A dubious summer/The Red Line

As I write this, the fan is running in my apartment. It’s a familiar sound, but not one that’s been particularly common these days.

I’m not about to go complaining to God, but it does seem kind of weird that we only really had one significant heat wave, doesn’t it? I don’t mind the heat too much. Sleeping’s harder, but at least you don’t have to shovel.

As summers go, 2013 will go down in the undesirable category for all the non-farmers out there. Then again, it remains much better than the infamous summer of 1992.

For the segment of the population we deal with the most, summer’s almost over. Football practices will begin statewide on Monday, with practice sessions in most other fall sports kicking off Wednesday.

Just like it’s been an unconventional summer, it’s bound to be a slightly unusual fall.

For the first time since I can remember, Labor Day weekend is Week 1 of the prep football season, not Week 2, which means that many local teams (particularly L’Anse, Houghton, Lake Linden-Hubbell and Baraga) will be playing their opener on Thursday (Aug. 29). Calumet, which opens on the road at Northland Pines, Wis., is the most prominent local squad to open on Friday, while Hancock has a rare debut. The Bulldogs’ first game is Saturday against the Gogebic Miners co-operative. The game is in Wakefield, whose field has no lights, so Hancock will be one of just 12 games statewide on Saturday the 30th.

There are several other changes to the prep football rulebook this season, so before strapping on the pads, take note:

Defensive pass interference is no longer an automatic first down. Let me repeat this: Defensive pass interference is no longer an automatic first down. I said it twice, because I guarantee you by week four, someone will lob up a ball on 3rd and 25, the receiver will be tackled and four parents will be demanding blood, a first down or both. You have been warned.

If a player’s helmet comes off and he decided to pull a Jason Witten and continue playing, his team will be assessed a personal foul penalty. On the other side, if someone sees Jason Witten has lost his helmet and runs him over, the defense gets a personal foul.

On a catch, an airborne receiver whose forward progress is stopped is credited with a catch even if the defender carries the receiver out of bounds before he can get the requisite feet in. Frankly, I can’t see this situation taking place until the pairs figure skating competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Consider for a moment the mechanics: The defensive player would basically have to catch a moving receiver without letting the receiver’s feet touch the ground and carry them out of bounds, all without the receiver dropping the ball. But it must have happened somewhere, and thus, the rule has been changed.

There are no other substantial rules changes in the Copper Country’s other fall sports. Competition begins in earnest with several high school volleyball tournaments on Aug. 24 and the fall culminates with U.P. Finals in cross country Oct. 19 in Marquette, football Selection Sunday Oct. 27, and district volleyball the week of Nov. 4-9.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.