Buzz grows louder for Detroit Public School League football finals Friday at Ford Field

In any season, playing for the Detroit Public School League city championship is a career highlight. But for the football teams at M.L. King, Crockett Tech, Henry Ford and Frederick Douglass High Schools, the return of the PSL championships to Ford Field surely makes the moment even more special.
       The excitement begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. with the Division II title game between Ford (7-0 league, 7-1 overall) and Douglass (6-1 league, 7-1 overall). That will be followed at 7 p.m. with the Division I title game between Crockett (6-1 league, 7-1 overall) and King (6-1 league, 6-2 overall). Admission is $10 to see both games.
     Not since 2006 has the PSL crowned its football champions inside the home of the Detroit Lions — and the anticipation among the four finalists is palpable.
        “It’s going to be great for the kids,’’ King coach Dale Harvel said. “For a lot of them, high school football will be the last football they’ll ever play.  To have a chance to play at Ford Field is an experience they’ll never forget.”
     “That atmosphere will bring out the best in the guys,’’ Crockett coach Rod Oden said. “There’s a big buzz around the school. This is our second consecutive trip to the city championship game and we’ve got 17 seniors.  With the game being at Ford Field for the first time in five years, we see it as a reward for having another great season.”
     Al Demps, in his first season as Douglass’ coach, has seen his team overcome adversity this season, including the theft of its uniforms and equipment. He finds it interesting they’ll be playing for the city championship on the field of the Lions, given the fact that it was a pair of Lions players who stepped up and donated equipment to replace their stolen gear.
    “It’s a big game for us,’’ Demps said. “Not only are we playing for the city championship, which was our goal, but we’ll be playing on the same field as Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best who helped us when we needed help. That’s inspirational.”
     Jackie Muhammad, Ford’s coach, also sees an irony. His school is back in the championship mix after an extended absence. “Three other teams are playing, but we’re the only school named after the same man that Ford Field is named after,’’  Muhammad said. “Like I told the team, it’s a special year for us. We’ve got to take advantage of it.”

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