Dakota High School is a formidable force on the gridiron, just ask any team that’s battled – and lost to – the state champions. While many contribute to the success of the team, Mike Giannone, the Cougar’s head coach since 1996, is the driving force that pushes the Cougars to victory after victory.
With an 8-1 record this year, the Cougars are on their way to another championship season in 2012.
Giannone’s 34 years of coaching high school football will be recognized next year, when he’s inducted into The Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame on May 2.
“It’s a big honor and nice to be recognized ... it’s really humbling,” he said.
Only the second coach in Dakota’s history, Giannone brought the team to the playoffs 12 times – 13 if you count the 2012 football season. His record is equally impressive with more than 127 wins. In addition, his teams were named Macomb County Team of the Year three times, and the Cougars won back-to-back Division 1 State Championships in 2006 and 2007.
Although recognition by the Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame is impressive, it’s certainly not Giannone’s first honor. He’s been named the Macomb County Coach of the year three times; is an eight-time Michigan High School Regional Coach of the Year; three-time Detroit Free Press All Metro East Coach of the Year; two-time Detroit News All Metro Coach of the Year; 2006 Michigan High School Coaches Association Coach Of The Year; 2006 Detroit News Dream Team Coach of the Year; 2007 Michigan Division 1 Coach of the Year; and 2007 Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year, according to the Michigan High School Football Association Hall of Fame.
"Mike is an outstanding leader, teacher, and coach. He is able to lead and direct the Dakota Football Program and football staff with poise, integrity, and wisdom," said Michael Fusco, athletic director at Dakota. "Because of his leadership and coaching expertise, he truly deserves this induction into the Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame."
A graduate of Warren Cousino High School, Giannone earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State University, and a master’s of education from Saginaw Valley State in administration leadership.
He lives in Clinton Township with his wife, Dottie. They have three adult daughters.
Patch reached out to Coach Giannone to ask about his induction and noteworthy career:
Patch: Congratulations on making the Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame. What do you think of the recognition?
Giannone: I feel very honored.
Patch: You’ve had other coaching honors, including being named Coach of the Year three times in the past. What’s special about the Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame?
Giannone: To be recognized and be put in the same company as some of the great coaches that are the hall is very humbling.
Patch: You have a stellar career record. What’s the secret to your coaching success?
Giannone: It is not a secret. You get great people to work with you (we have a great staff) and work together for a common goal and they don't care who gets the credit as long as we are working toward that goal.
Patch: Dakota’s record this year is impressive, as well. Overall: 8-1-0 League: 6-0-0. What do you attribute the success of the 2012 season to?
Giannone: First, we give a lot of credit to the senior leadership we have on our team. The majority of these guys are close friends and have been in the program for four years. They put a lot of time in making themselves better.
Patch: How will you head the Cougars to victory in the playoffs this year?
Giannone: We have the same plan we have used for the past 15 years. We will continue to emphasize the little things that will make us better.