ESCANABA - It's about the cool crisp smell of autumn leaves in the air and the sound of a marching band muffled by the north wind.
It's a shrill whistle, hot cocoa, and the click of shoulder pads colliding.
School football time in Upper Michigan is filled with warm memories on cold nights.
U.P. Football Champ-ions in 1973 was Escanaba High School. Teammates were: from left front, Tom Pearson, Jim Guindon, Brian Dupey, John Ducheny, Tom Lark, Jim Hansen, Matt Smith, Dan Hutton, Gary Bougie, Tom Suriano, and George King, Pat McCotter; second row, Coach Jerry Cvengros, Pete Greoire, Bryan Berg, Mike Cvengros, Dan Criel, Wayne Schwalbach, Dave Guay, Jerry Derouin, Jim Moberg, Bob Fassbender, Jeff Young, and assistant coaches Jim Hirn and Jim Lindstrom; third row, Lindsey King, Steve Gauthier, Mike Johnson, Dan Rogers, Jim Baker, Dave Anderson, Mike Miketinac, Ernie Murray, Tom Jaeger, Dan Young, Terry Krebs, and Assistant Coach Dan Flynn; fourth row, Jim Rogers, Cliff stratton, Tim Flynn, Lance Collins, Mark Beveridge, Mark Sankovitch, Jack Hirn, Eric Plowman, Terry Larsen, John Blomberg, Jeff Ferrari, Darrel Lancour, and manager Todd Holland; 5th grade, Steve Bergey, Dave Anderson, Kevin Holmes, Mark Rose, Steve Belland, Lester Bingham, Tom Sarnowski, Tim Johnson, Tom Timler, Jeff Kobasic and Randy Lippold.
The 1946 Gladstone High School Braves clinched the U.P. Championship, undefeated in seven games, scoring a total of 203 points to 47 for opponents. The team members were: from left front, Donald Sarasin, David LeGault, Clinton Butler, Clifford Gillis, Capt. Eugene Timler, Jim Thivierge, Richard Rose, LeRoy Young, and Bobby Bizeau; center row, Coach Eldon R. Keil, Joe Thibeault, Norman Marmalick, John Kuchan, John Lieberman, Rudy Jugo, Carl Johnson, Richard Williamson, Gary Soderman, and Assistant Coach Wilbur Taft; in back, Kenneth Lessard, Lawrence Belongie, Alcide Valind, Robert Hart, Richard Moreau, and Morris Siebert.
Holy Name Eighth-Grade Champions of 2012 are: kneeling from left, Brandon Erickson, David Gestwicki, Terrance Butryn, Brett Stalboerger, C.J. Barron, Eric Mallard, and Alex Valentine; middle row, Coaches Earl Campbell and Cris Scheriff, Max Sheriff, Logan Carroll, Dylan Bernson, Jared Ness, Garrett McMillan, Andrew Dykema, Max Dagenais, and Coach Bob Lehouillier; back row, Robert Wils, Dylan Rosenfeldt, Ethan Cooper, Tyler Willette, Nick Bink, Cody Vandermissen, and John Kositzky.
Mom's and Dad's look at football games in two entirely different ways. Mom's go to football games equipped with mittens for everyone, cushy seats, and a blanket or two.
Dad's study the team's roster and peer through binoculars. They dole out money to their noisy youngsters who keep interrupting the game. "Go buy some popcorn, or buy a hot dog, Dad suggests just to keep the kids quiet and his attention on the game.
Mom likes to sit near her lady friends at the game. Dad wants to sit at the fifty yard line where he has a great view of the action.
Most mothers clap and cheer for the team on the outside while praying on the inside, "Please God don't let a single boy get hurt."
At halftime, Mom's enjoy the show, while most Dads have never seen the show because they go to go the restroom, then find an old friend to talk to and return just in time for the second half.
Even though I am not a huge football fan, I have enjoyed the excitement of the game and the team, school and hometown spirit that goes with it. My two older brothers played for the Escanaba Esykmos in the 1970's. Mom and Dad took us little Roses to most of the games. It rained, I think nearly every game time for about four years straight. I recall huddling under sheets of plastic while trying to warm my hands on my hot cocoa.
A big highlight of the home games was when "Burger Chef" was a new restaurant in town, and the cheer leaders got to toss out little plastic footballs that could be redeemed for a cheese burger.
The Escanaba/Gladstone game was a special event for my family. This game was an afternoon game back then. My Dad of coarse is a Gladstone alumni, my Mom was Esky grad class of 1949. My folks argued through the whole game. From which side of the bleachers to sit on to each call the referee made and the age of some of the players. It was a long game.
Years later, when my sister was in high school, I went with so many other fans on a bus to the Pontiac Silver Dome to watch the Eskymos become state champions.
I recall my mom talking about how hard it was to wash football practice jerseys and uniforms. How bad they smelled in that duffle bag and how stained from mud and grass, she complained.
I got a taste of that medicine when my son played on the 7th. & 8th. Grade football team last year for Holy Name. Football clothes stink, but they were undefeated in 2012. My brother Mark's 1973 Esky High School team were State champions. My late uncle Richard was always proud of the photo of the State Champion Gladstone Braves with him in it from 194?.
School football is about memories, good, cold, wet, winning, losing, and cheering. Some football games are wound around perfect autumn days, some compete with snowflakes and wind burn.
But all school football games are about spirit and hometown pride. Happy homecoming to all of our local teams.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba.