In the span of two seasons, King High senior Avonte’ Maddox has established himself as one of the Detroit Public School League’s most versatile and exciting football talents.
“For Avonte’ to have played only two years of football at King, he has accomplished a lot,’’ Crusaders coach Dale Harvel said of Maddox, the PSL Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him play on Saturday (in the collegiate ranks). He’s one of the top players in the state and shows that every week against top competition. He’s a threat any time he’s on the field.”
As King’s No. 1 receiver, Maddox came through as expected Friday in the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoff game against Wyandotte Roosevelt.
In addition to contributing to King’s shutdown defense from his cornerback position and returning punts on special teams, Maddox’s 35-yard touchdown catch accounted for the only score in a 6-0 victory that earned the Crusaders the regional championship and advanced them into Saturday’s 1 p.m. Division 2 state semifinal game against Birmingham Brother Rice at Wayne State University.
“I’m feeling good,” Maddox said. “We’re still playing and it feels great to be the Proud Strong Learner of the Week. Our last game didn’t go as planned but we got the job done. We did great on defense but our offense needs to step up a little bit more. Wyandotte was pretty good. Their defense was strong like ours. We could have had more touchdowns but they called one back.”
Maddox, a 5-10, 165-pound speedster, has rarely left the field this season in amassing 2,248 total yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s listed on the roster as a wide receiver, running back and defensive back and, through last weekend, had 35 catches for 1100 yards and 17 touchdowns, 85 carries for 1002 yards and six touchdowns, five interceptions, three returned for TDs, and 475 return yards, including two punts returned for TDs.
“He’s the top guy,’’ Harvel said. “He’s our No. 1 threat as a receiver and he takes on everyone else’s No. 1 receiver on defense. He’s a running back at times and we have package with him at quarterback. In fact, he opened the Wyandotte game at QB. We do a lot of things with him because of his talents.”
Maddox, who has a verbal commitment to the University of Pittsburgh, plans to play defensive back in college but enjoys defense and offense equally.
“I love catching a pass and scoring touchdowns and I love ripping an interception and taking it back for a touchdown,’’ he said. “I’ve been doing both of them since I’ve been here.”
Maddox plans to major in sports management and aspires to be a physical therapist. “I want to help the kids being injured,’’ he said.
The surprising thing about Maddox’s impact is that he didn’t begin playing high school football until his junior year at King. Before then, the extent of his Crusaders’ career was playing shortstop for the baseball team.
“I was messing around with little league football when I shouldn’t have been,’’ he said. “I was playing baseball here and that’s all I wanted to focus on. But the quarterback from last year’s team kept telling me to come out. I was going to stop playing football after Pop Warner. But now I love it.
“It’s been good. I’ve got a great relationship with all the coaches. I’ve done well to get so many full-ride scholarship offers after playing just two years.”
Maddox can only imagine what else he might have accomplished had he began playing in the PSL as a freshman. “If I can say anything to any student, it would be to start when you first get to high school and do the best you can,’’ he said.
With so many thrills, Maddox can’t put his finger on any particular career highlight.
“It’s just great going out there playing with my team,” he said. “I love playing with them and practicing every day with them. It’s a brotherhood. We don’t let any one person do anything alone. If we’re going to the store or going to get something to eat, we do everything together.”
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 sponsored for the fourth year in a row by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators.