In Play with Tom Markowski


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Dakota handles adversity, looks to take down Eisenhower in district final

By: Tom Markowski, November 1, 2016, 4:43 pm

Macomb – The season hasn’t progressed the way Greg Baur would have liked but the first-year Macomb Dakota head coach and his Cougars are where they expected to be.

Dakota was ranked No. 3 behind top-ranked Detroit Cass Tech and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the preseason and after the Cougars defeated St. Mary’s (35-28) in the opener there weren’t any doubts that Dakota was on its way to a great season.

It didn’t work out that way. Dakota lost to Utica Eisenhower (26-13) the second game and even then most would have predicted the Cougars would win out and finish the regular season 8-1.

Dakota led Warren Mott, 20-7, before the Marauders came back to win, 27-20, and in week seven Dakota lost a wild game to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, 40-38.

Sitting at 4-3 and needing to win its last two games to secure a playoff spot was shocking.

The Cougars regained their composure, won two straight, then faced paid back Chippewa Valley with a 48-27 victory in last week’s Division 1 pre-district at Chippewa Valley.

Dakota (7-3) has a return engagement with No. 3-ranked Eisenhower (10-0) in a district final at Utica High on Friday at 7 p.m.

“Some of it was bad luck,” Baur said of the inconsistencies. “Some of it was injuries. We went through some adversities. The loss to Chip was tough. We don’t usually give up that many points. But we took it to Romeo (45-7) the next week.

“We had some key spots on defense to fill and it took some time for them to gain experience. (Running back) Kaiser (Carleton) missed four games and we had a receiver (Evan Sivec) who was out for four games, too. But they’re excuses. Everybody has injuries. Our defense is coming around. I think we’re good there.”

The offense is clicking. Both Carleton and Sivec are back and contributing as they did before being out. Quarterback Brett Droski and receiver Jaylen Hall have played well all season, and both have set school records. Droski has thrown a school-record 29 touchdown passes and is averaging 235.6 yards passing per game. Hall has 41 receptions for a school-record 1,103 yards and 18 touchdowns. Hall had three touchdown receptions in the victory over St. Mary’s.