Division 1 - Cougars Maul Spartans

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Division 1

Macomb Dakota 41 Livonia Stevenson 21

The first thing I said in my first blog (after a description of how I would divide the state for games) was that Mitch Lovett would have a tough season and Coach Giannone had to replace 34 players. I didn’t know if they could repeat, but they showed today what a great team they are.

Stevenson took the kickoff but was unable to do anything with it…just like everyone else who received the opening kickoff so far this weekend. Dakota couldn’t do anything with their first possession either, unless you count losing 10 yards. After trading punts, Dakota quarterback Mitch Lovett ran 30 yards on a keeper to move into Stevenson territory. He showed nice touch on the same drive, throwing a beautiful pass to Mike Kwiatkowski who was tackled at the nine yard line. It was the same combination that scored the touchdown to finish the 92 yard scoring drive with slightly under two minutes left in the quarter. Lovett connected with Kyle Demaster for a 66 yard touchdown as the clock ran out on the first quarter. Livonia woke up and moved the ball into the red zone mostly on the legs of quarterback Mitchell White. Faced with third and four at the seven, Austin White took the handoff and stretched out to go into the end zone as he was being tackled. The Cougars moved the ball down the field behind big passes and a tough ground game. When the third down pass turned into a quarterback scramble and still came up short, Macomb elected to go for it and were not able to convert; turning the ball over on the Livonia 31. A three and out ensued. On the first play after the punt, Lovett completed a 61 yard pass to Rodney Hush for a touchdown. Hush outraced a few Stevenson players and the score was suddenly 21-7 with 3:01 left until the break. Wade Stahl returned the ball 47 yards into Dakota territory. None of that mattered as Livonia was sacked when the protection broke down. When there is only a minute left before halftime and you are backed up at your own 17, conventional wisdom says to run it and kill the clock. That wasn’t the plan for Macomb Dakota though. They came out passing but turned to the run to kill the rest of the clock.

When the Cougars got the ball to start the second half, they were not looking to preserve their lead; they were looking to add to it. It was easy to move the ball at first, but then the Spartan defense tightened up and the third down and nine play Dakota eeked out a first down. The next play was a Cougar touchdown from Lovett to Demaster on a 24 yard toss to paydirt. Demaster picked off Mitchell White’s pass and returned it over 50 yards for the touchdown on the next possession with a little more than seven minutes to play in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Austin White returned the ball 90 yards for a touchdown for the Spartans. A long pass for Macomb Dakota was wiped out due to a block in the back penalty. Then the Cougars had a third and five and threw a touchdown to Demaster pushing the score up 41-14. Stevenson pushed back and moved the ball well to end the third quarter. Dakota’s defense wanted to get the ball back to their offense and forced a fourth and five incompletion to get the ball back on downs at the 24. The defense got their wish, but all the offense was able to do was burn a little over two and a half minutes off the clock. Wade Stahl rumbled 37 yards only to be pushed out bounds at the Cougar 16. A couple of runs pushed the ball down to the three yard line and on first and goal, Austin White crossed the goal line for the score. The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful and Dakota took over at their own 44 yard line. Three rushing attempts did not net a first down so the punting unit came in and did their duty. At this point, the starters were subbed out to give other players a chance to say they played in a championship game.

Interesting Game Notes: Dakota had 87 players on their roster for today’s game, by far the largest I’ve seen for any team. 22 of those players were at least six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. Livonia Stevenson and Macomb Dakota fans are as crazy about their team as Marine City was last night. It’s louder for this game than some of the Lions games I’ve been to. Stevenson had a total of -2 yards in the first quarter. Mitch Lovett had eight completions for 187 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Mill Coleman of Farmington Hills Harrison had his record (4 touchdowns) when Lovett tossed his fifth touchdown pass. Kyle Demaster broke the finals record for touchdowns caught and points scored in a championship game. Lovett also set a record for yards thrown in a championship game as well as the team record single game record with 301.