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Friday's prep football: Last-minute FG ensures Macomb Dakota win over Chippewa Valley

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — Kollin Kralapp drilled a 39-yard field goal with just over a minute to go in Macomb Dakota’s season-opener at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Friday night to earn a 29-20 win with massive conference title implications in Week 1.

Dakota (1-0, 1-0 MAC Red) took a 13-0 lead before wearing down Chippewa Valley’s defense in the final frame with a seven-play drive that set up Kralapp’s 39-yarder and gave the visitors a huge edge in the Macomb Athletic Conference Red Division standings.

“I’d trust that kid with anything,” Dakota head coach Greg Baur said. “I’d trust him with my kids, with any field goal we give him. He’s a great kicker, probably one of the best kickers in the area.”

Caiden Sloan ran the ball 23 times for 99 yards and three touchdowns, and De’Javion Stepney had two interceptions plus a pick-6 to seal the game, and 10 carries for 80 yards for Dakota.

Macomb Dakota wide receiver Clinton Roberson makes the catch and dives for extra yardage as he is tackled by Chippewa Valley defensive back Donte Lanier (8) during the second quarter.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak against bitter rival Chippewa Valley (0-1, 0-1).

“It’s kind of like Michigan and Ohio State. There’s not a day in the offseason that we don’t plan for these guys,” Baur said. “We know what they do, they know what we do. That’s why it’s a classic matchup. There aren’t a lot of secrets.”

Maddox Altrimano caught five passes for 132 yards for Chippewa Valley (0-1, 0-1) and caught a touchdown pass from each Chippewa Valley quarterback, Ryan Schuster and Jack Donovan.

Dakota’s defense got rolling early, forcing two incomplete passes before Stepney picked off a pass by Donovan on third-and-20, giving Dakota starting field position at the 34 of Chippewa Valley.

More:Detroit News high school football scoreboard: Week 1

“He’s our horse,” Baur said of Division 1 recruit Stepney. “He plays both ways, he plays every snap, he returns kicks. I don’t know much more you can ask of a kid. He didn’t get tired, and in the biggest moments of the game, he showed up, which is exactly what big time players are supposed to do.

“I think he’s one of the best players in the state.”

Dakota wasted no time getting in the end zone. Sloan ran the ball five straight times for 34 yards, getting into the end zone from two yards out to make it 6-0, Dakota, after a missed extra point. 

On the next Chippewa Valley possession, Dakota’s defense continued its hunt for the football. It stripped Cephus Harris, recovered by Chippewa Valley, then stripped the quarterback Schuster, recovered by Dakota defensive lineman Jayden Giles.

Dakota took a 13-0 lead with a 10-play, 42-yard touchdown drive as Sloan put it in the end zone from 3 yards out for his second touchdown of the night.

“He’s still a baby,” Baur said about his promising underclassman. “He gutted it out tonight and played really well.”

Chippewa Valley’s offense got rolling with 3:59 to go in the first half. On third-and-10, Schuster fired a strike to Altamirano on a crossing route, as the junior wide receiver turned up the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown pass that cut Dakota’s lead to 13-7.

Dakota botched a punt attempt on its next possession, resulting in a turnover on downs at its own 11 that gave Chippewa Valley the ball with 2:07 left in the half. Zion Mitchell eventually punched it in from the 1-yard-line to help give Chippewa Valley a 14-13 lead with 0:24 to go in the second quarter.

After he carried the ball just twice for seven yards in the first half, Dakota started feeding Stepney. He ran it five times for 54 yards on the opening drive of the second half before Sloan punched it in from 2 yards out to cap off a 11-play touchdown drive, giving Dakota a 20-14 lead with 4:41 left in the third.

Schuster was injured on a second-down play on Chippewa Valley’s first drive of the third quarter, bringing Donovan back into the game on third-and-21. He threw a strike to Altamirano for a 64-yard touchdown pass that tied things up at 20 after a missed extra point.

Chippewa Valley got the ball back with 10:49 to go in the game and a chance to regain the lead. After Chippewa Valley marched into enemy territory, Dakota sacked Schuster twice for a combined loss of 28 yards to end the threat.

Dakota ran the ball six straight plays, resulting in fourht-and-2 at the 22-yard-line. Kralapp drilled a 39-yard field goal with ease to put Dakota up with 1:06 on the clock.

A face-mask penalty appeared to give new life to Chippewa Valley in the final seconds, but instead it opened the door for Stepney to pick off his second pass of the game. This time, he took it to the house.

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.

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