Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
DCP-Northwestern’s John Dozier and Western International’s Romello Ross oozed excitement into one of the most thrilling games of the Detroit Public School League football season and have been named PSL Proud Strong Learners of the Week.
When the turf war finally ended last Friday, DCP-NW earned its first victory of the season in a 49-46 shootout, made memorable by the showdown Dozier and Ross waged in combining for nearly 700 total yards and nine touchdowns to lead their respective teams.
Ross, a 5-10 195-pound senior running back, zipped up and down the field for 392 total yards and five TDs, including scoring runs of seven, three, six and 53 yards. He also returned two kickoffs for 145 yards. One return was for a 70-yard TD and the other went 75 yards before he was pushed out at the six-yard line and scored on the next play. He finished the game with 247 yards rushing on 40 carries.
Dozier, a 6-1, 180-pound senior, plays multiple positions for the Colts and he showed his versatility to beat Western by impacting both sides of the ball. On offense, he had seven catches for 175 yards, including three touchdown receptions covering 62, 55 and 20 yards. He also ran five times for 57 yards. On defense, he intercepted three passes, returning one for a 45-yard TD, and also recorded seven tackles.
“We had one of those classic old-fashioned PSL shootouts, my best player against your best player,’’ DCP-Northwestern coach Jimmy Hill said. “They just kept going back and forth. Romello was outstanding but John gave us what we needed to get the win.”
“It was one of those games that was fun to coach,’’ Western coach Andre Harlan said. “(Dozier) was an important piece to them, and Romello did it all. You just wish you could have won a game like that.”
The Proud Strong Learner of the Week honor is the third for Ross, who also was PSLer of the Week as a sophomore and junior for the Cowboys. He’s been a starter since his freshman year at Southwestern, where he played under Harlan, before transferring when that school closed.
Ross is a verbal commit to Central Michigan University and will leave an indelible mark on Western High’s program.
“He’s been the heart and soul of our team,’’ Harlan said. “I’m not just saying that because of his talent, but it’s everything about him. His work ethic and his academic status. He’s got a 3.7 grade point average and he’s a great person. He’s very humble. He doesn’t walk around thinking he’s the top dog. He lets other people praise him. He’s a very grounded young man. I attribute a lot of that to his mom and dad. Since the ninth grade, he’s always had goals. And no matter what goes on, he never deters from his goals.”
Ross is averaging 186 yards rushing in five PSL games this season, including 13 carries for 189 yards against Osborn; 18 carries for 151 against Southeastern; 22 carries for 167 against Douglass; 18 carries for 179 against Denby; and the 40 for 247 against DCP-NW.
“He’s been consistent,” Harlan said. “Romello is always going to show up every game no matter who we’re playing against.”
Dozier, whom Hill refers to as “athlete” on his depth chart, plays primarily receiver on offense and sometimes at quarterback, tailback, tight end and fullback. “He’s pretty much played everywhere but offensive lineman,’’ Hill said. “On defense, he plays corner and safety and also returns kicks.
“Last year, he was our starting quarterback. He played a little tailback and primarily played safety on defense.”
Dozier, in his second year on the varsity, has come a long way since Hill first saw him as a DCP sophomore. He obviously had the talent on the field but was ineligible because he had only a 0.8 GPA.
“When I first got to the school, we didn’t have a lot of talent and he showed up one day at practice and did all the football drills,’’ Hill said. “He kept coming around, getting water and things of that nature, and on his next report card, he had a 3.0 GPA.
“Since then, he’s gotten only one C and one D, and the rest of his grades have been A’s and B’s. I use him as an example for all the kids in our program as somebody from the neighborhood who has been able to rise above the negative things. He’s not a finished product. But he’s a very positive story.”
Over the summer, Dozier attracted the interest of several Division 2 colleges and is in line to be a first for Hill, in his third year as DCP-NW’s head coach.
“We’ve sent every senior except four to college on at least a partial athletic or academic scholarship, but I expect Dozier to be the first full-scholarship offer guy we’ve had since I’ve been at the school,’’ Hill said.
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletes. The award is presented by the DPS Office of Athletics and is sponsored by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators.