Newberry also had three players selected. Riley Pillion played for Team Black, while Adam Hildebrant and John Paramski played for Team Red. Newberry Assistant Coach, Pete Paramski, was an assistant for Team Red. Cedarville’s Derek Burger played for Team Black, while Engadine’s Trevor Brawley, and Sault Ste. Marie’s Tristan Johnson and Jared Sawyers represented Team Red.

“The draft was an exciting time,” said Coach Spencer. “We were fortunate to get all six of our guys and it was good to be able to be with them one more time.”

St. Ignace was well represented in the stands with a large contingent of family, friends, and supporters in attendance to cheer on the Saints players and coaches.

Highlights of the week included practices Monday, June 19, and skill challenges Wednesday, June 21. Several players participated in the Wednesday event that was open to the public. Challenges included fastest man, strongest man, receiver challenge, quarterback challenge, and punting and kicking challenges. Newberry’s Paramski won the strongest man competition for nonlineman, and was the top punter with a boot of 54 yards.

Thursday, June 22, players and coaches visited Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay. Bay Cliff is a year around, nonprofit therapy and wellness center for children and adults with physical disabilities. The players visited during Bay Cliff’s seven-week summer therapy camp that serves children with orthopedic, speech, hearing, and vision disabilities. Player and coaches spent time playing with the children, providing a football camp, and eating dinner with the campers. Coach Spencer had the opportunity to speak during the dinner.

“We’re there to give them a break and play some football with them,” he said. “The campers look at us like we’re heroes, but they are the ones that are heroes. I told our players that this visit would be a life changing experience. For me, this day is the ultimate experience of the whole week.”

Friday evening, June 23, players and coaches were recognized at an all-star banquet at the Bottum University Center of Northern Michigan University. Northern Michigan University alumnus and former college and National Football League (NFL) head coach Steve Mariucci was the featured guest speaker. Mariucci has served as the head coach of the University of California, and the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions of the NFL. He is a native of Iron Mountain, and currently works as a sportscaster for NFL Network. He used football analogies to speak of the importance of creating memories and maintaining close-knit relationships in life.

“He talked about how his favorite thing was the huddle,” said Seccia. “The huddle is where you make a game plan with those close to you to accomplish something together, whether it’s in football or in life.”

As for the game, Team Black defeated Team Red 19-14. Defense dominated the first half, as neither team was able to score. Forest Park’s Dan Nocerini broke the scoreless tie with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Nocerini was Team Black’s Offensive MVP, finishing with 74 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Team Red countered with a score of its own to take a 7-6 lead late in the third. Their lead only lasted three plays as St. Ignace’s Seccia connected with Iver Stenberg of Bark River-Harris for a 76-yard touchdown, giving Team Black a 12-7 lead.

“The first half was kind of boring, but you could tell the second half was going to be back and forth,” said Seccia. “It was a big play. They had just scored and we were facing third down. Iver ran a great route and I was able to hit him in stride for the touchdown.”

Team Red battled back to take a 14-12 lead in the fourth quarter, but a late score by Lake Linden- Hubbell’s Brendan Middleton gave Team Black the lead for good. Coach Spencer’s defense made two interceptions in the final minutes to seal the deal for Team Black. Although the Saints didn’t advance as far as they would have liked during the playoffs, Seccia said it was nice to get a win for Coach Spencer in his last game.

“To be able to win his last game meant a lot,” said Seccia. “I’ve learned a lot from him in football and in life.”

North Dickinson’s Garrett O’Neill was voted Offensive MVP for Team Red, while Kingsford’s Trevor Roberts earned Team Red’s Defensive MVP. Menominee’s Marcus McKenney was named Team Black’s Defensive MVP. Ishpeming’s Ashok Ravindran and Newberry’s Adam Hildebrant earned the Character Award for Team Black and Team Red, respectively.

Coach Spencer says that every U.P. football player should strive to be invited for the all-star game.

“It’s a spectacular week for the coaches and the players,” he said. “We’re treated like stars. It’s not as much about the game as it is the whole experience.”

“It was one of the best weeks of my life,” said Seccia.

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