The Advertiser years. I dug out my box of goodies that had a bunch of old papers from my days at the Tuscola County Advertiser.
Before I get into the discussion stage, here’s a slideshow of my page fronts from the Advertiser from my Visual Editor’s portfolio:
So what stands out from those days from late November 2001 to March 2006?
- Part of it was the football previews. I’ve said before that I’ve really enjoyed putting them together. From my box of goodies I have, the 2002 football preview is in there. It was a solid 20-page broadsheet and now that I think back, it is my very first football preview.
- Covering Caro’s run in the playoffs in 2002, going all the way to the state semifinals. The Tigers had a great bunch of athletes, super receivers with two stud linemen. Their trigger-man, Wynn Michalak, was a great kid both on the field and on the mat. The most memorable part of their trek was their big win against Menomonie at Cheboygan in a regional final. I predicted the Maroons would win on the radio. Yeah, I ate crow that time.
- I tried to get some of the players together for a fun photo or graphic ahead of the playoffs. The graphic was something I did about a week before the district and then there would be a breakdown of the respective teams. Some of them flopped, but it all started with maybe my best run at it – getting five players from five schools to stand in the middle of the road near Mayville. What really made it work? The police closed the road so I could shoot the photo. It was right after I made the switch from news to sports.
- There was so much good basketball, especially in the boys. Steve Cramer at USA, Jordan Bitzer at USA, Vassar’s Daniel Smith, Mayville’s Justin Draves, Caro’s Andy Fisher and his Chuck Taylors, the solid teams of Kingston, Cass City’s big-time shooters and Reese’s line changes. The coaches were great. It’d be a disservice to call them characters, but their characteristics were tremendous.
- I was glad to see schools like Akron-Fairgrove and Mayville work hard to overcome years of misfortune and when they made their respective runs in sports like football or softball, you were glad to see them do well.
- There were the Howards over in Cass City, too. Great volleyball that they played. The teams were tied into districts that at times were pretty tough, such as with powerhouse New Lothrop when both were in Class C.
- I can’t forget Reese’s drive, too. Down at Whittemore-Prescott, the Rockets drive the length of the field, get the benefit of a couple of key penalties, and score the game-winning touchdown with seconds left. It was a breath-taking game.
- And I’d be awful if I didn’t discuss the state champions – the 2003 Caro Tigers wrestling team, the 2004 USA football team. There were several near misses, too, with USA basketball reaching the Class C finals in 2005. But the annual trips to Battle Creek for softball – for Reese or Unionville-Sebewaing helped pave the way for seeing great softball for all of these 10 years.
- Looking through more of the stuff I’ve saved, I’d say my masterpiece special section was the 2005 football preview. Great stories, great previews, great photos, great content and laid out beautifully. It came on the heels of another great personal triumph.
- That triumph was the Division 7 state championship game where, through some prodding, the Advertiser was able to blanket the crowd with a congrats one-shot newspaper congratulating USA on its title, with the MHSAA’s permission. It’s something you see on TV all the time, champs carrying a paper. We did it first in Michigan prep sports history. And I drove that bus. That’s where the Glorious pages – one the handout, the other a poster – come from.
Those five years, though, would not have been the same without Paul Adams. Paul, who finally was named the Huron Daily Tribune sports editor, covered many of the games together with me – from some of the biggest Sugar Bowl games between Reese and USA to the great road trips to state cross country at Michigan International Speedway to state track in the Grand Rapids area. Along with Paul, there was Tom Devitt and Justin Shepherd. Once the house-cleaning began at the Advertiser, our crew of four changed to a trio with Chris Ogryski.
And perhaps the one lasting memory was my last night covering Thumb sports. It was a district basketball game in Marlette. Word was out. I was leaving days later for Wisconsin. And following the game, the post-game handshakes, the folks there thought enough of the work I did to thank me publicly for work I did at the Advertiser.
I will never, ever, forget that.