In Play with Tom Markowski


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Clarkston, Lapeer partner-up to keep Battle of the Big House in play

By: Tom Markowski, July 14, 2016, 4:40 pm



Clarkston – A school that sports the winged helmets saved the day for the inaugural Battle of the Big House.

No, it’s not the University of Michigan. It’s Clarkston.

The fate of the three-day event, which will be held the first weekend of the 2016 football season, appeared to be in limbo due to financial difficulties until the athletic department, specifically, the football program at Clarkston, stepped in, took over the financial burden and guaranteed the event.

The cost to run this event, which features seven games in three days, is approximately $70,000.

The event has no major sponsor so to break even Clarkston must sell 7,000 tickets at $10 per ticket.

Clarkston, the Division 1 champion in 2013 and ’14, will participate in one of the marquee games as the Wolves will play Lapeer on Aug. 26, a Friday, at 7 p.m.

Each of the past two seasons Lapeer lost to the eventual Division 1 champion in a district final. In 2014 the Lightning lost to Clarkston, 23-20.

It must be noted that Lapeer has stepped to the plate, too. Its athletic department has backed Clarkston and has given Clarkston football coach Kurt Richardson and athletic director Dan Fife a vote of confidence. Should a loss be incurred, Linden will take care of half.

Richardson is confident his school won’t need the money. He said it’s quite possible the Clarkston faithful will buy 4,000 tickets. It’s a fact that Clarkston has some of the best fan support of any school in southeast Michigan and it’s quite possible they’ll buy tickets by the bushel basket.

“We feel it’s a great opportunity for our kids, our fans, to go to the Big House and play,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he hopes that the event will be a success and that it will return to Michigan Stadium for 2017 and beyond.

The circumstances which led to Clarkston picking up the ball is somewhat cloudy. A member of the Saline coaching staff is credited with organizing and generating an interest in the event with the hopes that Saline would partake, thus being the host school. But Saline is scheduled to play at Rockford in the first game of the season and Rockford coach Ralph Munger was not keen on the idea of giving up a home game.

Saline hosted Rockford last season and won, 37-24.

Gaining sponsors is key to help finance, and promote, an event like this. The Battle of the Big House offer quality matchups, another important part of organizing a big event. But even so it’s the bottom line, how many tickets are sold, which will determine its fate.

Here’s the lineup. On Aug. 25 Brighton will play Detroit East English Village Prep at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. Walled Lake Western will play Farmington.

The next day Kalamazoo Central will play St. Joseph at 4 p.m. followed by Clarkston and Lapeer.

On Aug. 27 Detroit Catholic Central will play Sterling Heights Stevenson at 1 p.m. followed by East Kentwood and Farmington Hills Harrison scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Last season these two teams played at Harrison and East Kentwood won 35-28.

In the finale Ann Arbor Pioneer will play Muskegon at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 each day and they are good for all games on that day.