Photo by Natalie Garwood
Photo by Natalie Garwood

Utica Chieftains vs. Eisenhower Eagles

A rivalry as old as time.

This Friday, the #146 Utica Chieftains take on the #14 Eisenhower Eagles.

There are not many chances these cross town rivals get to challenge each other, but when they do it’s worth the watch.

These two schools have been rivals for longer then a lot of these players have been alive. Previous students that are now coaches, teachers, or principals; the history is carried through all who call either of these schools their home. Each team’s “history” will show on Swinehart Field Friday night.

Months and months of preparation, months of practices lead up to this final moment between these two teams.

For the Chieftains, this is a very important game, one that could bring them back to the playoffs like they once did two years prior. Two weeks could turn into three, and that’s what the team wants and needs.

Photo by Natalie Garwood.

“I want to win, I’ll run over people if I have to,” senior Jefferey Cleaver said, “but we need to win and make the playoffs.”

Playoffs is the main goal for Cleaver.

“If we win this game, no matter what we’re in the playoffs,” senior Isaiah Mcgarry said. “I just want to win because it feels good.”

Playoffs are a common goal among the players.

In this battle, it’s not just the playoffs or just the win that compels players. There is a lot more to the game of football than you think.

“I’ve played with a lot of [Eisenhower football players] in the past on the Shelby Lions in middle school,” junior Dom Gandy said, “so I know how these kids are especially talking trash, and that just makes me want to win even more.”

Gandy knows a lot of the Ike players, but is not letting that change his goals.

“Even though I’m cool with a lot of the players,” senior Numehne Gwilly said, “I’m still gonna go out and play like I normally would.”

Gwilly is not letting his friendships get in the way of the game.

“I hate Ike,” Mcgarry said. “I’m excited for this chance to play our rival, to see who owns the field.”

Mcgarry is ready to take ownership of Swinehart.

Photo by Natalie Garwood.

“Ike this, Ike that, all people talk about is Ike,” senior Landon Drew said. “I’m excited to show them what the Utica Chieftains are about.”

Drew is tired of the talk; watch the game, then talk about it.

“I’m excited. I’m excited to just go out there and compete,” senior Nick Gojcaj said. “I just can’t wait for this competition against the MAC red champs.”

Gojcaj is ready to compete against Ike, and show everyone what his Utica team is made of.

Photo by Natalie Garwood

“We just gotta trust each other,” junior Gabriel Griffith said, “work together, stay focused on our keys and really bring it against Ike this year.”


Trust, focus, and hard work is what seems to be most important to Griffith if the team wants to win.

Ike is a highly-ranked team, and they became co-champs of the MAC red division quite recently. On paper, Ike should come out victorious; but rankings don’t tell the whole story of a team.

“Rankings don’t matter,” Griffith said. “Our team is full of talented and hardworking players, and we just need to work together to beat Ike.”

Rankings are just numbers to the Chieftains, who know they aren’t what makes the team who they are.

“We know that this is the best team we’re going to play,” sophomore Mahti Gwilly said. “but we made sure to come out and try our hardest every play.”

Photo by Natalie Garwood

It was all focus and hard work this week.

“It’s a football game, nothing to it. We just need to C.A.R.E. Call. Align. Read. Execute,” senior Dylan Kelley said. “It’s just a game, nothing else to it.”

Kelley is staying calm for just another Friday night game.

A big day with big game, to longtime rivals clashing under the lights this Friday. It will be a sight to see, so come out and enjoy this “friendly” rivalry.

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    Alband, AnyaOct 17, 2023 at 8:50 am

    I like this. Thanks for sharing.