Utica Eisenhower quarterback Blake Rastigue tosses a pass Nov. 1 in a Division 1 Predistrict playoff game against Rochester Adams at home. Rastigue threw three touchdown passes in the win.

Utica Eisenhower quarterback Blake Rastigue tosses a pass Nov. 1 in a Division 1 Predistrict playoff game against Rochester Adams at home. Rastigue threw three touchdown passes in the win.

Photo by Mariusz Nowak


Ike defense pitches shutout in playoff win over Adams

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published November 1, 2019

 Ethan Barker hauls in one of two touchdown passes he had in the game. Eisenhower advances take on Lake Orion High in a Division 1 district final.

Ethan Barker hauls in one of two touchdown passes he had in the game. Eisenhower advances take on Lake Orion High in a Division 1 district final.

Photo by Mariusz Nowak

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — When all three phases are clicking for a team, the game often turns out in its favor. That was the case for Utica Eisenhower Nov. 1 in a Division 1 predistrict game against Rochester Adams at home. The Eagles beat the Highlanders 24-0 and will advance to play Lake Orion High in a district final.

"I love the way we play," Eisenhower coach Chris Smith said. "I love the way our defense has played all year. You love having a win in the playoffs, you live on another week to practice and be able to play together."

The Eagles defense was the star of the show, collecting two turnovers on interceptions. This was the second time Ike has shutout an opponent this season. 

Eisenhower's defense got things going right off the bat as the Eagles forced Adams to turn the ball over on downs on the Highlanders opening possession. Turning the ball over to its offense, Eisenhower struck first, capping a nine-play drive with a 25-yard field goal by Luke Drzewiecki to put Ike up 3-0.

The Highlanders were able to move the ball on their ensuing possession but the drive came to a hault when Aleks Gjelaj picked off an Adams pass and returned it 65 yards to the Adams 31-yard line.

A series of punts, failed fourth down conversions and missed field goals followed as neither team managed to score points until halftime drew near. 

With 1:05 left in the first half, Eisenhower's Blake Rastigue threw his first of three touchdown passes on the night. This one found Ethan Barker on a 8-yard pass to push the lead to 10-0. Adams had a chance to get on the board just before the break. Starting from midfield, the Highlanders got in field goal range but a 41 yarder was missed.

Rastigue and Barker connected again midway through the third quarter. This time it was a 36-yard connection to put Ike up 17-0. Much like the defense, the Eisenhower offense was also clicking. Rastigue spread the ball around to six different receivers in the game.

"After the first few drives we really started clicking," Rastigue said. "In that second half it was just our offensive line was getting off the line and giving me time to throw the ball. My receivers were also making great plays, and I give all the credit to them."

Trailing by 17, Adams quarterback Carter Farris led the Highlanders on another long drive that ended in a turnover. The 10-play drive that started on Adams' 20-yard line ended in an interception by Nick Passarelli on a pass intended for Parker Picot. Ike turned the interception into points as Rastigue found Mario Getaw on a 4-yard pass, capping off a drive that started from the Eisenhower 16-yard line. 

Smith said that there wasn't one or two players that stood out to him, but that the win was more of a total-team effort. It's the team first mentality that lead Ike to a seven win regular season, and it was the team first mentality that propelled the Eagles into a district final.

For Adams, turnovers and tough field position put the Highlanders in a hole that was too deep to crawl out of. Other than the drive that started a midfield, every Adams drive started in its own territory and almost half its offensive possessions started from the 20-yard line in.

"This particular team was so much fun to coach," Highlanders coach Tony Patritto said. "We had an unprecedented amount of kids show up for workouts in the summer because they knew we weren't the most talend team in the OAA Red. We knew for us to be competitive we had to outwork everyone we played and I think we did that. They never stopped believing in themselves and they never quit."

The Highlanders end the season 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division. Eisenhower improves to 8-2 overall.