Wildcats kick off at Dome in spring game: Football team concludes season with match against each other

William Burns

The Northern Michigan University football team held its annual spring game on Saturday, April 20 at the Superior Dome, playing a game that brought fans and community members together to allow the Wildcats to showcase their new team.

The ’Cats host a spring game each year in which there is no competitive value and the objective is for the school to promote the team and give the squad’s new recruits a chance to play in a game open to the public.

The game is played between the Wildcat’s offensive team and the defensive team with the scoring system different than a normal game of football.

The teams can earn points by accomplishing goals such as earning first downs, plays that go for 20 or more yards and defensive sacks.

Head coach Chris Ostrowski said the spring game is one of the best ways to gauge the team’s progress throughout the spring training sessions and he is pleased with what he has seen so far.

“I think it is very important that people are playing the right positions,” Ostrowski said. “I think the spring game does that for us. It gives the coaches a chance to get a lot of film and make sure we got our guys in the right spots. We have played a lot of spring football with a lot of live contact.”

Not only did the team give their new recruits a chance to play in a full-contact match, it also gave fans the opportunity to play alongside the Wildcats. A young boy was selected from the crowd to participate in play on field, where he received a handoff from senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak and rushed the ball 60 yards for a touchdown.

Ostrowski said having the young boy participate accomplished the team’s goal of making sure that everyone had fun during the game.

“There was no question that we had fun,” Ostrowski said. “It was awesome seeing that young man run for a touchdown. That is a thrill that he will be able to take with him for the rest of his life.”

The spring game also recognized former Wildcat players from 1965 to 1972. The former Wildcats returned to Northern Michigan University to gather for reunion activities and reconnect with alumni.

Among the alumni recognized was former University of Michigan football head coach Lloyd Carr. Other hall of fame athletes included Byron Johnson, Tom Watson, Guy Falkenhagen, Richard Ambrosino, Dennis Porter and Jack Spuhler.

Junior quarterback Dustin Thomas said he was impressed with how good the team has gotten over such a short period of time.

“I think the team as a whole saw how much better we were able to get in the short amount of time,” Thomas said. “As far as the conference I’m not really sure where we would stand but after spending 15 practices around such a talented group of athletes, I am excited to see what we can accomplish as a team come fall.”

The season is still several months away but the next time the Wildcat football team will hit the gridiron will be against the University of Findlay at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Superior Dome next season.