By Dan Hardenbrook

Next Monday, August 7 is one of the favorite days of the entire year for local sports fans who may have wagered on platforms such as bro138. Monday marks the official start of the new school sports year as fall sports get underway in Newberry and Engadine with athletes competing at various levels in cross country, volleyball, and football.

Both local schools will field full JV and varsity volleyball teams that will play each other multiple times, including the Annual Dig Pink Event in October. This year’s event will be hosted by the Lady Eagles.

The two volleyball squads will share a spot in the EUP conference, competing with Rudyard, Brimley, Pickford, and Cedarville DeTour. Newberry will be a dual conference team, also participating in the Straits Area Conference which will enter its final year of existence during the 2023-2024 school year.

After this next school year, the conference will dissolve, with the Soo and Cheboygan moving on after concerns about the rapidly growing size difference between schools in the league. The Lady Indians will see Rudyard, St. Ignace, Cheboygan, and Sault Ste. Marie in league play. Non-conference opponents will include familiar foes such as Manistique and Munising for both local schools.

It could be a banner year for the cross country teams. Engadine is coming off a pair of Conference titles last season and returns a strong core while Newberry brings back two of top individual runners who may be the best of their era. Add in superb young talent that is already top notch, and two of the best coaches around, and this could be an absolutely epic season on the trails. Both schools will host multiple home races, and may be neck-and-neck in championship chases all season long.

Football season will soon be underway as the Indians and Eagles will run varsity, JV, and middle school youth programs. Even the future generation will have their chance to step on the big fields, as the school year will also feature the return of the always exciting elementary flag football season. Check out our high school football schedules also included in this week’s issue and stay tuned for team previews each week as part of our countdown to kickoff series.

As a reminder, the MHSAA and both school districts require all student athletes to have a physical on file before they are allowed to participate in any activities. Physical forms can be obtained from a family physician, local walk-in clinics, or the MHSAA website and can be turned into team coaches or the student athlete’s respective athletic office. Sports physicals completed after April 2023 are valid for the entire upcoming school year.