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Macomb Township

November 7, 2012

Dakota defeats L’Anse Creuse North; Lake Orion is next

By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Dakota running back Nick Cattaneo, pictured during the playoff opener, led the Cougars to another district title with a pair of touchdowns against L’Anse Creuse North Nov. 2.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Dakota’s football team is back in the regional round after beating Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 42-17 Nov. 2 at home.

The win marked the Cougars’ third district title in four seasons after falling in the first round of the playoffs last year.

Dakota (10-1) will play at Lake Orion High (10-1) at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 in regionals.

Winning districts wasn’t that easy, though. A week after edging rival Chippewa Valley 17-7 in the first round, Dakota found itself trailing North 10-7 at halftime.

The Cougars eventually pulled away with a barrage of touchdowns late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth, but came away with respect for their neighbors and possibly a new rivalry.

“They’re a pretty good football team,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said about North. “I think we just wore them down a little bit. We played great defense. The defense was the answer tonight.

“That’s a tough team. They can score points at will.”

Dakota senior running back Nick Cattaneo, who scored two rushing touchdowns for the second straight playoff game, called the win “incredible.”

“We came in here, we wanted to win. We expected to win,” Cattaneo said. “We wanted to beat these guys more than anything. For them to be right down the street from us, and for them to come here, for us to pull out that victory like that, after being down at halftime, it was perfect.”

The victory was the 10th in a row for Dakota; the Cougars last lost in the season opener 27-17 to Dearborn Fordson.

“Momentum is unbelievable,” Giannone said. “You’ve got to have momentum. This game’s a lot of momentum.”

The showdown between Lake Orion and Dakota will feature the teams with the second and third highest remaining playoff points in the Division 1 football bracket, respectively. Lake Orion has 100.444 points, while Dakota enters with 95.778. Only Clarkston (114.667) has more. Clarkston (11-0) handed Lake Orion its lone loss of the season, a 21-14 decision back on Oct. 12.

“They’re a good team,” Cattaneo said of Lake Orion. “Coach always tells us it’s a business trip. So we’re going to go there, play like we did today, come out with intensity and try to get ourselves a regional (title).”

Dakota’s last regional win came in 2007 — also the last year the Cougars won the state title.

They beat Lake Orion on Nov. 9 that year in a regional game 26-14. And in the 2007 districts, Dakota beat none other than Chippewa Valley and L’Anse Creuse North.

Visit www.candgnews.com for a recap of the Dakota-North district final game and for an update from the regional against Lake Orion.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jon Malavolti at jmalavolti@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040. Twitter Follow Jon on Twitter.