By Dan Hardenbrook

The Newberry High School football program has a rich history, spanning generations of people who laid the groundwork for current and future Indians football players. Traditions that stretch back over a century have tied the past and present together, and now many of those who truly bleed orange and black are using that bond to build a brighter future for football in Newberry.

Under the leadership of new Head Coach Zach Clickner, and spearheaded by former player and longtime coach Jeff Puckett, the Newberry football program has launched the Newberry Football Quarterback Club, an organization that will support to local football athletes and teams, hoping to create new legacies on the gridiron.

“This is an idea that we have been kicking around for many years,” said Puckett, who is still a diehard Newberry Football supporter. “Some other football fans and some of the other coaches and I wanted to put together a group of fans of Newberry football – whether that’s former players, coaches, parents, cheerleaders, or whoever, that enjoy supporting the Newberry football program. We finally decided that now with a new coach coming in, that this was the time that we should try to start this club.”

The Newberry Football Quarterback Club will hold an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23 in the conference room of the Luce County Ambulance Building. It is open to anyone who wants to join or help.

Puckett has high hopes and believes the group can impact teams and the community in several ways.

“We are really hoping to come in and have a two-fold purpose for this club. One will be a social and community aspect, where we will promote Newberry High School football and the positive things we are doing here,” he said. “We are going to try and get everyone in their orange and black, decorate and get businesses in their orange and black, involve the residents, get signs in yards, and bring everyone together to get excited about Newberry football.”

Coach Puckett aims to bring people together by connecting coaches and players with members in the community through different meet-and-greet style including team meals, tailgate events, gameday activities, and more.

The second major focus of the QB Club will be financial. The group intends to do fundraise through possible membership dues, donations, or projects. The funds will assist players with needed items and allow the coaching staff to purchase things to lead the program safely.

Tahquamenon Area Schools will still fund the program, but with declining budgets and rising costs putting a limit on what they can provide, the Quarterback Club will attempt to take care of needs that aren’t covered but are still required for the program to operate.

Potential items or needs include participation costs and equipment when families can’t afford it. This helps remove barriers for some athletes, allowing them to be part of the team. It’ll also help with transportation to games that are several hours away, items that need to be purchased or updated frequently to meet safety standards, and items to assist the coaching staff as they train the athletes.

Puckett also understands that local businesses and organizations, such as the local Tahquamenon Area Sports Boosters, are hit hard by donation requests, but continue to support as many kids and causes as possible. That’s why the club will turn to a widespread alumni base that proudly once called Newberry home to see if they can assist.

“Just recently I’ve talked to several alums outside of the area who have heard about this and want to be involved in some way and lend a hand to these kids in some way,” Puckett said. “They want to give back to that program that was so important to them.”

That support also continues to build here at home.

“Even locally in the community, there may be a lot of people who used to be football fans or supporters and for whatever reason chose to stop or couldn’t stay as involved,” Puckett said. “Maybe their children or grandchildren graduated and moved on, maybe they had things that kept them from attending games on a regular basis, maybe they lost interest or weren’t supporters of moving to 8 Man Football. I know they would love to be a part of something special again. So hopefully we can bring them back in.”

Listen to interview with Coach Jeff Puckett: