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Macomb Dakota snaps Clarkston’s 27-game win streak with convincing 35-10 win

By: Scott Burnstein, August 28, 2015, 12:19 pm

Macomb Twp. – Macomb Dakota broke two-time defending Division 1 state champion Clarkston’s spirit by outscoring the Wolves 28-3 over the final three quarters of their season opener. Then, the Cougars broke Clarkston’s two-year win streak. 

Behind a balanced attack, featuring key playmaking in the passing and running games, as well as on defense, Dakota downed Clarkston 35-10 before a jam-packed crowd at Dakota to snap the Wolves’ 27-game win streak, which dates back to August 2013.

“This is a very nice win, we did some very positive things tonight,” Dakota coach Mike Giannone said. “But that team over there (Clarkston) is a mighty fine program. You don’t collect 27 wins in a row by accident. In terms of our squad, we finished strong and that’s what you like to see.”

With the exception of its first drive, Clarkston was listless. On the other hand, Dakota surged, taking advantage of the Wolves sluggish play to race to the blowout win.

Senior Kaiser Carleton was fantastic carrying the ball for the Cougars all night, racking up 210 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). His 25-yard dash with 3:11 to go in the first half placed Dakota on top to stay, 14-7. Carleton had a shoestring catch down the left sideline on a pass from backup quarterback Brett Droski, who saw spot duty in the third and fourth quarters, turned into a 34-yard touchdown catch and a 21-10 lead early in the second half. The icing on the cake was Carleton’s 10-yard scoring run with just over five minutes to play to put the game to bed.

“I just run hard,” said the 5-6 jitterbug of his effort. “That’s how this whole team plays. We don’t worry about the score, we just play as hard as we can, compete to the fullest. That’s our style. Hopefully, like tonight, good things happen.”

Antonio Patrico was crisp in his first start under center for Dakota, as the senior signal-caller completed 12-of-18 attempts for 160 yards. He rushed for an additional 50 yards.

Clarkston was shorthanded on Thursday. The Wolves didn’t have star senior running back Nolan Eriksen in the lineup due to an ankle injury. Eriksen is not expected to return unitl the third week of the season. Mike Fluegel (75 yards) replaced Eriksen and Fluegel scored the first touchdown of the game on a 20-yard scoring scamper.

As a whole, Clarkston’s offense had trouble sustaining any momentum following Fluegel’s touchdown. The Wolves did not have a single passing yard.

Clarkston senior field general Anthony Reiner has the unenviable task of stepping into the shoes of 2015 Wolves grad D.J. Zezula (Wayne State), the club’s starter the last three years and the Wolves’ winningest starter in school history. Reiner found it difficult to find a comfort zone Thursday.

“Dakota pushed it into the next gear as the game went on and we couldn’t, that told the story,” longtime Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said. “It’s not a bad loss if we can learn from this. I think we’ll be okay going forward.”

The lone bright spot for the Wolves Thursday was the leg of senior placekicker-punter Alex Kessman – his 56-yard field goal at the conclusion of the second quarter pulled Clarkston within 14-10 at the half and several of his punts were impressive.

Richardson’s troops get back on the field next week against Bloomfield Hills, while Dakota will lock horns with rival Chippewa Valley.