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Cass Technical High School won for the second year in a row the Division 1 Michigan High School Athletic Association State Football Championship. Head coach Thomas Wilcher (above center) poses with Cass Tech players and their first-place trophy. See story A15. CHUCK JOHNSON, DPS PHOTO

Technicians win Division I crown, 36-21; Loyola falls short to Ishpeming, 20-14

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Last year’s 49-13 rout by Cass Tech was no fluke.

That’s what Novi Catholic Central found out Nov. 24 as the Technicians got ready for the rematch against the Shamrocks. Catholic Central wanted a “grudge rematch” and they got it. The Technicians built a 29-7 lead and never looked back as they silenced the once powerful Novi Catholic Central, 36-21, to win their second straight Division 1 Title in front of an overzealous crowd at the Michigan High School Athletic Association State Football Finals at Ford Field. Cass Tech finished their season with an impressive 12-2 record. Novi CC finished at 9-5.

“I was very worried about the mindset of my players and wondered how they would handle the run and play action,” said Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher. “It was a chance for us to get our respect as a Detroit Public School team. The city had our back.”

Wilcher added that the city of Detroit came out to support the repeat victors because they were also representing the city.

“I told my team this was Cass Tech’s time to be on top. Don’t let the game get climatic. I don’t know what to say but we never trailed in the game,” he said.

Wilcher also credited Cass Tech’s administrators, teachers, counselors, student body and the entire staff for the win.

Cass Tech jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell connected with senior wide receiver Jourdan Lewis on a pass play that went 89 yards for the Technicians’ first touchdown of the contest. Then the Cass Tech defense got its turn to shine when defensive lineman Kenton Gibbs had a lineman’s dream come true on CC’s fifth offensive play of their drive. The Shamrocks fumbled on their fifth possession and Gibbs scooped it up and rambled 58 yards to pay dirt.

After Catholic Central made it 12-7 in the second quarter on an 18-yard run, Ken Snapp booted a 31-yard field goal with 45 seconds left in the half to give the Technicians a 15-7 halftime lead.

Cass Tech started the second half like they did the first by scoring first. Junior running back Deon Drake’s 30-yard run made it 22-7 in favor of the Technicians. Then Campbell made it 29-7 scoring on a 10-yard run in the third. CC tried to make a game of it, scoring twice in the fourth quarter, but defensive back Damon Webb caught an interception and returned for a touchdown.

Sophomore running back Mike Weber had 186 yards on 20 carries. Campbell had 154 yards passing and no interceptions.

While one Detroit squad basked in victory, another came up short. Loyola (13-1), trying for the perfect season, made its first appearance in the Division 7 Championship in the school’s history as the Bulldogs took on Ishpeming Nov. 24. Despite 129 yards in 21 carries and two touchdowns from Keyonne Gabriel, the Bulldogs came up short, 20-14.

Trailing 6-0, Gabriel raced 28 yards for Loyola’s first touchdown after catching a pass from quarterback Toby Sharpe. Gabriel also made the two-point conversion to pull the Bulldogs ahead 8-6. In the third quarter Loyola trailed 12-8 when Gabriel raced 20 yards to pay dirt to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-12. However, Ishpeming came from behind, scoring on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter.

“We had our chances to win the game,” said Loyola head coach John Callahan. “Despite the loss I’m really proud of my kids because I think their contribution to hard work got us here.

“Our school schedule is different than most schools. We have study hall after school and weight training before practice, which starts at 5 pm. With all that we still managed to win the (Catholic High School League) C-D championship and get to the state finals. This year was a learning experience because we graduated 12 seniors last year and only had five this year out of 30 players. The rest were freshman and sophomores.

“The future looks bright for our team because we have a good nucleus of players coming back. They know what to expect next year.”

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