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      NMU Wildcats eager for upcoming season

      MARQUETTE -- Northern Michigan University football is back. The team held its first official practice Saturday inside the Superior Dome. Despite ending last season with a 4-7 record, the Wildcats were eager to get onto the field.

      This year, they return senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak who is another year wiser. Among his skill players returning are senior wide receiver Christian Jesse and junior running back Wyatt Jurasin. The strength of the offense last season was the team's big offensive line. Everyone is returning except for Jace Daniels who is now playing for Tampa Bay. Defensively, the linebackers seem to be another strong position group for the Wildcats.

      Now in his second year at NMU, head coach Chris Ostrowsky emphasized the importance of senior leadership. He also says he wants to see his players become a team since many of these Wildcats only have a year or so of experience. After the team's first practice, he was encouraged by what he saw.

      "I thought it was a great day for us," said Ostrowsky. "We really tried to put them in as many situations as we could where we're creating a deal where they really got to think on their feet and react. I thought the tempo was great, the energy was outstanding and the effort was awesome to see. They're really giving us everything they got."

      "A lot of guys probably aren't used to being in this dome and so [practice today] was good for us," said Jesse. "We got a lot of conditioning in."

      "Our main focus is Findlay," said junior outside linebacker Nick Kraused. "We're not even thinking about the rest of the season right now. I just can't wait until September 14."

      Last season, Findlay defeated NMU 45-10 in the Wildcats' season opener. But this year, the sentiment from the players and the attitude from practice is that they'll be well prepared for round two against the Oilers.