David Goricki's Week 9 prep picks: Detroit King-Detroit Cass Tech headlines championship week
It’s showdown week in prep football, with a number of league-championship games. And none are bigger than the PSL title game between No. 1 Detroit Cass Tech and No. 4 Detroit King on Friday night at Detroit Renaissance.
The Cass Tech-King rivalry has been one of the best in the state, with King winning last year’s game between the teams, 17-7, then going on to defeat Detroit East English in the PSL championship game. Cass Tech swept the season series in 2016 while winning the Division 1 state championship, a year after King won the season’s series and won the Division 2 state title.
Cass Tech is 8-0, outscoring its opponents by a 330-34 margin, including a 40-7 rout over a strong River Rouge team to open the season. Cass Tech defeated Detroit Renaissance, 40-0, in a PSL semifinal last weekend.
King is 7-1 with its lone loss coming in Week 2 at No. 3 Muskegon, 24-21. King has outscored its opponents, 336-101, including a 57-0 PSL semifinal rout of Detroit Western.
By far, Cass Tech’s defense will be facing its biggest test in trying to slow down Central Michigan-bound quarterback Dequan Finn who has rushed for 800 yards and thrown for 1,400 yards and either throwing or running for 30 TDs.
Finn has multiple weapons to work with in four-star junior receiver Rashawn Williams — with Division I offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, LSU — Northern Illinois-bound Jalen McGaughy, Central Michigan-bound Darrell Wyatt and Dominick Polidore-Hannah.
“It’s always fun to play your rival, what I consider the best rivalry in the state,” King third-year head coach Tyrone Spence saidr. “The focus and intention to detail that the kids have to have has been different all week.
"They come to me with things, showing their locked in and focused.”
Spencer likes how his team is playing heading into the PSL final.
“We can definitely move the ball and score points and I like the way our defense is shaping up,” he said. “We’ve got Marvin Grant back, he was injured, and our defense is a lot different when he’s in there. We’ve also been running the ball well."
Grant, a Purdue commit, is playing linebacker for King. He missed the last three games with a quad injury.
King’s defense will be challenged by a Cass Tech offense led by quarterback/safety Jalen Graham, who has 22 college offers, and running backs Lew Nichols (Central Michigan) and Jaren Mangham (Colorado).
“They have a quarterback in Jalen Graham who is a phenomenal athlete so he’s dangerous," Spencer said. "They have a two-headed running back, two of the best in the state and then you have a receiver in Kyron McKinnie-Harper (CMU) so we’re going to have our hands full, just hope we can score more points than them.”
Pick: King by 2
No. 10 Brighton (8-1) at No. 5 Belleville (9-0), 7 Friday
It’s No. 10 Brighton vs. No. 5 Belleville in the KLAA championship, a rematch of the season opener won by Belleville, 40-35.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid threw for 336 yards and four TDs, including a TD pass to Jalen Williams with 15 seconds left for the difference in the win over Brighton. Brighton senior quarterback Will Jontz rushed 182 yards and four TDs.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said. “We know each other pretty well. For us, it’s dealing with their quarterback (Jontz) and they do some things to slow us down offensively. They have a good staff and watching them on tape they are getting better and better.
“Christian’s playing well, having a good year, has 30-plus touchdowns, thrown for close to two thousand yards. And, Brighton does a good job with their quarterback. They do things to amplify his skill set. They’re a big power read team so they’ll stretch you wide to get the big athlete running down the middle of the field.”
Pick: Belleville by 4.
No. 17 Detroit Catholic Central (6-2) vs. No. 18 Warren De La Salle (6-2), 7 Saturday
This is the rematch from a week ago, when Catholic Central’s defense limited De La Salle to 196 total yards while sacking Nolan Schultz five times in a 10-7 win.
Marco Genrich, who missed three games with a hand injury earlier in the season, threw for 107 yards and a TD and rushed for 81 yards and a TD for Catholic Central.
De La Salle defeated Catholic Central in last year’s Prep Bowl 35-14, then went on to win the Division 2 state title. Look for De La Salle to make adjustments and repeat with a win in the rematch.
This game is at Ford Field.
Pick: De La Salle by 6
No. 7 Oak Park (7-1) at No. 9 Clarkston (7-1), 7 Friday
This is the closest thing to an OAA championship game with White Division champion Oak Park playing Clarkston, the Red Division champ and defending Division 1 state champion.
Look for Oak Park to rebound from last week’s loss to West Bloomfield with running back Phillip Stewart having a big game.
Pick: Oak Park by 2
Romeo (5-3) at No. 11 Grosse Pointe South (8-0), 7 Friday
Romeo needs a win to assure itself a spot in the state playoffs while Grosse Pointe South is in search of its first unbeaten regular season since 1983.
Romeo has played well all season, losing its three games by a combined 17 points — 24-21 to Oxford in the season opener, then 37-30 in overtime to Macomb Dakota and 41-34 to MAC Red champion Chippewa Valley the last two weeks.
Pick: South by 1 (OT)