By Dan Hardenbrook

The countdown to kickoff is on and the 2022 high school football season is just days away. Both the Newberry Indians and the Engadine Eagles return to the field to begin brand new seasons this week, with conference games right out of the gate to set the tone for the action and intensity that the next couple of months will bring.

The Indians are looking to take another step in 2022. After reaching the second round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, veteran coach Joe Austin brings back a squad loaded with talent. This might be the deepest roster the Indians have had since they made the move to 8 Man Football.

Despite all of the success last year, with a 7-2 overall record and an opening round playoff win at Pickford, the Indians are looking for even greater success this season. A win over rival and conference favorite Munising, a Great Lakes 8 East Conference championship, and a regional playoff title are all greater goals that the team didn’t achieve last season.

Their 2022 season starts on Thursday night when the Indians travel to Brimley to battle the Bays in a Great Lakes 8 East matchup. The Indians demolished the Bays in last year’s season opener and will be heavy favorites again this time around.

The Indians have been dedicated to getting better in the off season. Their renewed focus has bonded the coaching staff and players, putting everyone on the same page coming into the new season.

The Indians prepared themselves by participating in a highly competitive scrimmage in Indian River last week with sessions against Inland Lakes, Rogers City, and Mio.

Brimley tuned up with a pre-season scrimmage against Cedarville-DeTour, Onaway, and Central Lake. The Indians and the Bays will meet up as part of a JV/Varsity doubleheader, with the JV game starting at 4 and the varsity game to follow.

Down in Engadine a new era has led to increased excitement for the new season. With no JV team again this year, it will be a young Eagles squad looking to end a two-year losing streak. New coach Charlie Fosdick has connected well with his players, and Engadine is working hard to put the pieces together for the new season.

One advantage for Fosdick: He coached many of the current Engadine players as middle schoolers in the Junior Eagles Youth program and knows their strengths.

The Eagles will open up on the road against the Rapid River Rockets, another tough team in the league that also has a new head coach. Both sides will look to get a strong start to their rebuilds by sending a statement in week one. The Eagles and Rockets will play Friday night at 7 p.m.