Cass Tech and King win regional thrillers
State Football Playoffs
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Thanks to a strong second half, Cass Tech continues their quest for a third straight state title. Down 17-7 against Macomb Dakota at the half, the Technicians’ defense kept the Cougars off the board. The offense, led by team captain and quarterback Jayru Campbell, however, lit up the scoreboard with 25 points.
Cass Tech (12-0) remained unbeaten and won the MHSAA Division 1 Region 4 Championship Nov. 16, 32-17, in front of a packed crowd at Cass Tech.
“It was a good game and Jayru (Campbell) showed something today,” said Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher. “Jayru used his legs to make things happen. Now we know why he’s so fast.“
The Cougars (11-1) scored 10 points in the first quarter on a 20-yard field goal and a five-yard run to take a 10-0 lead. Cass Tech cut the lead to 10-7 with a 61-yard TD sprint by Campbell in the second quarter. Dakota answered with a 20-yard TD pass to lead 17-7 at the half.
That is when the tide turned for the Technicians. “We just came out and played the kind of game we’re supposed to play,” said senior offensive guard Nashon Burns. “I told my fellow linemen to keep communicating with each other and work hard!”
And the Technicians’ offensive line did their job, erupting for 19 points in the third quarter. The Technicians scored their first TD of the second half on a 16-yard run. On the next offensive drive, Campbell hit wide receiver Andre Cook on a 20-yard scoring pass. Then, Campbell sprinted to the end zone on an eight-yard run. Cass Tech led 26-17 after three quarters. Campbell went 61-yards for another score in the fourth.
As for the defense, “we just tightened up our coverage and played our game,” said defensive back Damon Webb. “I feel keeping them off the board in the second half was a huge accomplishment. We can build on this.”
“We just kept our heads on straight because the game wasn’t over yet,” said defensive back Phillip Parham.
Martin Luther King (10-1) relied on big plays by its defense as the Crusaders defeated Wyandotte Roosevelt (11-1) in a heart-stopping 6-0 victory Nov. 15 at the MHSAA Division 2 Region 4 Championship at Wyandotte.
“Our game plan now is to stay healthy,” said King Head Coach Dale Harvel. “We’re going to keep playing defense. Wyandotte was a very tough team because they were undefeated and our kids played well. The defense was very important and got us this far.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Crusaders scored the game’s only points in the second quarter. With 35 seconds left in the half, quarterback James Speight threw a 35-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Avonte Maddox. King led at the half, 6-0.
As the King defense, led by linebacker/defensive end Dayvon Austin kept making big plays, the King offense moved the ball against Roosevelt. The Crusaders had two big opportunities to put the game away: An 18-yard TD run by Maddox in the third quarter was called back due to a holding call and a 22-yard field goal was blocked in the fourth quarter.
In the closing seconds of the game, Maddox fumbled a punt giving the ball back to the Bears on the King 46 with under a minute to play. Roosevelt drove to the King six-yard line with 32 seconds left. But on fourth and goal, Austin chased the Roosevelt QB out of the pocket forcing him to throw a pass out of bounds destroying the Bears’ final chance.
“Our defense was great today,” said Maddox. “We have to play better for Brother Rice. As Wyandotte was trying to score, I told everybody to keep their heads in the game and we came through.”
“Speed was the key to the game,” said Austin. “We were trouble for them and it feels good. I just want to get back to Ford Field (for the state championship game). As for Brother Rice, we’re up for the challenge.”