U.P. Football All-Star Game: Transition from 8-man to 11-man is simple for Superior Central’s Steward

MARQUETTE – He’s coming from an 8-man football program to play in Saturday’s Upper Peninsula All-Star Game that will have 11 players on each side of the ball.

Dan Steward of Superior Central High School says it won’t be hard for him to adapt, however, in the 3 p.m. encounter at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

“I played 11-man football since fifth grade and my freshman year (at Munising), so it won’t be much of a transition,” the 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver said Tuesday evening during media day activities. “I’m used to it.

“The field is wider and there will be three more players (on each side), but there will only be man (defensive) coverage in the game. It’s just one-on-one matchups, which I’m used to in 8-man football.”

Steward, who said he caught 80 passes for 2,700 yards and 32 touchdowns in his high school career, earned the Bridge Alliance Conference Special Teams Player of the Year award last season,

He also picked up an All-BAC First Team nod at wide receiver.

Steward said he was “excited” about being asked to play in Saturday’s contest and a little bit “surprised.”

“I didn’t know if I was good enough to be asked,” he said.

Steward has enjoyed the first couple of days of training camp.

“It has been fun,” he said. “A lot of drill work, though, trying to get different plays in because we have a new coach we’ve never played for before.

“The talent here is definitely a lot higher, though I’m not sure if it’s different between 8-man and 11-man players.”

The SC graduate said he’s glad to meet other people “who are just as passionate about football as I am.

“At a small school, you get a lot of players who are only half into it. You just have to show up, where at a large school, you have to try out (for the team.)”

Steward said he’s a teammate of three players he has played against before: Kaden Barbeaux of Cedarville, Kyle Spencer of Engadine and Joe Paquette of Munising.

He said he’s one of only two wide receivers on the East squad of head coach Jeff Olson (Ishpeming) and it will take him “only a couple” of plays to read his defender’s moves.

“I’ll be able to get a feel for what he does, then,” Steward said, “how early he turns his hips.”

A self-described player who’s “smart and runs routes well” but lacks speed, Steward and the Cougars finished 6-3 overall last season under head coach Chris Messano.

The SC senior plans to attend Northern Michigan University this fall under an undeclared major. After that, he may go to the University of Utah for its downhill skiing.

First, however, comes Saturday’s All-Star game.

“I just want to enjoy myself while I’m here and do my best,” Steward said.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.