November 4, 2008

Future Chippewas face off in playoff matchup

ChippewaCountry.com was in attendance for the recent first round playoff game between the Troy Colts and the Macomb Dakota Cougars. In a game that featured several CMU verbal commitments, it was Jeff Fantuzzi's two-time defending Division 1 State Champion Cougars who prevailed 28-10 over Will Schwarz's Colts. ChippewaCountry.com was able to catch up with Fantuzzi after the game as he responded to his team's recent victory, his play, and his future as a Central Michigan Chippewa.

Jeff Fantuzzi anchored a line that produced three 50+ yard touchdown runs by junior running back Keefe Corley. For the game, he recorded seven pancake blocks and was instrumental in every scoring drive.

"Personally, I thought I played pretty well. I just like to go out there and create mismatches and capitalize on them" added Fantuzzi.

The game got off to a physical start with both teams struggling to find a rhythm, but eventually both teams would find there mark and the scoreboard read 14-10 Macomb Dakota at halftime. The Cougars would answer on their first offensive series in the 2nd half when Corley took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage for a 76 yard touchdown run. Dakota would never look back, limiting the Troy offense and pounding the running game on offense to their first victory of the 2008 playoffs in front of a packed crowd. For Fantuzzi and the Cougars, the victory was huge.

"This victory means everything to our team. People say this is a down year for Dakota and that this years team isn't as good as last years. We just want to prove them wrong."

It can't hurt playing in front of home crowd and near capacity filled stadium.

"The atmosphere here, it's great. It's really indescribable. A crowd like this, it was like a college atmosphere."

Next up for the Cougars is Sterling Heights Stevenson. The Titans were victorious over the Chippewa Valley Big Red. Dakota defeated Stevenson 10-0 earlier this year. Fantuzzi had this to say about the Titans:

"They are a good team that is really cooking right now. There due to have a big game against us and we know they'll be tough".

Unfortunately, with the Dakota win, the season is over for Will Schwarz and the Troy Colts. Will was neutralized by a bigger and more aggressive Cougar offensive line for most of the first half, but showed his playmaking ability and made a tremendous effort to keep his Colts in the game in the second half. Playing on defense, punt team, punt return team and kickoff return team, Schwarz finished the game with five tackles, two for a loss, a sack and a blocked punt.

"I can't say enough about Will Schwarz, he's a heck of a player. I have the ultimate respect for Will Schwarz. We were going at it all game and I can't wait to get to CMU and start working with him" said Fantuzzi.

Fantuzzi also updated his progress with enrolling early and his future as a Chippewa.

"As of right now, I'm about 98% sure I'll be able to graduate and enroll at CMU early, I'm just waiting on the final paperwork to go through".

"I've been up to Mt. Pleasant a few times and the trips have been great. I plan on making the trip for the Ball State game as well".

With the loss of a few key lineman for CMU next year, Fantuzzi is expected to have an immediate impact. However, he sees more to his role than just playing.

"I want the same role I have here at Dakota. I want to be a captain and a role guy. In a lot of ways, I look up to current CMU offensive tackle Andrew Hartline".

We here at ChippewaCountry.com wish Jeff Fantuzzi the best of luck the rest of the way in the state playoffs and look forward to seeing him don the Chippewa maroon and gold after a Macomb Dakota championship three peat.


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