State football playoffs begin

The regular season is over and Utica Eisenhower finished perfect at 9-0. And now senior quarterback Jorel Petree hopes to lead his team to a 5-0 record in the playoffs, but it won't be easy.

Petree is completing his third varsity season, but wants it to be a long farewell. The five-week single elimination state playoffs begin this weekend with Petree's 9-0 Utica Eisenhower team looking at making a run in Division I against heavyweights like defending champion Detroit Catholic Central and East Kentwood.

Eisenhower plays Port Huron Saturday in a predistrict game with the winner taking on Macomb-Dakota or New Baltimore-Anchor Bay in next week's district finals.

A year ago, Eisenhower was expected to be a 14-0 state champion but finished only 7-2 during the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs. That's why a 9-0 regular season this year was a pleasant development for Petree and his teammates.

"We would have been disappointed if we didn't go 9-0," Petree said. "We're enjoying it. We have so many good athletes on our team. Everyone plays for each other. We're all unselfish."

The toughest team during the regular season for Eisenhower was Chippewa Valley, which lost to the Eagles 14-7.

"I feel Chippewa Valley is one of the toughest teams in the state," Petree said.

If his team is able to face either East Kentwood or Catholic Central later in the playoffs, "I think our chances are pretty good," Petree said.

The Eagles are looking for their quarterback to have a profitable playoff season.

"This year, I got to throw the ball more," he said. "I'm the only person in our offensive backfield who hasn't scored."

But it's been a productive season for Petree as a senior compared to his junior year. "I'm so much more relaxed this year," he said

His team's defensive talent gives Petree and Eisenhower special hope in its drive for a state title.

"If we're leading the game and we get good field position, we're in good shape with our defense," Petree said. "If we put up 14 points a game, we win. Our defense is very good. I'm not worried about a team scoring on us."

Even if his team plays East Kentwood or Catholic Central during the playoffs, Petree has faith that his defense will come through.

"Those two are basically running teams," Petree said. "We defend the run very well."

Petree figures on having a college future either in the Mid-American Conference or possibly with a Division II school. But he's hoping a Division I state title is in his high school team's immediate future.

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