The Biggest What-If In Eastside Football History


The overwhelming emotion and energy in the air at Citizens Field on Friday night was something that couldn’t be ignored. A cross-town matchup between the current no. 19 team in the state and a scarily unrecognizable team that has gone undefeated so far this season. Two teams that have been anticipating this game for months. Both student sections overflowing with upwards of 200 people each. One tragic, overarching event that was on the mind of every single player and fan present. And an ending that left them all wanting more.


As the Buchholz Bobcats and the Eastside Rams took the field on Friday, there was the usual buzz of anticipation that comes with the yearly city matchup. But mixed in was a more unfamiliar feeling: loss. On Sunday, September 4th, it was announced that Eastside senior and starting left tackle Dae Dae White passed away in his sleep. The news was devastating to all; as a four year varsity player, team comedian, and natural leader, Dae Dae was one of the most loved players on the team. One player described him as “one of the happiest people I’ve ever met”.  


There was no doubt that this loss affected the entire team. But the players knew it was up to them to adapt and continue to prepare for Friday’s game, which now carried even more weight. 


As our players silently walked out of the locker room, leading with Dae Dae’s jersey in hand, the aura of sheer focus and determination emanating from them could be felt by each and every spectator in the stadium. After a moment of silence and an intentional delay of game on the first play to pay respects to Dae Dae, the action began. 


On a rainy, muddy night of less-than-desirable playing conditions, Eastside got off to a slow start. The run game was largely stifled by Buchholz’s star-studded defensive line, headlined by captain and UF-commit Gavin Hill; the Rams rushed for negative yardage on nearly every carry of the game. Aerially, Eastside fared a little better, with one 15-yard completion and two other passes that, if not dropped, would have added around 40 more yards to the count. Undoubtedly, though, Eastside’s defense was the brightest point in the quarter of gameplay. By constantly applying pressure to UF-commit and BHS quarterback Creed Whittemore, the Ram defense was able to force multiple incompletions and sacks for losses. Senior middle linebacker Mario “Rio” Mitchell has made an immediate impact this season after coming in to replace an injured Jayden Manns, with his aggression on Friday making life difficult for the Bobcat’s offense. When watching the game, it was not obvious that one team was unranked and the other was 19th in the state. With just 44 seconds left in the first quarter, Eastside was only a score down and in position on Buchholz’s 40 when the first lightning delay hit. As the players left to the locker rooms to wait out the thirty minute delay, a torrential downpour hit Citizens Field and put an end to a game that both teams were craving to finish – Buchholz to try to re-assert themselves as the dominant team after an uncharacteristically weak first quarter, and Eastside to continue doing what they have been all season: surprising opponents with their newfound skill and hunger. Moreover, many Eastside players felt they had a score to settle in honor of their passed teammate. “We knew we had to go and play our hearts out tonight for Dae Dae, and I feel like we did,” said another player after the game, “It’s just unfortunate it ended the way it did”. 


As of right now, the game is not set to be rescheduled, leaving every fan and player wondering, without answer, what would’ve happened that night if the game continued.