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2019 Football Preview: Utica High

2018 Record: 1-8

By: C & G Sports Staff | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 22, 2019

Last season’s record: 1-8
League: Macomb Area Conference White Division
Returning starters: 12
First game: 7 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Bloomfield Hills High

Offensive keys:
Chieftains coach Matt Marulli said the team has a lot of young skill players this season, so the offensive line will be heavily relied on. James Valenzuela, Ian Grzadzinski, Chad Goodwine and Maguire Palicke will all play key roles up front.

Quarterback Zack Keen returns to the Chieftains this season, and Marulli hopes he can play an important role in driving the offensive unit.

“He’s a good leader for our team,” Marulli said. “He brings a lot of experience at that position. We expect him to be the leader of our offense this year and make some big strides as a senior for us.”

Defensive keys:
Success for the defense will start up front on the defensive line.

“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back on our D-line,” the coach said. “We’re looking for them to be our strength. We’re confident in them, and hopefully everybody else follows their lead.”

Palicke, Valenzuela, Grzadzinski and Goodwine double as defensive linemen and again will be called upon to provide a spark for the defense. Other key players are cornerback Shane Lutz and linebacker Gabe Olschefsky.

Coach’s outlook:
The Chieftains are looking to build off their momentum from the offseason and improve on a 1-8 season one year ago. The Chieftains will call on their senior leadership and experience to pave the way.    

“We’ve had a good offseason, and we’re hoping that continues into August,” the coach said. “We’re looking to compete each week and just get better each week.”

vs. Bloomfield Hills High (2-7) — 7 p.m. Aug. 29
These two teams opened the season last year. The Black Hawks won 39-14.

at Grosse Pointe North (1-8) — 7 p.m. Sept. 6
The Norsemen’s only win of the 2018 season came in a 21-17 victory over the Chieftains. Utica trails in the series 6-9.

vs. Utica Ford II (3-6) — 7 p.m. Sept. 13
This will be the 10th time in a row that the Falcons and Chieftains will meet during the regular season. In last year’s matchup, Utica’s offense struggled in a 34-6 loss.

at Grosse Pointe South (8-2) — 7 p.m. Sept. 20
It’s been tough sledding for Utica when it comes to playing South. The Chieftains last beat the Blue Devils in 2006.

vs. St. Clair Shores Lakeview (7-4) — 7 p.m. Sept. 27
Despite a 25-11 loss to the Huskies last season, Utica leads the all-time series 12-5-1.

vs. Sterling Heights Stevenson (4-5) — 7 p.m. Oct. 4
In last year’s matchup, the Titans offense proved to be too much for the Chieftains in a 55-15 win. Stevenson leads the all-time series 27-9.

at Warren Mott (7-3) — 7 p.m. Oct. 11
The Marauders have made the postseason eight years in a row. When these two teams met last season, Mott came away with the 43-6 victory.

vs Macomb L’Anse Creuse North (4-5) — 7 p.m. Oct. 18
The Chieftains’ lone win last season came against the Crusaders 34-20. Utica leads the all-time series 8-6.

at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (14-0) — 7 p.m. Oct. 25  
The Big Reds’ perfect 2018 season culminated in a Division 1 state championship. Along the way, Chippewa beat Utica 49-0.