By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford and Ida will renew a backyard rivalry Thursday when the Bluestreaks travel to Ottawa Lake to take on the Bobcats. It’s the first meeting between the two Monroe County schools since 1976.
“It’s about as good as it gets in Monroe County,” Whiteford coach Jason Mensing said. “Two local teams, two county teams and both are 1-0. I’m excited for it. The kids are excited for the opportunity.”
Whiteford hasn’t beaten Ida since Oct. 4, 1968. “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts, Lyndon B. Johnson was president and gasoline costs less than 40 cents a gallon.
The Bobcats and Ida were in the same conference from 1960 to 1974. They were both founding members of the River Raisin Conference, staying in that league from until 1972. In 1973, the RRC dissolved as teams went into various directions. Ida and Whiteford joined Blissfield and several northwest Ohio schools to form the Michigan-Ohio Border Conference.
The Bobcats left the league after the 1974 season to join the Tri-County Conference. Ida remained in the MOBC for a few years before that league dissolved. The Bluestreaks eventually ended up in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, but the rivalry between the two schools came to an end in 1976.
It’s a great time for the rivalry to pick up again as both schools have enjoyed football success in recent years.
The Bobcats have won more than 80 games in the last 10 years under head coach Jason Mensing, making the playoffs nine consecutive years and winning a state title in 2017. Ida has been to the playoffs eight of the past 10 years.
Whiteford enters this game ranked No. 4 in the first Division 1 football ranking of the season by the Detroit Free Press. The Bobcats are coming off a 52-21 win over defending LCAA champion Blissfield. Ida beat Airport, 43-26, in its season opener.
Cole Giesige had a great first game for the Bobcats, scoring on a kickoff return, run and pass reception. He compiled 237 all-purpose yards in the opener, including a school-record 95-yard kickoff return.
“Once we started rolling, we played really well,” Giesige said after the game. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work and it’s nice to see it pay off.”
Giesige said a victory over a team like Blissfield gives the team confidence heading into the Ida game, but they know they have work to do.
“With the big win it puts little confidence in us,” Giesige said. “We are very excited to come home and play against the Bluestreaks.”
The 52 points was the most Whiteford has scored in a season opener since 2002 when they beat Pittsford 56-6. That was the only other 50-point game for Whiteford to start the season.
Giesige’s 95-yard kickoff return was the longest kickoff return for a touchdown in Whiteford history, breaking the mark of 90 yards held by Robert Iott in 1959 and Fred Kutzke in 1992. The 95-yard TD is the fourth-longest TD in school history.
Here are the game notes for the Ida-Whiteford game: