Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
The high school football champions of the state are now the football champions of the city.
A Detroit Public School League crowd, composed of a humongous turnout of Cass Technicians’ fans and a huge throng of equally-spirited King Crusaders’ fans, saw a great city championship football game between the PSL’s finest Friday night at Ford Field.
The much-anticipated battle of unbeatens matched a pair of fierce rivals: defending PSL champion King and two-time defending Division 1 state champion Cass Tech. Coach Thomas Wilcher’s Technicians prevailed 20-14 against Coach Dale Harvel’s Crusaders in a memorable event. The winner was the PSL.
Cass Tech had won the previous two Division 1 state titles but had not won the PSL championship since 2010.
“It’s the first time we’ve won this since I’ve been in high school, so I’m definitely proud and happy,” said Cass Tech junior quarterback Jayru Campbell, who completed 7-of-18 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. “The fact that it was King makes it even more special.”
With big plays busting out all over Ford Field, the game lived up to the hype. The defenses controlled much of the game, including a scoreless first quarter.
With 5:38 left before halftime, junior running back Mike Weber, who rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries, scored on a 38-yard touchdown through the middle of King’s defense to give Cass Tech a 7-0 lead. On their next possession, the Technicians hiked the lead to 14-0 when Campbell hooked up with freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 71-yard touchdown pass play.
King senior quarterback James Speight connected with senior Omari McCauley for a 65-yard touchdown strike to trim Cass Tech’s lead to 14-6 at halftime.
Crusaders senior wide receiver Avonte Maddox made several sterling catches and had six receptions for 126 yards at halftime, but was held in check after that.
Cass Tech senior tight end Christopher McDaniel’s 17-yard over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone made the score 20-6 with 6:51 left in the third quarter. Speight, who completed 9 of 22 passes for 193 yards and pair of TDs, connected on a 63-yard scoring pass, again to McCauley, that pulled King within a touchdown with 4:04 left.
The Technicians’ defense took over from there, preserving the victory when Speight was sacked twice, first by senior linebacker William White and again by senior linebacker Jamaal Brown.
“They got after it real well and did a great job,” King’s Harvel said. “We were worn down. Most of our linemen go both ways. I’m very impressed with their defense, but I thought our defense played well, too.”
“This win was very important for us,” Cass Tech’s Wilcher said. “Being considered one of the top teams in the country, and to keep falling in your own league, it’s kind of hard. But when you got a great coach like coach Harvel, you always expect to face a great team. King high school has a great head coach, a great coaching staff, a great team, and we have to respect them every year.”
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Cass Tech (9-0) and King (7-1) head into the state playoffs this weekend along with five other PSL teams: Mumford, Denby, East English Village, Cody and Renaissance.
The Technicians (9-0) begin their bid for a Division 1 state championship threepeat when they host Grosse Pointe South (6-3) Saturday at 1 p.m. King (7-1) hosts PSL foe Cody (6-3) Friday at 5 p.m.
MHSAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS first-round pairings: (PSL team in ALL CAPS)
Division 1 — [Region 4, District 2] Grosse Pointe South (6-3) at CASS TECH (9-0), Saturday 1 p.m.
Division 2 — [Region 3, District 2] RENAISSANCE (6-3) at Oak Park (5-4), Friday 6 p.m.
Division 2 — [Region 4, District 1] CODY (6-3) at KING (7-1), Friday 5 p.m.; EAST ENGLISH VILLAGE (6-3) at Grosse Pointe North (6-3), Friday 7 p.m.
Division 3 — [Region 4, District 1] DENBY (7-2) at MUMFORD (7-2), Saturday 1 p.m.