Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Then there were two.
Cass Tech, in Division 1, and East English Village, in Division 3, are the Detroit Public School League’s last remaining teams entering this weekend’s district finals of the Michigan High School Athletic Association football state playoffs.
Both teams play Saturday with Cass Tech (8-2) hosting Dearborn (7-3) at 1 p.m., and East English Village (8-2) traveling to play St. Clair (9-1) at East China Stadium at 7 p.m.
Last weekend’s district openers claimed four of the PSL’s six state playoff qualifiers as league champion King (6-4) lost to Southfield 22-19 and Cody (6-4) lost to Oak Park 35-20 in Division 2, Central lost to St. Clair 32-26 in Division 3, and Douglass (5-4) lost to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 15-14 in Division 7.
East English Village, the lone PSL team to start the playoffs at home, recovered mightily after ending the regular season with a 51-48 loss to King in the league championship game. Coach Rod Oden’s Bulldogs blasted Marysville 63-25 in the playoff opener and was led by a behemoth performance from Desmond King, who had seven carries for 165 yards, including TD runs of 50, 28, 10, 3 and 35 yards. The senior running back and defensive back, who has committed to Ball State, also had a 72-yard interception return for a sixth touchdown.
“I thought we played really well,’’ Oden said. “Our offensive line and defensive line put us on pace to do some good things. We were able to run the football and we played good defense.”
St. Clair got all it could handle last week before winning its first playoff game in five years, defeating Central. But the Saints know they will have to step it up a notch to contend with East English Village.
“They have a couple of players that are going to play in college next year,” Saints coach Bill Nesbitt said. ‘It’s a really talented team. We sent someone to see them. They have a lot of athletes. They are going to be a great challenge.”
Oden, while expecting a challenge, said “I think we match up pretty well for what they try to do.
“They run a triple-option offense and they put a lot of points on the scoreboard in their league. We’ve been practicing on playing assignment football, reading our keys and sending 11 guys to the football, If we handle our assignments, we should come out of this with a win.”
Oden said being at home to start the playoffs helped kick-start his team, but he’s also looking forward to taking the Bulldogs on the road. A volunteer parent group has organized a fan bus that will transport the Bulldogs’ fans to the game.
“We understand that you’ve got to win on the road to advance in the playoffs,’’ he said. “This game is an opportunity. The last time we played in that stadium we didn’t fare too well (in last year’s regional finals against Marine City). St. Clair shares the same stadium with Marine City, and we’re of the mindset that we’re going back to get what we left out there last year. We’re looking forward to taking Bulldog nation on the road and getting our fans fired up for Saturday’s game.”
Cass Tech, the defending Division 1 state champions, will be at home after winning its playoff opener on the road last weekend 37-3 at Grosse Pointe South. The Technicians will be facing a Dearborn team that upset its arch-rival Dearborn Fordson 24-14.
“They’ve got a quarterback who can do some things and I’m expecting a pretty tough game,’’ Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. “If we show up and play like we can, I think we’ll be alright. But if the players go out there second-guessing themselves, it could be a hard game.”
The one thing Wilcher feels positive about is having the district championship settled in front of the Technicians’ legion of home fans.
“We want to play at Cass because we feel we can’t be beat at Cass,’’ he said. “We’ve been running the ball well and doing a lot of positive things the last couple of games. With our fans behind us and playing on our own field, we should be able to keep everything rolling in the right direction.”