Cass Tech aims to lift PSL’s stature by repeating as Division 1 state football champions

Chuck Johnson
Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics

Cass Tech (11-2) will carry the pride of the Detroit Public School League for the second year in a row Saturday at 1 p.m. when it faces Detroit Catholic Central (9-4) in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 football championship game at Ford Field.

The same two teams met in last year’s title game, but this time, as defending champions, the Technicians’ reputation precedes them,

Technicians players celebrate earning a repeat appearance in the state finals

Fans across the state still remember the green and white onslaught of offense, defense and special teams that resulted in a 49-13 Cass Tech victory a year ago, making Coach Thomas Wilcher’s team the first in PSL history to win the Division 1 state football crown.

The PSL’s first and only other state football championship was King’s Division 2 title in 2007. Cass Tech aims to break further historic ground by becoming the league’s first repeat state football champion.

“I’m excited about the rematch, but mostly we’re excited about getting back there,’’ Wilcher said. “We’re back in the championship game.  That’s hard to accomplish and a dream fulfilled.”

From six PSL teams that qualified for this year’s playoffs, Cody, Central, Douglass and league champion King were knocked out in the first round, while league runner-up East English Village won two games and a district title before getting sidelined in the regional finals.

Cass Tech, with a dozen or more major college prospects, is again the last one standing. Same as last year, the Technicians could win a state championship despite not winning the league. That’s a testimony to their resilience and speaks volumes about how tough it is to come out on top in the PSL.

Coach Thomas Wilcher (center), Cass Tech principal Lisa Phillips and staff bask in the afterglow of victory

“The credit starts with our administration and the teachers and counselors,’’ Wilcher said. “Everybody has to be working together. It means a lot and gives the team a vote of confidence to know that everybody is pulling for them and wants them to succeed not just on the field, but in the classroom. It’s great to hear from a teacher who’s letting me know what a player is doing or not doing. If you don’t have that kind of cooperation, it’s very hard to have a successful season.”

The Technicians appear to be peaking at the right time. They’ve reeled off successive playoff victories against Grosse Pointe South 37-3, Dearborn 42-23, Saline 21-14, and last week in the semifinals against Lake Orion 34-27.

The victory against Lake Orion was led by sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell and sophomore running back Mike Weber, who combined to give the Technicians a dominating air and ground attack. Wilcher also gave kudos to Will White, Kenton Gibbs, Matt Hill and Joe Journey for their standout defense.

Cass Tech sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell, and his full-face cutout, with his proud family

Particularly sweet for the Technicians was the opportunity to finally avenge their semifinal loss two years ago against Lake Orion, which went on to win the 2010 state crown. Were it not for a fumble five yards from the goal line late in that game, Cass Tech most likely would be playing for the state championship a third year in a row.

“It was a good feeling to beat Lake Orion because that loss two years ago was very traumatizing,’’ Wilcher said. “But we’re not done yet. We’ve got to keep working and, most importantly, we have to stay focused.”

Wilcher knows Catholic Central would like nothing more than to exact its own revenge against his team.

“We’ve got to bring our A game Saturday,’’ he said. “We have to be well-rounded. Our special teams have to be great. We have to control field position with our special teams. We have to control the line of scrimmage by rushing the football and stopping their run game. We have to control the passing game, offensively and defensively. We have to shine in all facets of the game.”

Cass Tech used that recipe to dominate Catholic Central last year.

Wilcher is trying to stick to what proved successful, including the 15-20 minute walk from the school to Ford Field. The players, coaches and some fans will depart Cass Tech on foot at 11 a.m.

”It’s something we started talking about a couple of years ago and the kids loved it last year,’’ Wilcher said. “We’re going to do it again. Hopefully we can do it every year.”



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