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Dakota Football Coach to be Inducted into Macomb County Sports Hall of Fame

Mike Giannone has led the Cougars to 13 playoffs, this year included, and two state championships since he took over as head coach at Dakota High School in 1996.

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.

Mike Bates October 22, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Congratulations Mike. This is truly a deserved honor and I know how much you share this honor with your entire staff and family. Continued good luck in this years playoffs. You have made Dakota Football a very respected and feared program not only in the Metro area, but state wide as well, and have produced some fantastic football players and fine young men!
football fan October 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Hopefully, the coaching at the Varsity level is better than the freshmen and JV level. So far I am not impressed! Why is it that HS coaches seem to always make the fastest player on the team the QB? I do not understand this concept. The offense is very one sided when you have a running QB! Just being fast doesn’t make a good QB, but you see it over and over again. Also, what kind of program lets a player return to the team after being suspended from school? Why don't you see that story in the paper?
Michael Fusco October 22, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Congratulations Coach Giannone! This is an honor that you truly deserve. The Dakota Football Community and Athletic Department is grateful for your work in developing a program that is recognized state-wide. And we are thankful for the positive experience that you work diligently to provide for our athletes and parents. Thank you. Michael Fusco, Athletic Director
Phil McCune October 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM
We'll deserved Mike, you run your program with class and integrity. Congratulations!
Patriot Girl October 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Sadly, "football fan" appears to know surprisingly little about football and more than enough about sour grapes. Coach Giannone is receiving this honor for a strong PROGRAM, which by definition means that every single level of his organization (i.e., freshman, sophomore, etc.), feeds up through the ranks to make his PROGRAM what it is--a success not only by the measure of championship titles and awards, but by the manner in which it develops young students into becoming better men and human beings. Let's hope that "football fan" is not a Dakota parent embittered by his own offspring's lack of playing time (although I suspect that he/she is). If so, here's hoping that "football fan" can get back to a place where he remembers the fundamental purpose of sports in all of our childrens' lives--to instill a spirit of fun, skill development, participation, cooperation, competition, self-discipline, and commitment--irrespective of skill level. Cheers to Coach Giannone--our high schools need more dedicated coaches like him!
football fan October 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Your right, it does take a VERY strong program to let a player return to school and the team after injuring a fellow player. That is very strong leadership! That teaches all of our young men and women a great lesson, mess up and it will be swept under the rug. So, from your response; "it feeds through the ranks" so this level of leadership starts at the varsity level? I guess I know what I'm in for now. I'm not saying anyone at Dakota is a bad coach, but how can you allow a student/player back after a infraction of that magnitude? So, it is the coaches that need to take your advice to instill our children's lives with, a spirit of fun, skill development, participation, cooperation, competition, self-discipline, and commitment--irrespective of skill level, AND NOT SWEEP THINGS UNDER THE RUG. Or is it when at all cost? You tell me Patriot Girl, you seem to know such much about coaching football.
Patriot Girl October 22, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Really "football fan"? And I am sure that you know every single detail about whatever incident it is that you speak of and every bit of follow up that went into how it was handled. Of course you don't, hence your ill-advised conclusion of "sweeping under the rug." So what you are saying is that some incident occurred and a student was suspended as a result, then at a later point returned to school. Doesn't really sound like anybody ignored it to me. Then again, I'm not a Dakota parent and I'm not lobbying for my child to receive more playing time. Enough said.
Don Herman October 22, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Congratulations Coach Giannone, What an honor to be recognized for all your years of hard work and dedication. Not only for building such a well regarded program but for teaching young men how working hard and working together as a team they can accomplish much more, a lesson many of your players will carry with them throughout their lives. Congratulations to you, your staff and your program!
Don Herman October 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Football Fan, this is not the place nor the time to be making these type of comments! And if you feel so strongly about your convictions, why do you hide behind an alias name? A real man would have the courage to go talk to someone like the head coach or athletic director about an issue, instead of posting a bunch of annonymous garbage in an area someone is being recognized for doing good for our children.

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