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Category: Sports Published on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 09:40 Written by Leland Stein, III
Photo: KING HIGH PSL champions. – Andre Smith photo
It may have been a dark and rainy evening in Downtown Detroit; however, the insulation of Ford Field allowed two of the Detroit Public School League’s (PSL) most acknowledged football programs – East English Village Prep (a merger of Crockett and Finney High Schools) and Martin Luther King High to unabatedly unleash all its football athleticism.
The result of Ford Field’s indoor environment produced one of the most exciting and wildest PSL championship games I have even seen.
I did not even play in the game, but when the Ford Field clock finally reached zero I was tired. In the end King held on to earn a 58-48 victory over East English.
After an incredible first quarter that saw East English take a commanding 20-0 lead, then I stood incredulous as King reeled off 32 consecutive points to take an eye popping 32-20 halftime lead into the locker room.
Following King’s tremendous comeback, coach Dale Harvel told me on his way to the locker room: “East English came out like a ball of fire and kicked us in the mouth. But, like we have done all season our guys did not get down, they just put their foot on the peddle. The fact of the matter is this game is not over and whoever has the ball last will probably win this game.”
Coach Harvel’s foreshadow was right on point as both team came back and fought and pushed and cajoled and fought in a second half of high school football that will be remembered for a long time.
The fact of the matter, this was a desperation game for King (6-3) as they came into the game with only five win, one short of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s (MHSAA) requirement of six win for playoff inclusion.
“I feel so good about winning this game,” King senior quarterback Davaun Williams said. “I feel awesome for all the seniors, because this was do-or-die for us. If we lost this game our season was over. We have never gotten over the sting of them beating us in the City title game last year. It does not get much better than this.”
Said Harvel after the trophy presentation: “I have never coached in a game like this. I guess this is high school football at its best. That was a good football team we beat today. Both of these teams really wanted this game, I just think we had the ball last.
The second half was a mirror image of the first half. King came out and scored on its first possession of the second half to take what looked to me to be an insurmountable 39-20 lead.
But of course that was not enough as East English Bulldogs came roaring back and got the score at the end of the third quarter to 45-40 and going into the fourth and final quarter it was anybody’s game.
“I’m proud of how my guys did not quit,” East English coach Rod Oden said. “We started out with a bang, but that King team really showed me they have heart. Still we had our chances to win this game, we just ran out of time.”
King and East English, who have all the same coaches and many of the same players from when they were Crockett High, have started a enduring rivalry.
Coach Oden led Crockett to it second PSL title beating King in last year’s PSL title game 21-19. Oden and Crockett hoisted its first PSL title in 2004 when it beat King High.
This game had everything, interceptions, kickoff run backs, sacks, great runs from scrimmage and efficient passing attacks.
East English (7-2) tailback Desmond King injured his shoulder in the second quarter but came back to gain 146 yards on eight carries in the third quarter alone as the Bulldogs cut the lead to 45-40. He finished with 223 yards on 21 carries. “I knew my team needed me so I got it together and got back out there,” King said. “When I went out we had a 20-0 lead. I could see my team needed me.”
Crusaders junior running back Raymond Mitchell took charge in the second half and senior linebacker Sa’Von Thomas finally closed the door with a game ending interception.
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