Shelby Township, UticaOctober 31, 2012
Eisenhower football wins first-round game, plays at Lake Orion next
By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer
When Utica Eisenhower running back Shane King left the Eagles’ third game of the season back in early September with an injury, there were reasons for concern.
“Shane’s such a great player for us. A lot of the stuff we worked on all season was based around him as running back, receiver and kick returner. He’s a big part of what we’re doing,” Ike coach Chris Smith said. “When we lost him, it was tough.”
But being without King for the next four games turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Eagles.
“We found three more running backs. Now we have four guys that can carry the ball and do a good job,” Smith said. “It hurt us at first, but it made us better.”
That running-game balance was evident in the Eagles’ Oct. 26 first-round playoff victory over Warren Mott. Ike (8-2), playing at home, won 28-0 and absolutely controlled the contest, thanks to its running game, dominating the time of possession by holding onto the ball for about 34 of the game’s 48 minutes.
“It was a great effort by our kids,” Smith said.
The coach even credited the offensive balance with helping control Mott’s dangerous offense. The Marauders (8-2) had been averaging 38 points per game heading into the playoffs: one of the highest averages in the league.
Smith also said the defense stuck to its game plan, tackling well and limiting Mott’s talented skill-position players.
As for King — he’s back.
He led the Eagles’ rushing attack against Mott, grounding out a little more than 100 yards on 20 carries. He also played in Ike’s Macomb Area Conference Red Division finale against rival Utica Stevenson, rushing for more than 100 yards in that game — a 23-16 win that clinched the Eagles’ playoff berth.
“I thought our team was really starting to come together at the end of the year here,” Smith said. “We’re healthy. This was the first game we’ve had everybody back healthy. Things are clicking.”
Ike, state semifinalists last year, will need to be clicking on all cylinders to beat its next opponent — Lake Orion High. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at Lake Orion.
Visit www.mhsaa.com for more information. The Dragons improved to 9-1 with a 35-0 victory over Stevenson in their playoff opener.
The squads are familiar postseason foes, meeting twice in the past five playoffs. Lake Orion won both meetings by a touchdown, 17-10 in the 2010 regional playoff game and 7-0 in the 2008 opener. The Dragons went on to win the state title in 2010 and were runners up in 2008.
“I know what type of game it’s going to be,” Smith said. “They’re going to have a big crowd; they play hard on their field.”
The coach went on to note that Lake Orion, the 2012 boys track and field team state champion, has “a lot of speed.”
“They’ve got a lot of those kids on this football team,” Smith said. “The speed of the game is going to be different … even the offensive line is quick. That’s something we really haven’t seen. We’ll have to be able to adjust to the game once we’re in it. That’s hard to practice. We’ll have to be prepared for a speed game, a physical game. We’ve got to stay in the game. Hopefully, it’ll come down to the last minute.