By Dan Hardenbrook
After a year away due to the ongoing pandemic, the Eastern Upper Peninsula Football League has announced it will return for the 2021 season. The league will host a six-team youth football league for 7th and 8th Grade teams from around the region. The Newberry Junior Indians will be part of the league’s comeback to the football field this fall.
Though there was no league season last year, the local Tahquamenon Area Youth Football League hosted a team that played a shortened schedule. With the return of league play, the Junior Indians season will start with their first practice on Wednesday, August 18.
The opening week practices will feature three conditioning and training days, running Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Padded practices will begin Monday August 23, and the team will have three full weeks to prepare for the league season.
The EUPFL includes teams from Rudyard, Brimley, Pickford, Cedarville/DeTour, and St. Ignace. Two league members will not participate this season: Engadine canceled its 7th and 8th grade season due to a lack of players, and Soo Canada is out in 2021 due to ongoing travel restrictions at the border.
The Junior Indians will play a six-game schedule that will rotate from town to town each week. The first five games will take place during regular season; a final playoff week will feature the top two teams from the regular season in the EUPFL championship. During that same playoff week, the third and fourth ranked teams will face off in the third place game, while the fifth and sixth seeds will play as well.
The championship team will receive the Chuck Bennin Memorial Trophy, which is named in honor of longtime Pickford Athletic Director and League Founder Chuck Bennin. Bennin passed away earlier this summer.
Regular season games start Saturday, September 11 in Rudyard. Newberry will play Pickford at 11 a.m. The Junior Indians’ only home game will be Saturday, September 25, when they take on St. Ignace at 1 p.m.
The playoffs and EUPFL title games are set for Saturday, October 16 in St. Ignace.
The Newberry Junior Indians are still in need of players for the upcoming season. Registration is open to all area 7th and 8th grade students, including those from Engadine, Three Lakes Academy, Paradise, or local home school students.
Sixth graders are also welcome to register, but must successfully complete all conditioning days and safely complete a certain amount of padded preseason practices before being allowed to play in games.
Any family that is interested in their child playing can contact Dan Hardenbrook at (906) 450-2750 or Zach Clickner at (906) 291-1381 for more information.