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Macomb Township

November 14, 2012

Dakota football season ends in regional playoff defeat

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Macomb Dakota’s Jared Schultz carries the ball against Lake Orion in a regional game. Although the season ended sooner than they would have liked, the Cougars did lay claim to a Macomb Area Conference Red Division and a district championship.

Macomb Dakota football’s season has come to an end following a 51-35 loss to Lake Orion in a  Division 1 regional playoff game Nov. 9 at Lake Orion.

Although the Cougars were hoping to have the opportunity to earn a trip to Ford Field for a semifinal game, they aren’t exactly exiting the season without their fair share of accomplishments.

Following a season-opening loss to Dearborn Fordson, Dakota proceeded to win 10 straight games, picking up a Macomb Area Red Conference Division title, as well as a district championship, along the way.

The Cougars’ district title came via an opening-round 17-7 playoff victory against Chippewa Valley, which was followed by a 42-17 win over Macomb L’Anse Creuse North to capture the program’s third district championship in four years.

When he considers the season as a whole, Dakota coach Mike Giannone is pleased with what the Cougars were able to accomplish.

“I thought we had a good season,” he said. “We played well. We didn’t have any superstars, but I think the kids achieved their highest level. To be able to win the MAC Red and go undefeated, and then win a district, that was pretty good after our first loss.”

While Giannone thought the Cougars could be in for a good season, even he didn’t know just how good. According to the coach, Dakota accomplished nearly all of its goals, and he understands the kind of effort it took from his team to make it happen.

“Each kid competed, and we got better,” he said. “I thought one of the things that helped our team out a lot was the leadership we got from our seniors. They stayed close as a team; they bonded real well. I thought it was (an) important thing for us, because you got to like the guys you’re playing with to play better.

“It starts at quarterback. Quarterback was one of our focal points, and the kids liked playing for Richmon Render. They really enjoyed it. I thought he did a nice job.”

The effort put forth by two players in particular, juniors Tommy Yombor and Brent Shadowens, is something Giannone believes he can use as positive examples for players who will suit up for the Cougars in the future. Until this season, Giannone said they have never started for the team.

In fact, last year, Shadowens was a guard on Dakota’s junior varsity team. He played the tight end position this season, and Giannone plans to let players know what it took for Yombor and Shadowens to earn starting spots on the team.

“They worked so hard this year. They became starters,” he said. “Those are probably some of the guys I’ll probably use as references to the kids coming up, so that they can kind of try to emulate some of their efforts. Because they put in a great effort in the offseason and (it) paid dividends for them this year, as well as for our team.”

Although Dakota’s season only recently ended, for Giannone, it’s not too soon to think about what kind of team the Cougars may be taking to the field with next season.

“Our JV was 8-1,” he said. “Our freshmen team did a nice job. We brought up 10, 12 players in the postseason, and those kids are going to be players for us, as well. I think the future of the program looks really bright.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.