BY MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — They're done talking about practice.
Since March, the Traverse City Wolves have lined up against only each other in practice, preparing for their second season of organized football.
Tonight, a new opponent will be across the field as the Wolves host the Detroit Seminoles in a preseason game at Elk Rapids High School.
"We can only beat up on ourselves for so long," TC's first-year coach Brad Haney said. "We truly feel like we're ready."
Traverse City is coming off an impressive inaugural season. The Wolves finished 8-4, including a 20-6 win over London, Ont., in the first round of the playoffs.
The team produced six NAFL Northern Conference All-Stars last year and all six are back this season. That list includes linebackers Tyler Alpers and Ryan Brown, defensive lineman Darnell Wilson, defensive back Tim Ohlert, fullback D.J. Szymoniak and kicker Pablo Bocardo.
Today's game will have special meaning for Bocardo, who is an Elk Rapids native.
"We've got a couple of guys from there that are excited to play in front of their hometown," Haney said. "We're excited to get out there. And hopefully when we move to Thirlby Field, they'll come down here and support us as well."
With a new coaching staff and plenty of fresh faces, today's game will be a measuring stick for the organization.
"We're looking to see what our identity is," Haney said. "We're going to test them on a lot of things. We've thrown a lot at them and we'll see where we're at."
Having an elite team to compete against won't hurt either. The Seminoles, who compete in the Mid-Continental Football League and have four national championships since forming in 1994.
"That's the beauty of this," Haney said. "We're bringing up an established team. That's going to test us so we can work out the kinks. They're going to smack us in the mouth, but it will show us what our season will be made of."
Today's game kicks off at 7 p.m. with gates opening at 5 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children.