U.P. Football All-Star Game

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Banquet Speakers & Videos
2022-Rick Popp
2021-Andy Crouch (Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Head Coach)   Video
2019-Jeff Olson (Ishpeming High School Head Coach)   Video
2018-Jeff Olson (Ishpeming High School Head Coach)   
2017-Steve Mariucci (NMU NCAA Champ, NFL coach/analyst)   Video
2016-Bob Landsee (former NFL player-Eagles, U.P. Native)   
2015-Rob Rubick (former NFL player-Lions, U.P. Native)   Video
2014-Bill Santilli (Forest Park High School Head Coach)   Video
2013-Jeff Olson (Ishpeming High School Head Coach)   Video
2012-Eric Beverly (former NFL player-Lions, Falcons)   Video
2011-Lance Leipold (Univ. of WI-Whitewater Head Coach)   
2010-Mike Maslowski (former NFL player-Chiefs)   Video
2009-Dave Carl (National speaker/motivator)   Video
2008-Steve Mariucci (NMU NCAA Champ, NFL coach/analyst)   Video

Past All-Star Game Information
2022   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Black 54-28
2021   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Black 38-26
2020   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Game Cancelled-Covid
2019   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Red 42-28
2018   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Black 14-7
2017   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    Black 19-14
2016   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    North 28-21
2015   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    North 35-25
2014   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 41-24
2013   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 19-13
2012   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 42-14
2011   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 28-20
2010   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 21-14
2009   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    East 21-6
2008   Home    Rosters & Profiles    News    West 38-14

History of the Game


The U.P. Football All-Star Game first started in 1946. The idea was conceived by Negaunee High School Athletic Director, Oscar Wassberg, who envisioned an annual football game comprised of the U.P.’s top high school gridders who had just graduated. There was no official title to the game, other than “U.P. All-Star Game”. The All-Star Game was played at the Negaunee Playgrounds, with the players sleeping on cots in Negaunee High School’s gymnasium for the first year. In an effort to stop U.P. coaches from organizing a U.P.-exclusive event, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) declared that Michigan high school coaches and officials could not be associated with the game, under penalty of suspension from coaching and officiating for a year, possibly longer. The game appeared to be doomed after only one year. A "recreation committee" was formed, and with O.J. “Moose” LaCombe as the director for the second year, the game continued using Wisconsin coaches, and other coaches with various U.P. ties, to head the teams. The game was played for four more years, under the direction of Edward Stevens, ending for unknown reasons in 1951. The All-Star Game was played a total of six years, from 1946-1951.

1946: North-21, South-7                           1946 Newspaper Articles & Pictures
1947: North-25, South-6                           1947 Newspaper Articles & Pictures
1948: South-6, North-0                             1948 Newspaper Articles & Pictures
1949: South-7, North-0                             1949 Newspaper Articles & Pictures
1950: South-6, North-0                             1950 Newspaper Articles & Pictures
1951: South-13, North-7                           1951 Newspaper Articles & Pictures

Past to Present

Melvin “Matt” Syrja played in the 1949 All-Star Game as a newly graduated Negaunee High School student (#1 in the 1949 All-Star team picture). Matt received his BS degree in Secondary Education from Northern Michigan University and his MS from the University of Michigan. He taught mathematics and science at Gwinn High School for 27 years. Matt served in many different roles within the school and community, including being the math department head and coaching many different sports and extracurricular activities. Matt married Elaine Larson, from Suomi, and had 5 children, Steve, Jim, David, Dennis and Jodi. Matt passed away in 1998, but his daughter, Jodi, would make the connection which would lead to the all-star game being started again, 59 years after he played in one of the last.

Jodi attended Northern Michigan University for both undergraduate and graduate school, and was living in Madison, WI when she met her future husband, Todd Goldbeck, a native of Madison. Todd attended UW-LaCrosse, where he played football and graduated with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Todd started Xcel Sports Training, a company that specializes in presenting events called Recruiting Combines. Combines are designed to test high school athletes in various physical categories, including speed, strength and agility, with the results being sent to colleges across the country. The purpose is to help those athletes pursue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. Todd learned of Matt’s involvement in the 1949 All-Star Game and that was the initial motivation for starting the current U.P. Football All-Star Game.

The Present U.P. Football All-Star Game

Xcel was performing a Combine at the Superior Dome in 2006, when the idea of having an All-Star Game just for U.P. players was suggested. Michigan has an all-star game, which is held in Lansing each year, but with over 700 high schools in the state, the entire U.P. often will only have 1-2 players selected to participate. A U.P. all-star game would provide many more U.P. players the opportunity to take part in the event. It was talked about briefly with some parents and athletes, but only as wishful thinking. The concept of a U.P. all-star game was apparently the topic of water-cooler discussions and bar debates for many years prior (probably since the last all-star game in 1951). At the 2007 Superior Dome Combine, the idea was again raised, but this time, it was met with an excitement not matched by the year before. It was decided at that time that Xcel would take on the task of organizing the game. The passion for U.P. high school football, displayed by the players, parents and fans, will be the signature for this event for years to come. For many, the year 2008 marks the first U.P. Football All-Star Game, but it is simply the continuation of an event that started a long time ago. It will always be a tribute to the players and coaches of the 1940’s and 1950’s, who had the determination to start something new and special for the U.P. The modern version of the game pitted East vs. West, and stayed that way for the first 7 years (2008-2014). In 2015, the game switched to a North vs South format to create new player and coach match ups. In 2017, for the 10th anniversary, the players were selected by the coaches in a “fantasy-style” draft, and that “draft” style continued for the 2018 installment. Enjoy the game!

Please contact Xcel if you have any information regarding the past All-Star Games. We wish to include as much history as possible on the website. (todd@Xcel.net)

U.P. Football All-Star Game

Yooper Bowl

U.P. Football All-Star Game Trophy

U.P. Football All-Star Game Ring