The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Semi-Pro Football: they've still got what it takes

Written by David Green.


Intermission was almost over Saturday afternoon at Morenci’s Henry Geisler Field. Two quarters of football were finished and the second half was about to begin.

A few fans stood along the fence watching the visitors from Battle Creek loosen up for more combat. The Rattlers had formed a calisthenics circle and jumping jacks were underway.

“Look at #55,” someone said. “He’s only moving one leg. It looks like he’s dancing.”

The rotund lineman had taken the jump out of jumping jacks.semi-pro

“How about #77? He’s not moving anything.”

This guy, perhaps a little more rotund, stood completely still, just moving his arms up and down. He had a smile on his face. He knew he was dogging it, but what did it matter? It’s not like they would cut his pay.

This was the day semi-professional football came to Morenci. It came here because of the persuasion of Jonnie Tompkins, running back for the Motor City Cougars. Tompkins is always driving to Detroit for practice and for games. This time the team came to him.

They didn’t come only for Tompkins. There’s also wide receiver Ryan Speiser and lineman Bart Thompson. All three former Morenci High School players are out to show that they’ve still got what it takes to play football.

The second half is ready to begin and the Cougars’ kickoff team is one player short.

“Thompson!” someone yells, and Bart, one of the team’s youngest at 19, buckles his helmet as he heads onto the field. The Rattlers’ receiving man takes the kick and breaks through a pair of tackles. It’s Thompson (Class of 2001) who finally makes the stop near midfield. Bart’s still got what it takes.

The Cougars look like a Morenci team with only 19 players showing up. The coaching staff on the sidelines consists of only one man. Jonnie Tompkins’ daughter and a friend are filling water bottles and his wife, Anne, is helping out.

 Several players are going both ways without a break. That, combined with the heat, is making it tough on these “older” fellows.  Back in the first half, the Cougars completed a long drive for a touchdown, then lined up for the kickoff.

“We need two!” someone cried from the field.

Some of these guys needed a break. They weren’t all that anxious to get back in by 7:09 in the second quarter.

For a fan accustomed to high school ball, the sideline chatter might come as a surprise.

“Man, I was *&%$#@ there!” complained a Rattler after he missed an interception.

“You finally made a tackle, 99, you *@$#&±.”

That was a Rattler on the sidelines giving a Cougar lineman a hard time.

“Come in for me, DiPalma,” says a Rattler defender as he walks off the field. “One play, two plays.”

A sideline tackle nearly runs over a Rattler sitting along the edge of the field. He says he’d have to come up with a good explanation for cleat marks across the face.

“My mom doesn’t even know I’m playing football.”

As the clock winds down toward the end of the game, the taunting grows.

“You $%^&(* guys are nothin!”

“Push him !@$#%&Ø back! He can’t block.”

But #99 did get his block and Jonnie Tompkins picked up a first down. Two plays later he threaded his way through another one.

“If he didn’t have to go both ways, he’d be a beast,” says an impressed Rattler from the sidelines. Tompkins (1989) still has what it takes.

The Cougars’ starting quarterback is at home healing from an injury, but former wide receiver “Magic” •• is doing an admirable job. He had attempted a few passes throughout the game, but nothing the Morenci fans were interested in seeing.

Then it came, with just 1:33 left to play. Ryan Speiser runs deep to the left corner almost to the end zone. The pass is a little overthrown, but the former Morenci standout leaps high to haul it in for a touchdown. Speiser still has what it takes, too, just like Morenci fans saw in 1996

The Rattlers win the contest 21-13 and the players head to the center for the traditional lineup of handshakes.

It’s nothing like high school football, not with the size of the players, the ages of the players, the mouths of the players.

For most fans, it was a rare treat, something they don’t get the chance to see in Morenci. There was joking about the calisthenics and the language, the big bellies and the fatigue. But there was also an appreciation for the skills and the effort, and for simply having the guts to do it.

“You’ve gotta really love football to do this,” one guy said.

That’s precisely why these overgrown boys are still putting on the pads. They really love football.

    - Sept. 26, 2001 

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