When the final whistle blows at the end of the game between the Seneca Fighting Irish football alums and the Pontiac Indians alums in the “Battle of the I’s” on Saturday in Seneca, one of the two teams will be declared the winner. However, the real winners that day will be the food pantries in the communities of both Seneca and Pontiac.
There will be no admission charged for the game to be played at Seneca High School at 5:30 p.m.; however, volunteers will be on hand selling 50-50 tickets as fans enter the gates, with all of the proceeds to be divided between the two communities to share with their local food pantries.
“With it being close to the holidays, we thought it would be great to give something back to the communities in which we live,” Max Sulzberger, head of the Seneca contingent explained. “This is the kind of event that really can bring communities together.”
Jeff Schade, organizer of the Pontiac group, agreed wholeheartedly.
“This is a great chance to say thanks to the community in which we live,” he said. “When we were all back in high school playing sports, we had people basically come out of the woodwork to come watch us play, regardless of the sport. For some towns, it’s just a way of life.”
“Being from a small town [such as Seneca] where every fall Friday night revolved around high school football, you develop a familiarity and bond with players [and fans],” Sulzberger said. “This event is designed to create an atmosphere as close as to how we all remember those Friday nights when we were in high school. Especially this year, with the Irish being in the playoffs again.”
Schade went one step further.
“I never got to play high school football. We have several players on our team who didn’t play,” he said. “This game … this format … has given guys like us a chance to taste it a little bit. When Pontiac was rolling, the stands were packed, and the place was rocking. The guys who have played have always talked to us about what’s like. Those fans are who created that atmosphere, that excitement. I know … because I was one of them.”
Cost for the 50-50 tickets at the “Battle of the I’s” will be $2 a ticket and $10 for an arm’s length. The winner will be announced at halftime; the big winners will be the food pantries in Seneca and Pontiac.
Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods and nonperishable items. In 2012, the communities were able to split more than $450 for their respective pantries.
In 2012, Pontiac quarterback Tommy Green hit Travis Miller (who, ironically, never played high school football, but was a standout basketball player for the Indians) with a pair of second half touchdown passes to offset the late touchdown throw from Seneca quarterback Mike Davis to Chad Caputo, leading the Indians to a hard-fought, very competitive 12-6 victory. Players on both sides came away from the game loving the experience and wanting more.