Detroit — If Detroit Cass Tech is to win a third consecutive state championship, its defense must play like it did Friday in the Detroit Public School League championship.
Damon Webb’s interception and two late sacks carried Cass Tech to a 20-14 victory over defending PSL champion Detroit King before approximately 4,500 at Ford Field.
Cass Tech, 9-0 and ranked No. 1 all season, awaits Sunday’s announcement of its first-round Division 1 playoff opponent along with King (7-1). Cass Tech linebacker Will White said he and his team are ready and better than they were a year ago.
“It was our defense all the way,” White said. “We just work as a team. We have a lot of Division I players and, though I’m underrated, I’m the best linebacker in the state. We wore them down. After awhile they didn’t want to hit anymore.
“We’re ready for the playoffs. This time we’re going to go undefeated and win it. We just have to keep our heads straight. I feel our defense is better.”
Cass Tech has won 15 straight since losing to King, 44-13, in last year’s PSL semifinals.
“After last year, I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” White said.
On Friday, King trailed 20-14 and had a chance to take the lead after it recovered a fumble on the Cass Tech 28-yard line with 9:02 left. After a holding penalty, King faced a third-and-32 when Webb intercepted with 7:44 to play.
Cass Tech gained two first downs and turned it over on downs at King’s 21-yard line with 2:18 left. White and his teammates put a stop to any further scoring as he and fellow linebacker Jamaal Brown recorded sacks to end the game.
“We were worn down,” King coach Dale Harvel said. “Most of our linemen go both ways. I’m very impressed with their defense, but I thought our defense played well, too.”
All of the first-half scoring took place in the final 5:20. Mike Weber (21 carries, 98 yards) gave Cass Tech a 7-0 lead as he ran 38 yards for a touchdown through the middle of King’s defense. On Cass Tech’s next possession, quarterback Jayru Campbell threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones and Cass Tech led 14-0.
On the next play, King quarterback James Speight (9-for-22, 193 yards) threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Avonte Maddox to cut Cass Tech’s lead to 14-6 at halftime.
Maddox had a terrific first half as he had six receptions for 126 yards, but he did not have a reception in the second half.
Christopher McDaniel scored what turned out to be the winner on a 17-yard pass from Campbell (7-for-18, 152 yards) with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
On the next play, Speight’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Omari McCauley brought King to within a touchdown.
“In the second half we got a hold of (Maddox),” Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. “Our defensive line stepped up a lot with the pass rush.”