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2019 Football Preview: Utica Eisenhower

2018 Record: 6-4

By: C & G Sports Staff | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 15, 2019

Last season’s record: 6-4
League: Macomb Area Conference Red Division
Returning starters: 12
First game: 4 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Birmingham Brother Rice at Wayne State University

Offensive keys:
The Ike offense took a hit this offseason by losing running back Caleb Oyster to graduation. Eagles coach Chris Smith said the team is really looking for a running back to step up, but that it’s going to take some time to find a player who’s going to be able to match what Oyster had done in the past.
The Eagles do, however, return senior quarterback Blake Rastique. Smith said having his starting QB back gives the team a jump on everything else.
“We’ve got that returning quarterback, and he’s got some good receivers,” Smith said. “Our game may be a little different with Blake and the receivers that we have, but it’s a matter of the offensive line jelling and finding that running back.”

Defensive keys:
Smith said the Eagles’ defensive line is poised to have a great season. The coach called his D-line quick and aggressive.
As for what it’s going to take for the defensive group to be successful, Smith said it’s getting a total team effort.
“Getting 11 guys to the ball,” the coach said. “That’s been our key for the 23 years that I’ve been here and even before that. So it’s that and stopping the big plays. With the athletes that we have in our league, stopping the big play is a big thing.”

Coach’s outlook:
The key to a good season for the Eagles starts with finding ways to get better every day. In order to do that, Smith said the coaching staff pushes teamwork, hard work and competing every day in practice.    
“Our league is too tough, so you’ve got to focus on every day to get better,” Smith said. “If you do that, you can have success, and if you don’t have success, it’s because you’re playing good teams around you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad team.”

vs. Birmingham Brother Rice (7-4) — 4 p.m. Aug. 29 at Wayne State University
The Eagles and Warriors will open the season at the Xenith Kickoff Classic. This marks the first matchup between the two schools.

vs. Warren Cousino (2-7) — 7 p.m. Sept. 6
The Eagles overwhelmed the Patriots 67-0 last season. Cousino has beaten Ike just twice in the 13 matchups between the schools, with the wins coming in 1984 and 1983.

at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (14-0) — 7 p.m. Sept. 13
The Big Reds captured the Division 1 state title last year. Along the way, Chippewa Valley ended Ike’s season in a pre-district game. The Eagles lead the all-time series 35-8.

vs. Romeo High (6-4) — 7 p.m. Sept. 20
The Bulldogs have made the postseason 17 times since the turn of the century and every year since 2004. In last season’s matchup, Romeo narrowly squeezed by Ike with a 21-14 victory.    

at Sterling Heights Stevenson (4-5) — 7 p.m. Sept. 27
The Titans failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year in 2018, but were able to improve on their win total from the prior season. Ike has beaten Stevenson every year since 2014, including 33-6 last season.

at Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (4-5) — 7 p.m. Oct. 4
The Eagles will look to spoil L’Anse Creuse’s homecoming when these two teams get together. The Eagles have dominated the all-time series, winning nine out of 10 times.

vs. New Baltimore Anchor Bay (3-6) — 7 p.m. Oct. 11
After making the playoffs in 2017, the Tars saw their win total drop last season to three. In last year’s game, the Eagles won 42-13.

at Macomb Dakota (8-3) — 7 p.m. Oct. 18
In last year’s meeting between Ike and Dakota, the Eagles came away victorious 21-13. Dakota leads the series 14-12.

vs. Utica Ford II (3-6) — 7 p.m. Oct. 25
With a 42-19 win over the Falcons to end last season, the Eagles reached the coveted six-win mark needed to make the playoffs. Ike has found success historically over Ford, leading the all-time series 30-10. Ford’s last victory came in 2006.