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2010-06-23 / Sports

Local football scene takes a hit with Lions folding

BY MICHAEL SELECKY
810-425-2632 • mselecky@mihomepaper.com

The Lapeer County Lions in action during their inaugural 2008 season. FILE PHOTO The Lapeer County Lions in action during their inaugural 2008 season. FILE PHOTO LAPEER — After going 0-10 last year during the regular season and 0-11 overall as a member of the United States Football Alliance’s Western Conference-North Division, the Lapeer County Lions spent this past offseason contemplating their place in the universe, and with the 2010 semi-professional football season in full swing the squad’s absence from the local landscape is one that’s never been officially addressed.

Because the Lions ended their 2009 campaign with 2-0 forfeits against the Grand Rapids Thunder on Aug. 8, the Northwest Ohio Raiders Aug. 1, and the West Michigan Force July 25, the stage had been for the team to either buckle down or bow out, an issue Lapeer County General Manager Robert Benson addressed at http://michigansemipro. proboards.com /index.cgi?action=display& board=general&threa d=4469&page=1#46916 on Oct. 20, 2009 with the following post:

“For the record, the Lapeer County Lions have not folded. Due to the majority of the players not fulfilling their financial and participation obligations the ownership decided to initiate a lock out. We feel that is the problem with this level of football. Players bounce from team to team acting in a manor that is harmful to the organization as a whole. After giving several warnings, the remainder of the games where canceled. This was very unfortunate for the teams remaining on our schedule, but if all of the other owners took the same approach eventually we would maintain a higher class of players. The Lapeer County Lions are here for the long haul and expect the same out of our players.”

Fast forward to the present day and every email address listed for the coaching staff on the Lions website comes back as invalid, http://www.hometeamsonline. com/teams/Default.asp ?u=LAPEERCOUNTYLIONS& t=c&s=football& p=home, a development the USFA was only briefly willing to address.

“(The Lapeer County Lions) are no longer a member of the USFA, and as far as I know the team no longer exists,” said USFA commissioner Danial Marshall.

The Lions’ slide into anonimity can actually be traced back to the 2008 offseason, where the team simply didn’t put in the necessary work. What this translated to was losses of 24-14 to the now defunct Michigan Admirals on May 30, on June 6 Lapeer County fell to the Motor City Soldiers, 25-15, and on June 13, the Lions were bested by the West Michigan Force, 40-14, to start the 2009 campaign. From there the team continued spiraling downward with defeats of 20-6 on June 20 against the Battle Creek Blaze, on June 27 the Thunder got over to the tune of 48-3, and after a week’s rest the Lions came back on June 11 to get beat by the Admirals once again, this time by a 28-14 margin.

In 2008 Lapeer County played its initial season as a member of the North American Football League and held its home games at Almont High School before playing last year at LakeVille High School, a move the team tried in vain to revive with a document on its myspace page dated Sept. 29, 2009 titled, “2010 Changes to Player Contract”, that includes:

“The 2010 participation fee is $300.00 with no season ticket sales. Participation fees have to be paid in full prior to our scheduled tryout/combine in January. If your participation is not paid in full you will not be able to attend the combine and will not be considered a Lapeer County Lions Minor League Football Player. No exceptions and no late payments accepted. Payment arrangements can be made now ($25.00 a week until the $300.00 is met). Take advantage of the advance notice and don't let this opportunity pass you by. No late payments accepted! NO EXCEPTIONS!”

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