Editor's note: The Detroit News dropped in on six teams Monday, the first day of high school football practice, including Detroit Cass Tech.
Detroit — A 9-3 record would mark a good season for most high schools.
That would include a couple wins in the state playoffs and a district title.
But it was a down year for Detroit Cass Tech in 2017 — its worst win total in the past eight seasons. The Technicians have redefined success as one of the state’s elite teams, with three Division 1 state titles since 2011, including a perfect 14-0 season in 2016.
A new season brings new goals — and Cass Tech is poised to have a championship renaissance.
“We’re trying to get moving and on the same page,” head coach Thomas Wilcher said. “We’re trying to be more team-oriented and focus on becoming a unit.”
Cass Tech still has a solid core, with running backs Lewis Nichols and Jaren Mangham, and quarterback Jalen Graham.
They’ve reloading the talent base, but the focus still is on maintaining the level of excellence they’re had over the past decade.
Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher talking with QB Jalen Graham Robin Buckson, The Detroit News, The Detroit News
“The guys on the team know what it takes because we’ve been there before,” senior cornerback Xavier Goldsmith said. “We have to go out and work hard and trust what Coach Wilcher is doing for us.”
What hurt more last season was losing to Detroit King, as one of the state’s best rivalries continues to swing back and forth like a pendulum. Beating King used to be the barometer of the Technicians’ season — now, it’s just a marker, along with their success in the state playoffs.
Devin Nicholson works out before Cass Tech's season Robin Buckson, The Detroit News, The Detroit News
“Every year, our goal is the state championship. We want to be the best group ever at Cass Tech and be the group that everybody remembers,” senior receiver Kyron McKinnie-Harper said. “The standard is raised higher because we’ve had players who were All-America who set the bar higher. We have to raise the expectations.”
Cass Tech opens the season on Aug. 24 against River Rouge in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.