Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Central High’s Andre Person was a smashing success upon returning to the field while Pershing High’s Nijzah Hill made a big splash by running away from the field.
As a result of their outstanding performances, Person, a 5-10, 195-pound senior tailback, and Hill, a 5-9 sophomore cross country runner, are the Detroit Public School League’s Proud Strong Learners of the Week.
Described as “a model kid,” by Central football coach Eric Smith, Person was a fast-moving, unstoppable force last Friday in running for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in Central’s 44-6 rout of Osborn. Defensively, Person had eight tackles, four for negative yardage, from his strong safety position.
“He’s the first to practice and the last to leave,” Smith said. “I wish I had 11 guys like him.”
Person’s workhorse effort came in his first game since he re-aggravated a high ankle sprain in the second week of the season. He had missed two games because of the injury before busting loose in his return.
“Being PSL Player of the Week means a lot to me after sitting out all last year and then getting hurt early this year,” said Person, who was ineligible to play as a junior after transferring from a charter school. “Now I’m back for my senior year and I should be good for the rest of the season.”
Person, who had TD runs of 55, 35 and six yards, shares credit with his teammates. “I give all the claps to my offensive linemen,” he said. “They blocked for me and I hit the hole.”
With a 3.5 grade point average, Hill knows the value of hitting the books. An exemplary scholar-athlete, she was a key member of Pershing’s Class A state semifinalist basketball team as a freshman and is emerging as the PSL’s top girls’ cross country runner after placing second last year. “I just thank God for making me run this fast,” she said. “Thanks to my Momma and Daddy and brothers and sisters for encouraging me every day. I’m happy to be here.”
Hill’s winning time of 19:50 Tuesday, Sept. 21 was more than 1:30 faster than her nearest PSL dual meet competitor. She followed that this week Tuesday by lowering her winning time more than a minute, covering the 5,000-meter Belle Isle course in 18:32. “Her goal is to break all the records,” said Shawn Hill, his daughter’s mentor as the girls’ cross country and basketball coach at Pershing. “She wants to be the best in the state.”
As good as she is in cross country, Hill admits she doesn’t really like the sport. But she recognizes the endurance it gives her on the basketball court. She gets added motivation from her Dad being the coach. “He pushes me,” she said. “And if I don’t do well, I know I have to go home with him.”