Macomb Dakota senior running back Dustin Solomon carries the ball during an Oct. 26 playoff win over Romeo High. Solomon rushed for 148 yards on 30 carries in the win.

Macomb Dakota senior running back Dustin Solomon carries the ball during an Oct. 26 playoff win over Romeo High. Solomon rushed for 148 yards on 30 carries in the win.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Dakota football runs past Romeo, earns spot in district final

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published October 26, 2018

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Timely offensive plays, big stops on defense and a workhorse effort from senior running back Dustin Solomon pushed the Macomb Dakota football team past Romeo High 21-17 in an Oct. 26 Division 1 predistrict matchup.

The Cougars (8-2) advance to face Macomb Area Conference Red Division rival Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (10-0) in a district final either Nov. 2 or Nov. 3. The Big Reds knocked off Utica Eisenhower 34-7 Oct. 26 to advance.

“You don’t have to say much about that,” Dakota coach Greg Baur said. “They’ve got a good team. I think we’ve got a good team. Let’s go.”

Against Romeo, Solomon rushed for 148 yards on 30 carries. 

“I give all the credit to my offensive line,” said Solomon, who earlier this season suffered a knee injury. “They open up all the holes. They make it really easy for me to pick up yards.”

The Cougars defense late in the matchup got two big fourth-down stops when the Bulldogs (6-4) were driving with a chance to take the lead. The last stand resulted with a stop on fourth and 12 with 43 seconds left in the game.

“Our defense has improved. We’ve worked hard to improve on that side of the ball, and we were able to get stops when we needed to,” Baur said.

“Obviously I wish there were a different outcome,” Romeo coach Curt Rienas said. “Both teams showed what type of football is played in Macomb County tonight. It was a well-played game between two teams.”

Dakota led 14-3 at halftime thanks to two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Mark Tocco to senior wide receiver Brandon Michalak, including a 5-yard score on a fade to the back corner of the end zone to give the Cougars a 14-3 lead with 12 second left in the half. Tocco threw for 137 yards. Michalak notched 65 yards.

The Cougars held the lead despite two first-half turnovers, which Romeo was not able to capitalize on.

Romeo in the third quarter cut the lead to 14-9 on a 2-yard rush by senior running back Brock Horne with 7:17 left. The big play of the game came when Bulldogs senior running back Tyler Czapski took a handoff up the middle and ran 97 yards for a score to put his team up 17-14 with 2:07 left in the third.

“We knew what they were running there,” Baur said. “Our guys were just out of position. You have to give Romeo credit on that, though. That was a heck of a run.”

The Cougars went up for good at 21-17 on a 2-yard run from sophomore running back De'javion Stepney with 8:16 left in regulation. The score came on Stepney’s only carry of the game.

“De’javion Stepney is going to be an elite player for us in the years to come,” Baur said.

Baur credited his offense with making plays when it needed to. Dakota recorded 16 first downs to Romeo’s eight.

“I’ll take our offense against anybody,” Baur said.