Chequamegon quarterback back on the field and cancer freeSubmitted: 08/16/2018

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PARK FALLS - A medical mystery turned into a scary diagnosis for a Chequmaegon football player earlier this year.

Thomas Harris ended last season with a concussion, so he thought.

Thomas spent his off-season beating cancer instead of in the weight room. He knew he had a hard battle ahead.

But not only did he conquer the disease, he's also getting to spend his senior year playing his favorite sport.

"Hopefully what I've been through can be motivation for some of teammates," Harris said.

From long hospital stays and chemotherapy, to first downs and putting on that green Screaming Eagles uniform again. Chequamegon quarterback Thomas Harris is back on the gridiron.

"Things are looking different than they have in the past, definitely," Harris said. "So that's exciting."

Thomas was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. But after leaps of faith and several months of treatment, he has been cleared to play full contact football.

"It's fantastic to have him back not only because that's what he wanted and that's what he was looking forward to but because we really needed a quarterback," said Chequamegon Head Football Coach Dan Pearsall.

Thomas trained almost every single day after returning from treatments in Milwaukee.

"Obviously there were some days I couldn't but I did everything I could to get back at this point," Harris said.

Looking forward to leading his team and playing football his senior year kept him fighting.

"Being through everything that I've been through, I had to put in a lot of hard work," Harris said.

And it's not going unnoticed.

"He's really fulfilling his wishes as well as the teams at this point," Pearsall said.

But Thomas hopes the effort shows on the field.

"I didn't go through everything I have went through and work as hard as I did to lose every game," Harris said.

At Thomas' last doctor's appointment, there were no traces of cancer.

Thomas tells us he hopes to set an example for other cancer patients and his teammates.

The Screaming Eagles start their season Friday against the Boyceville Bulldogs. 

Story By: Mazie Vincent

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On Friday, high school football teams across the state will play their first games.

One Northwoods school almost lost its program last season and is now putting in extra effort to prove themselves.

"It's kind of been a struggle the past few seasons fielding enough players," said Chequamegon head football coach Dan Pearsall.

After low roster numbers and safety issues, the Chequamegon school board nearly cut its football program last season.

However, the Screaming Eagles are getting another chance at 11-man football.

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RHINELANDER - Jonus Sabani singlehandedly carved up Great Northern Conference defenses last year.

But Rhinelander High School's star forward won't be back this season, after transferring to Shattuck St. Mary's in Minnesota.

"His lifelong passion is soccer, and that will be the best step for him to reach his goals," Rhinelander head coach Dan Millot said.

Sabani's transfer means the Hodags will re-shape their offense, putting more forwards on the front line instead of having just one striker up top.

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MINOCQUA - One local football team takes extra steps to keep its players safe and hydrated.

That caution is especially important with temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

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ANTIGO - One of Antigo volleyball's most valuable assets isn't a player--it's a machine that makes the players better.

"It's obviously very intimidating at first just because it's something we've never seen before," Antigo's Alayna Weix said.

Antigo purchased the Total Attack 3 two years ago, hoping to find a way to better prepare defensive players for conference matches.

"It kind of gives the girls the opportunity to practice all possible serves," head coach Jesse Knetter said.

So far, the Red Robins have found the Total Attack valuable enough to use at almost every practice. One of the things Antigo loves about it is its versatility. The Total Attack has speed settings that fire balls faster for a power serve or slower for a float serve.

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TOMAHAWK - Six years ago, Tori Stevens of Tomahawk died at just 11 years old. Since then, an annual benefit night at Tori's favorite place helps fight the disease that took her life.

"You can't ever really forget anything about her," said Tori's best friend Makenzie Werner. "She was super nice, super friendly and always there."

People at Tomahawk Speedway certainly felt Tori's presence at the Night of 100 Bikes.

"She used to sit here and cheer me on every night," said racer Charles Hedges Jr.

Everyone has fond memories of Tori, the young girl who spent so many summer days at the racetrack before she died in 2012 of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic disease.

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WAUSAU - Most area football teams scrimmaged Friday. Phillips is an exception.

The Loggers took on Newman Catholic and Gillett Saturdayin the last round of run-throughs before the season starts Friday.

Phillips is entering its second year playing eight-man football.

The Loggers have relied on a single-wing, misdirection offense to confuse opponents. Head coach Steve Precour sees scrimmages as a valuable asset to getting that offense established.

"Instead of varsity beating up on young guys, we get to go see another varsity club, guys that are equal in playing talent and strength and speed," Precour said. "We see how we match up and what we can change schematically."

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ANTIGO - When people mention taters, potatoes come to mind.

But this weekend, tater tots turned into a Tater Trot.

"The Tater Trot is a long tradition here," said Tater Trot Race Director Melissa Wilhelm.

More than 350 runners took to the streets of Antigo Sunday to race for a sack of potatoes.

And most importantly, to raise money for Antigo High Schools cross country and track teams.

"It helps create a sustainable program too, something that we can draw from and count on to cover expenses and build a program," said Antigo coach Casey Hildebrandt.

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WITTENBERG - High school teams took to the field for scrimmage day across the Northwoods. It's the last tune-up before games start next Friday.

One local team scrimmaged a bit further away than most.

The Tomahawk Hatchets were at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, along with fellow conference members Colby, Athens and Wittenberg-Birnamwood.

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ANTIGO - Empty stables, open parking spaces, and a pristine track.

It's the calm before the storm for Shaughn Novy, the woman in charge of the Northwoods Triple Crown.

"We packed the grandstands last year, and we hope to do it again this year and put on a great show," Novy said.

This is Novy's second year of organizing the triple crown, a process that takes longer than most people realize.

"It really takes year-round planning to do an event like this," Novy said.

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MERRILL - Kindergarten-age soccer players took the field in Merrill to run around and learn the game.

They had more fans in the crowd than usual though, as Merrill's high school players showed up to lend their support.

The kids may not know all the rules, and they don't understand the concepts of spacing or attention span yet either.

"Some of them get distracted by puppies or butterflies or whatever's going past them," said Youth Coach Ben Wallace.

But what the kids at Merrill Soccer Association's summer games lack in experience, they make up for in joy.

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