Utica, Henry Ford II football squads to honor hometown heroes, first responders

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 19, 2012

UTICA — It was a fitting announcement on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

At the Sept. 11 Utica City Council meeting, Utica Fire Chief Kevin Wilseck announced that his department and other local first responders would be the guests of honor at an upcoming high school football game.

The Hometown Heroes game is set for Oct. 19 between rivals Utica High and Henry Ford II at Swinehart Field, across the street from Utica High at 47255 Shelby Road.

“You’re going to be representing us, so you better not lose,” Wilseck joked to two Utica High students in attendance at the meeting.

Like many fundraiser games local football teams have played, Utica and Ford II will wear special jerseys sponsored by local businesses and individuals, and emblazoned with the name of a local first responder on the back.

“I coached at Utica High, so I told them my name better not end up on a Henry Ford jersey,” Shelby Township Detective Sgt. Jeff Daniels said of his past affiliations with the Chieftains.

Daniels, who had to step aside from his coaching duties as an assistant coach in 1996 because of scheduling conflicts between the team and his 12-hour shifts with Shelby Township police, said he isn’t the only member of his department with a background in football.

He said that background is specifically why he envisions members of the department taking a “passive” role in the game.

“We had a flag football game between the Police and Fire departments, and it got a little physical,” Daniels said. “We kind of forgot about the flags, and we were all pretty sore for the next week. That’s probably why we haven’t done it since.”

Along with honoring those that risk their lives to protect the communities of Utica, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights and Macomb County, the game is also set to establish a scholarship fund for Utica Community Schools students looking to enter the fields of police, fire or emergency medical technician.

For more information on the game contact Utica High at (586) 797- 2200.