Detroit King football coaching legend Harvel dies

Al Willman
The Detroit News
Detroit King head coach Dale Harvel is pictured prior to the start of the PSL championship game at Ford Field last season.

Longtime Detroit Martin Luther King football coach Dale Harvel died Friday night from an apparent heart attack, the Detroit Public School League’s executive director confirmed. He was 57.

Harvel, set to begin his 31st season with the Crusaders, was overseeing a 7-on-7 event at the school and collapsed, said Alvin Ward Sr., executive director of athletics for the PSL. He was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he was declared dead.

“We think he died of a heart attack,” Ward said shortly after midnight, indicating he had just left the family at the hospital.

“He is leaving a legacy. He has touched a lot of lives, sent a lot of kids to college and sent some of them to the pros."

Harvel’s King squad was 14-0 last season, winning the Division 2 state championship. He won multiple PSL championships.

Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio heralded Harvel’s career on Twitter.

“So sorry to hear that Coach Harvel from Detroit ML King passed away this evening while at football practice,” Dantonio tweeted. “Mentor, Coach, and friend.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh wrote on Twitter: "Prayers to the Harvel family on the passing of Coach Dale Harvel who influenced so many lives & will be missed by Family, Friends & Football."

Legacy of King's Dale Harvel is helping others

Harvel’s impact went beyond the playing field, Ward said.

“He was just a good person,” the PSL executive director said. “He is definitely going to be missed.”

In one of his last major moves as a coach, Harvel early in the 2015 season suspended his No. 1 quarterback for breaking team rules and turned wide receiver Armani Posey into his new quarterback. Posey ended up setting a state record with 383 passing yards in a 40-38 comeback win over Lowell for the Division 2 state championship.

Rising King senior defensive back / receiver Ambry Thomas is one of the top players in the state. “It's crazy to just think how we was just on the phone last night talking (and) now he’s gone,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “Rest up coach.”

Former King receiver Donnie Corley, the Detroit News No. 1 Blue Chip player last season, also offered his condolences on Twitter.

“RIP to one of the best high school coaches out there,” said Corley, now a freshman at Michigan State. “We gonna keep balling for you.”

King and Detroit Cass Tech have been the top teams in the PSL in recent seasons and their coaches, Harvel and Cass Tech's Thomas Wilcher, had great respect for one another.

"So many will tell your story, so we will live through your dreams forever and continue to let you be the legend that you are still to so many young men, and the old," Wilcher wrote on Facebook.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Al Willman is a freelance writer.

Twitter: @AlWillmanSports

Detroit King head coach Dale Harvel shows a big smile after his team won the Division 2 championship game over Lowell at Ford Field on Nov. 27, 2015.