Fall sports start practice this week

IRON RIVER—The countdown to the fall sports season began in earnest on Aug. 6 when football players reported for practice at both West Iron County and Forest Park.
    Practices for all the other fall sports—volleyball at both schools and girls tennis at West Iron—can begin on Aug. 8. The first volleyball matches can be played Aug. 17.
    Football players may wear full pads starting on the fifth day of practices. The first games will be played on Aug. 24, when West Iron County hosts Munising in the expanded West Pac Conference and Forest Park travels to Superior Central in the new Great Lakes Eight Conference.
    West Iron will host four other games this season: Calumet on Sept. 14, Lake Linden-Hubbell on Sept. 28, Ishpeming on Oct. 6 (homecoming) and Norway on Oct. 19.
    Forest Park will have five home dates this season: Carney-Nadeau on Aug. 30, Pickford on Sept. 7, Stephenson on Sept. 14, North Central on Sept. 28 (homecoming) and Ontonagon on Oct. 12.
    On Labor Day weekend, Forest Park plays on Thursday (home against Carney), while West Iron plays Friday at Bark River-Harris.
    In terms of rules changes, the receiving team now has a new option when the kicking team commits a foul on a kickoff or punt. The receiving team can now accept the penalty and have the awarded yardage tacked on from where the play ended.
    The options are: accept the penalty and have the kicking team re-kick; accept the ball on out-of-bounds kicks and take possession 25 yards from where the kickoff occurred; or decline the penalty and start where the ball went out of bounds. The idea of the change is to reduce the need for re-kicks.
    In another change, players who don’t wear or are missing required equipment during a down will be replaced for one down. This will replace a yardage penalty for delay of game.
    There are a few minor changes in volleyball rules, also, but the biggest change by far is tournament classification: Starting this fall, Michigan is changing from the Class A-B-C-D system in favor of four equal divisions.
    Class will no longer will be used to organize the postseason for any sport—and this change will also effect girls and boys basketball starting this winter, resulting in new district opponents in many cases. All other Michigan high school sports previously switched from classes to divisions.
    The post-season tournament schedules are:
    --Girls tennis: U.P. Finals, Oct. 2 to 6.    
    --Cross country: U.P. Finals, Oct. 20.
    --11-player football: Selection Sunday, Oct. 21; pre-districts, Oct. 26-27; district finals, Nov. 2-3; regional finals, Nov. 9-10; semifinals, Nov. 17; finals, Nov. 23-24.
    --Eight-player football: Selection Sunday, Oct. 21; regional semifinals, Oct. 26-27; regional finals, Nov. 2-3; semifinals, Nov. 10; finals, Nov. 17.
    --Volleyball: districts, Oct. 29-Nov. 3; regionals, Nov. 6 and 8; quarterfinals, Nov. 13; semifinals, Nov. 15-16; finals, Nov. 17.