Cass Tech favored in PSL West
Prep football preview
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
With two state championships under their belt, Cass Tech Head Coach Thomas Wilcher and his Technicians are getting ready for another run at a third consecutive MHSAA Division I State championship. Although they haven’t won a Detroit Public School League Championship, the Technicians are the favorite front runners to win the PSL West Division. Martin Luther King and East English Village are favored to win the PSL East Championship.
Wilcher has eight returning lettermen from last year’s championship squad who finished 12-2 (5-0 PSL West). The returners are junior quarterback Jayru Campbell, senior cornerback/receiver Damon Webb and senior running backs Mike Weber and Deon Drake. He also has a talented group from last year’s junior varsity who only had one loss last season to Birmingham Brother Rice.
Despite these advantages, the Wilcher says his squad still has a lot of work to do before their season-opening contest against Southfield Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at Wayne State University. “The most important thing is to get things under control,” he said in a recent interview. “Getting them to work together and with one another is going to take time and patience. We’re trying to get the linemen working together.
“Southfield, our first opponent, is loaded heavy with seniors; we will be ready for the challenge. It will be a great game at WSU.”
Wilcher expects the team’s top challengers in the PSL West will be Mumford, Cody and Renaissance.
Last year: 6-4, 4-1 PSL West
Head Coach Calvin Norman has only seven returning lettermen of 30 players, but five of them are in the Comets interior line on both sides of the ball.
“To beat teams like Catholic Central and Cass Tech starts with our line,” Norman said. “I have speed at my skill positions, but it’s my line that’s going to be the key because they have played together the last two years.”
Four of the five up front for Cody are senior right tackle/defensive tackle Zarian Carter (6-4, 310), senior right guard Joe Benton (5-11, 246), senior center Zerrick Carter (twin brother of Zarian, 5-7 235), senior left guard Allontia Jordan (6-3, 285) and junior left tackle Brian Taylor (6-5, 350).
At the wide receiver spot will be KaJuan Ocaisco (6-1, 185). He had 500 yards in receptions with five touchdowns last season. Running the ball for the Comets will be junior running back Kenny Lawson (5-8, 165), a transfer from Inkster High.
“I just feel great about this season,” Norman said. “I’m going to see what we’ll do.”
This team might be the biggest challenger to Cass Tech’s domination of the PSL West. The Comets will be tested right away as they play at Catholic Central Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
Last year: 4-5, 3-2, PSL West
Former Southeastern Head Coach Tony Elliot takes over a squad that fell short on its expectations last year. Elliot’s coaching experience over the years at Southwestern, Kettering and Finney will be an asset to get the Phoenix flying again.
“I like our situation here,” Elliot said. “We have a lot of eager kids that are excited to get going. We’re trying to get our football program together here.”
The Phoenix has eight returners of a 35-player squad. Key returners for Renaissance are senior quarterback Malik Phillips (6-0, 170), senior defensive tackle/offensive guard Tre Jordan, senior defensive end/offensive guard De Angelo Vernon (6-1, 250) and senior wide receiver/ corner back Kyle Lewis.
Renaissance will play at Farmington Hills Harrison Aug. 29 at 6 p.m.
Western International Cowboys
Last year: 4-5, 3-2 PSL West
If Head Coach Andre Harlan plays his cards correctly, the Cowboys could be the surprise of the division. Western almost defeated Cody last season, which might have put them in the PSL playoffs. They were a play or two away from a 5-4 season last year. The former Southwestern coach has eight returners and a squad of 30 quality players.
“Things look promising, and we should make the (PSL and state) playoffs,” he said. “I feel we’re going to be more successful than last year.”
Pacing the Cowboys will be junior running back/safety Romello Ross (5-10, 195) who rushed for 14 touchdowns and made four interceptions. Calling the signals will be junior quarterback Jalen Ewing (5-9, 175) who threw for 17 touchdowns and senior offensive tackle/defensive end Jacob Scrubbs (6-4, 280).
Western opens their season against Osborn Aug. 31 at 2 p.m. at Mumford.
Central Academy Trailblazers
Last year: 6-4, 3-3 PSL East
After being an “east side team” located on the west side for several seasons, Head Coach Jimmy Macon’s squad has been moved back to the PSL West. He and his Central grid warriors are more ready than ever.
“The west side is just as competitive as the east,” he said. “We played King, East English and Frederick Douglass every year.
“This year won’t be any different facing Cass Tech, Western, Cody and Renaissance.”
Macon has 11 returning players out of a squad of 36. Key returners are senior offensive tackle/defensive tackle Da’Rae Battles (6-4, 320), senior running back/defensive back Montel Smith (5-9, 165) who scored four TDS last season, senior running back Keith Redding (5-10, 170) who gained 1,200 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, junior defensive end/linebacker Lamont Moore (6-3, 230) and quarterback Emanuel Dawson.
The Trailblazers open the season Aug. 30 down in Steubenville, Ohio, at 6 p.m.
Last year: 2-7, 0-5 PSL West
After looking up from the basement of the PSL West, Head Coach Donshell English has a lot to look forward to with 25 returning players out of a squad of 38. English feels his Mustangs have a shot at winning against Cass Tech, Cody and Renaissance, and taking the PSL West title.
“I think we’re going to be a great team because we’re going to do a lot of good things,” he said, adding that the team’s goal is to make it to both the PSL and state playoffs.
Leading the Mustangs is junior quarterback Monty Stewart (6-0, 185) who threw for 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns. His prime targets are four wide receivers: senior Kameron Pleasant (6-1, 185, four touchdowns), senior Deante Mahone (5-10 175), junior DeShawn Foster (6-3, 185, 35 catches, seven touchdowns, 485 yards) and junior James Mabins (6-3, 185). On the line will be senior offensive and defensive tackles Randolph Sillmon (6-0, 310) and Antoine Baker (6-6, 315).
“We took a lot of lumps last season, and I’m really excited that we have a good nucleus,” English concluded.
Mumford will start off the season at home Aug. 31 against Garden City at 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Collegiate Prep-NW Colts
Last year: 3-6, 1-4 PSL West
Head Coach Jimmy Hill and his Colts are under a new name and a different school: Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern.
“Will have a different type a student, which will produce better athletes,” Hill said. Potential players will have to apply like they do at Cass Tech and Renaissance, he added, and there will be honor students coming in from the middle schools.
Hill said the team had a big turnout this year with 32 players, including four returning players. Key returners are seniors offensive guard/defensive tackle Jonte’ Lenoir (5-9, 260), and offensive tackle Merrick Williams (6-1, 240). The returning juniors are defensive end/tight end Jacob Miller (6-6, 225) and tailback Tyrrell Watts (6-2, 207).
“I don’t expect this season to be a learning year,” Hill said. “We’re going for the state playoffs this year.”
The Colts will open their season Aug. 30 against Highland Park at 7 p.m.
Henry Ford Trojans
Last year: 2-7, 2-4 PSL West
The 2013 season will be a learning one for new Head Coach Ken Fenton. With only four returning players out of a squad of 28, the Trojans will be starting over this fall.
“It’s going to be a rebuilding process,” Fenton said. “I’m new here at Henry Ford, and we’re starting from the bottom up with a new offense.”
Anchoring the Trojans will be juniors Matthew Townsend (defensive end, 6-3, 215), James Wilkers (quarterback, 5-10, 185), Damarian Dase (tailback, 5-10, 175) and Sydney McMillan (offensive guard/linebacker, 6-0, 230).
Henry Ford opens up their season at home against Denby Aug. 30 at 5:30 p.m.