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October 10, 2012

Dakota football not satisfied yet, trip to Chippewa up next

By Jon Malavolti
C & G Sports Writer

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Dakota football not satisfied yet,  trip to Chippewa up next
Dakota’s Nicholas Cattaneo celebrates a touchdown while teammate Corey Chase (8) looks on during a game earlier this season. The Cougars have had plenty to celebrate this season, recently locking up a playoff berth with their sixth win, and a share of the MAC Red Division title. Dakota can clinch the division crown outright with a win over rival Chippewa Valley this weekend.

Having wrapped up one goal last week, Macomb Dakota’s football team heads into this weekend looking to check off another.

The Cougars, who beat Utica Ford II 47-0 Oct. 5 to win their sixth game of the year and ensure themselves a playoff spot, will clash with rival Chippewa Valley at 7 p.m. Oct. 12. A win locks up the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title outright for Dakota (6-1 overall, 4-0 MAC Red). A loss opens the door for Utica Stevenson (6-1, 3-1 MAC Red) to tie Dakota atop the standings. Stevenson plays Utica Eisenhower (5-2, 2-2 MAC Red) at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Swinehart Field in Shelby Township.

“This is not a hard game to get the kids motivated for,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “We have the motivation of winning the MAC Red outright and going undefeated in the league. That is a big accomplishment and is a huge motivator.”

The last time Dakota won the MAC Red outright was in 2007. The Cougars shared the title with Stevenson in 2008.

Chippewa Valley (5-2, 2-2 MAC Red) fell out of the division-title race with a 24-7 loss to Stevenson Oct. 5. But the Big Reds are ready to play the spoiler against their rivals, as they look to lock up a playoff berth of their own and end a 10-game losing streak to Dakota, including a 24-14 decision last year.

“They’re our archrival, so if we’re not excited to play them, we’re in trouble,” Chippewa coach Scott Merchant said.

The Cougars hope to remain focused on the road against the motivated Big Reds as they look to build on their success.

“I feel it was very important to wrap that berth up when we had the chance,” Giannone said of Dakota’s win over Ford. “I know we are expected to make the playoffs every year and the expectations have been high at Dakota, but it is still a great accomplishment for our kids to continue to do it year in and year out. I am very proud of the way they have conducted themselves and have taken care of business.

“Without a doubt, we would love to keep this thing on a roll and get the home-field advantage (in the playoffs).”

Dakota wraps up the regular season at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at home against Roseville High (1-6, 0-4 MAC White).

Chippewa, meanwhile, must travel to play Port Huron (5-2, 4-0 MAC White) at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 in the regular-season finale.

“We knew we had three tough games left,” Merchant said. “It’s not going to be any easier next week or the week after that. Port Huron is a good football team. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re going to have to play a lot better to win.”
 

Crusaders one step closer
Macomb L’Anse Creuse North also has a big football game on its hands this weekend when the Crusaders visit Fraser High at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. North (5-2 overall, 3-1 MAC Blue) is looking to land its first trip back to the postseason since 2007, the lone playoff appearance by the program.

The Crusaders finish the season hosting Marysville (5-2, 2-2 MAC Gold) at 7 p.m. Oct. 19.

North could also end up splitting its division title, if Grosse Pointe South (6-1, 4-0 MAC Blue) falls to L’Anse Creuse (4-3, 2-2 MAC Blue) and the Crusaders beat Fraser.

Mustangs ready to make move
After winning their first five games, the Macomb Lutheran North Mustangs have lost two in a row and must hit the road for their final two contests of the regular season, still seeking a playoff berth in the process.

Lutheran North plays at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Dearborn Divine Child and then at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Richmond High.

For more football coverage, including updates on playoff teams, and recaps and photos from games, check out our website at www.candgnews.com.

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