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Macomb Township

Return to the gridiron: Macomb Township Chronicle

August 26, 2014

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The Macomb Dakota football team is seeking its 14th straight playoff appearance. Pictured are Cougars Blake Brady, left, and Antonio Balabani working on a tackling drill during an Aug. 15 practice.
The Macomb L’Anse Creuse North football team, moving to the MAC Red from the MAC Blue, is looking for its third straight postseason appearance. Pictured is Crusaders senior running back Trevor Conklin, right, taking a handoff from assistant coach Brian Anderson during an Aug. 15 practice.

The prep football season kicks off Aug. 28 on fields across the state.

Here’s a look at your local squads, along with some thoughts from the coaches regarding what they hope will make this a season to remember.

The opening game for each squad is also listed. For a look at every local team and their complete schedule, visit and click on the Sports tab.

Macomb Dakota Cougars
Last season’s record: 11-1, 5-0
League: MAC Red
Returning starters: 10
First game: at Clarkston High, 7 p.m. Aug. 28

Offensive keys:
Dakota coach Mike Giannone, in his 17th year with the Cougars, called his offensive line, with three returning starters, a strength. The line will have to remain strong in protecting senior quarterback Maurice Moon, a first-year starter at the position. Giannone, who guided Dakota to back-to-back state titles in 2006-07, is expecting strong play from senior tight end Daniel Crawford, senior lineman Antonio Balabani and junior running back Benji Marshall.

Defensive keys:
With three returning starters on the line, Giannone called his defensive front the strength of a unit that only allowed 8.5 points per game last season. Balabani (defensive end) heads up the group. Other standouts include junior linebacker Brendyn Pittman and senior defensive back John Hall.

Coach’s outlook:
“I’m very optimistic about the season. If we can stay healthy, we’ll have a good year.”

Macomb L’Anse Creuse North
Last season’s record: 8-2, 4-1 MAC Blue
League: MAC Red
Returning starters: Six
First game: at Troy Athens, 7 p.m. Aug. 28

Offensive keys:
LCN coach Anthony Kiner said he wants to continue to run the up-tempo style he brought to LCN three years ago. He said limiting turnovers will be key, as well, and that the program’s offensive line is rounding into form. Kiner, 16-5 since coming to LCN, is expecting strong play from a trio of senior running backs,  Trevor Conklin, Troy Tanzy and Jai’Sean Barnes, and senior quarterback Mitch Peer. The Crusaders put up 41.7 points per game in 2013 — second-best in the 36-team MAC.

Defensive keys:
Kiner wants his defense to create turnovers and is hopeful the unit, which let up 28.4 points per game last season, can stay healthy. Th defense will be keyed by Conklin (safety), Tanzy (linebacker) and Barnes (cornerback).

Coach’s outlook:
“We’re really excited. We’re an up-and-coming program. Our numbers in terms of players have gotten (huge). We’re ready to get going.”

Macomb Lutheran North Mustangs
Last season’s record: 3-6
League: Catholic League AA
Returning starters: Five
First game: at Yale, 7 p.m. Aug. 28

Offensive keys:
Third-year head coach Ryan Wesley said his team must limit turnovers and use the entire field if it is to return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2010. Wesley is looking at senior running back Andy Bielecki and senior tight end Justin Croswell to make solid contributions. The Mustangs put up 23.8 points per game last season.

Defensive keys:
Wesley said his team, which allowed 24.5 points per game in 2013, must be stout against the run and play solid for all four quarters. Wesley is looking for solid play from senior defensive tackle Eric Moschel, Bielecki (defensive back) and Croswell (defensive end).

Coach’s outlook:
“We’re young and inexperienced, but this is an energetic group of kids who are willing to learn.”

— Jason Carmel Davis

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