2017-08-09 / Sports

THE PRESSBOX

Relaxation of summer nears its conclusion
BRANDON POPE

Pretty much everyone, especially in Michigan, looks forward to summer. The weather is nicer, the kids are out of school, and the overall feeling is much more relaxed. That’s what it’s like in our department as well. Don’t get me wrong; we love what we do, but during the school year, the five of us are constantly trying to keep track of every varsity sport at 20 different high schools.

This is currently our last week of laid-back summer coverage before we begin pursuing coaches for season preview information. Although I definitely enjoy the summer break, I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming football season. Obviously, I love college and professional football, but even before I was a sports writer, I always had a passion for high school football in this area.

This year will begin the first round of many conference changes, which will begin an interesting string of years to come. This will be the year of LakeVille’s one-year stint in the Genesee Area Conference-Red before moving on to the brandnew Mid-Michigan Activities Conference. For those of you who follow Lapeer, you’ve also got a new conference opponent in Bay City John Glenn, and in a year, you’ll have another with Grand Blanc.

This whole whirlwind has been crazy at every turn, because those previously mentioned moves are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to future seasons. The North Central Thumb League has expanded to a 16-team, two-division format in football and geography doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, there are teams as far from the thumb as Lawrence and Flint International Academy.

Even the first week of the season should be interesting. Once again, Lapeer will open the season at Michigan Stadium against Clarkston. This has turned into a budding rivalry between the two schools, but the results haven’t exactly gone in favor of the home team. The Lightning are talented, as usual, but just like last year, they’re going to be quite young and this game will definitely be a challenge.

Davison also opens the season in a big way by taking on Southfield at Wayne State. The Cardinals had a historic run last year by running the table in the regular season, and star running back Tariq Reid returns for his senior year. This will also be a challenging match-up as Southfield is no slouch, either. The Warriors had a solid campaign last year before bowing out in the regional title game.

What I’m looking forward to the most, though, is the brand-new Vehicle City Gridiron Classic. It will consist of a triple-header on the opening night of football at Kettering University’s newly-renovated Atwood Stadium in Flint. It makes for three compelling matchups between Goodrich and Bendle, Flushing and Linden and a classic rivalry of Grand Blanc and Carman-Ainsworth.

These opening-week series at large stadiums are becoming a trend, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at every major stadium in the state in future seasons.

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