CLINTON TOWNSHIP — At press time, the Clinton Township Clintondale football team sat at 5-0, 3-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division.
With two MAC Bronze games remaining, the Dragons have a good shot to win their third league title in four years, and one more win puts Clintondale in the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs for the fourth time in six years.
The Dragons are also in the midst of a 15-game, regular-season win streak, which dates back to Oct. 21, 2011. But it’s the one loss the team has suffered in the last two years that’s on the minds of Clintondale players and coach Dave Schindler.
“Our coaches say, ‘Every game is for (Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day),’” said Dragons senior running back/safety Todd Moore, referencing Clintondale’s 35-0 loss to the Yellowjackets in the pre-district round of the 2012 MHSAA state playoffs.
“We’ve been talking about that loss since the preseason,” Dragons senior linebacker/tight end Trey Barksdale said. “That loss last year broke our hearts.”
Impressive as Clintondale’s current regular-season win streak is, it’s not even on the mind of the Dragons’ coach. Schindler said he teaches his players to take one game at a time. He said he concentrates on ensuring his team improves on a weekly basis.
“I don’t pay attention to (win streaks). Someone told me about that last week, and I didn’t even know about it,” Schindler said. “You go back to last year, and we lost in the playoff game, and we’re trying to get better so we can have a good showing in the playoffs this year.
“We don’t want to go one and done in the playoffs again.”
One win in its last four games, which are all against teams Clintondale beat last season, would make the Dragons a virtual lock for the 2013 MHSAA state playoffs.
According to the MHSAA, for football, postseason inclusion is determined by wins and a computer point value, calculated for each team based upon its record and strength of schedule, with the top 256 teams (including all teams with six victories if playing a nine-game schedule) qualifying. These 256 teams are then ordered by enrollment and divided into eight divisions of 32 teams each.
“It’d mean the world to all of us if we could beat (Country Day) and make a deep playoff run,” senior defensive back Luwayne Harris said.
Clintondale’s performance to this point can be attributed to strong leadership, according to Schindler. Those seniors, and everyone else on the Dragons’ roster, tallied an average of 40.8 points per game through five games.
Clintondale’s defense has been equally as strong, surrendering seven points or fewer in each game this season, for a total of 33 points allowed through five games. That number is down from 78 points at the same point in 2012 — when Clintondale finished the regular season undefeated.
Barksdale said the team’s regular-season success hasn’t gone to its head. He said he believes the Dragons do a good job at staying humble and focusing on the task at hand.
“Sometimes, we do look at our record,” Barksdale said. “We’re doing OK, but it’s still not enough. We play every game like it’s our last, and we know for sure we don’t want to lose (in the first round of the MSHAA state playoffs) again.”
Clintondale, which played East Detroit High after press time, will look to keep its winning streak alive when it travels to Mount Clemens (3-2, 3-0 MAC Bronze). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Mount Clemens.