CARNEY — A school district in the southern U.P. is gearing up for its first season of 8–man football, and thanks to a donation from a nearby NFL team, they’re one step closer to kickoff.

“One day I approached Mr. Koffman and I just asked him a simple question: ‘Why doesn’t Carney have football?'” said Jim Belec, a parent of students at Carney-Nadeau Public School.

That question got the ball rolling on an 8-man football program that’s scheduled to begin at Carney-Nadeau Public School next fall.

“The two primary hurdles that we faced from day one were commitment from the students and the level of involvement — [the] number of kids we would have in the program — and secondly was finances,” said Dan Koffman, School Board Treasurer.

Multiple polls of students in the district proved to organizers that putting a team together was feasible. The district then got to work fundraising for the team’s estimated $20,000 startup cost. Luckily, Jim Belec’s wife, Cindy, had a connection over at Lambeau Field — namely a giving coordinator with the Green Bay Packers.

“She asked, ‘what are we looking for?’ And I said, ‘Sandy, we’re starting from scratch. We need everything,'” Cindy Belec said.

“All they required was a simple letter saying that we were looking to start a program,” said Principal/Superintendent Adam Cocco. “I typed that out, we sent it out, and two days later, seven boxes of pretty much brand new equipment arrived here at the school. I was like a kid at Christmas tearing through this stuff. They described it as being gently used, but I mean, it’s all brand new, top-of-the-line stuff.”

“Receiving a donation off the start of easily over $10,000 worth of equipment that is necessary to play was, without question, just unbelievable,” Koffman added.

“It’s a very big piece of the puzzle,” said Jim Belec. “I mean, it just works out that way that they’re green and gold, and we are, too.”

Things are swiftly moving into place for the team. The school will hold a meeting Friday to get future players officially on board.

“It had to get moving fairly quickly because the scheduling for next year takes place in the fall,” said Athletic Director Paul Polfus. “With cooperation of our administration, our school board, our community, and the people that were involved, everything was so positive all they way along that it just fell in place.”