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October 16, 2012

Chieftains football finds footing, Eisenhower qualifies for playoffs

By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer

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Chieftains football finds footing, Eisenhower qualifies for playoffs
Utica High’s Jacob Roberts (11), pictured during a game earlier this season, ran for three touchdowns as the Chieftains won at Roseville High Oct. 13 for a second straight win.

ROSEVILLE — After starting the season 0-6, Utica High’s football team has won two straight games, picking up league wins over Anchor Bay Oct. 5 and Roseville High Oct. 12.

Utica senior Jacob Roberts recorded all three of the Chieftains’ touchdowns in the recent win at Roseville, a 21-10 decision that meant Utica ends up tied for third place in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

“Early in the year, we knew we were going to have some problems early because we had a very front-loaded schedule. There were some tough teams,” Utica coach Tony Smith said after the Roseville win.

To go along with the challenging early schedule, which included playoff-bound teams in Port Huron High, Warren Mott and Utica Stevenson, as well as possible playoff teams Rochester High, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse and Warren Cousino, the Chieftains have had to juggle their lineup and assignments at times throughout the year.

Smith said at one point, Utica was starting nine underclassmen on offense — eight juniors and one sophomore. During another game, he said he looked up and realized four out of his five starting offensive linemen were out of the game.

“To go from there to where we are now, and the seniors have stayed focused. They’ve done a great job,” the coach said. “It’s not been easy for everyone, but the one thing I would say, every week, these kids come in with a positive attitude. They want to play football; they love doing it. They’re a great group of kids.”

Following the team’s sixth straight loss, Smith said he had a heart-to-heart with his players.

“I told them, ‘You know guys, I love coming out here and coaching you. You guys seem like you love coming out here and playing. Let’s start putting together wins.’

“I think the seniors are starting to put some blocks in place,” Smith said. “They’ve really carried us the last two weeks, with Jake Roberts and some of the linemen.”

Utica wraps up the season with a chance to close out the year on a high note, hosting a game against winless Utica Ford II at 7 p.m. Oct. 19.

“We got the win today, and next week, hopefully, we can play well and win,” Smith said. “I’m just excited for our kids. I’m proud of what they’ve done the last two weeks.”

Eagles lock up playoff berth

Utica Eisenhower has also played well as of late, locking up another postseason appearance with its sixth win of the season Oct. 12 against Utica Stevenson.

The Eagles, who topped the Titans 23-16, have won three in a row after recently beating Romeo High and Roseville.

Ike wraps up the season against Warren Cousino at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Cousino.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jon Malavolti at jmalavolti@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040. Twitter Follow Jon on Twitter.