Allen Park — For the sixth time since 2011, Detroit King football is headed to the state semifinals.
King (10-2) stomped Allen Park (9-3), 54-15, in the Division 3, Region 4 final on a chilly Friday night.
"I was really pleased with all three phases of the game," King coach Tyrone Spencer said. "I don't think we played perfect, but at the end of the day I'm proud of what we were able to do."
King senior quarterback DeQuan Finn, confident at the controls of King's spread attack, played a dynamic game, going 9-for-10 throwing for 204 yards with 127 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.
"It feels good knowing we're going to the semifinals for the third consecutive year," Finn said. "We're just taking it one game at a time."
Among the beneficiaries of Finn's arm were senior wide receivers Dominick Polidore-Hannah, who had three catches for 47 yards, and Ahmad Gardner, who collected four passes for 126 yards, including scores of 37 and 75 yards.
"I was watching the coverage," Gardner said. "I knew exactly how deep to run my routes, and my quarterback DeQuan found me. We were all playing as one."
"I feel like he's a good, reliable tool," Finn said about Gardner. "He's another playmaker and asset to the team. We just need to use him."
King's defense flew around the field, with senior safety Marvin Grant inflicting serious damage on Allen Park's offense. Grant is committed to Purdue and considered King's top player in the 2019 recruiting class.
King, enjoying its 10th-straight playoff appearance, was the faster, more physical team, and it showed. When King skill players had the ball, they simply ran away from Allen Park tacklers, and when that didn't work, they ran through them. A running clock was instituted mid-third quarter. King outgained Allen Park 389 yards to 131.
Junior Rashawn Williams didn't make the trip to Allen Park for King. Spencer said the wide receiver, being recruited by Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, was dealing with some "personal stuff" and would probably play next week.
Junior quarterback Mateo Balderas went 7-for-12 passing for 54 yards, adding 14 yards and both Allen Park touchdowns on the ground.
Senior running back Jakob Marsee ran into a brick wall in King's defensive line. Marsee carried the ball 18 times but could only manage 21 yards.
Allen Park junior running back Nico Tiberia didn't play after suffering a leg injury on Tuesday in practice. Tiberia ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns in Allen Park's district win.
Allen Park started the game on a high note, jumping on a King fumble after a sloppy handoff exchange, but on the first snap of King's second possession, senior quarterback Finn took a snap from shotgun and sailed through the Allen Park defense untouched for 76 yards to open the scoring.
"It gave us a lot of confidence to score first," Finn said. "It was huge, raised the tempo. It gave our team a lot of energy."
After an Allen Park three-and-out, Finn hit Polidore-Hannah on a screen pass. Polidore-Hannah shed several tacklers on his way to a 35-yard gain, finally wrestled down at Allen Park's 7-yard line. Junior running back Peny Boone scored on a run to the right on the next play to make it 14-0 for King.
Finn scored on a 1-yard run on the second play of the second quarter, putting King up, 21-0, and at this point, the rout was firmly on. Moments later, Finn found a covered Gardner, who fought off defensive holding and went up to haul down a 37-yard touchdown pass to put King up, 28-0.
Allen Park mounted a drive on its next possession, capped by a 1-yard Balderas quarterback sneak to make it 28-7. King answered on a 44-yard Finn run up the middle. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving King firmly in charge, 34-7.
A Polidare-Hannah punt return gave King another chance to score in the first half, and Finn converted with another 1-yard plunge. King couldn't convert the two-point attempt, and the first half ended 40-7 for King.
To start the scoring in the third quarter, Finn hit Gardner 10 yards downfield, and Gardner did the rest, running away from Allen Park's secondary for a 75-yard touchdown, making it 47-7 for King and starting a running clock.
Allen Park would score on a 4-yard Balderas run in the fourth quarter, and a subsequent two-point conversion made the score 47-15 for King, but King would answer on a drive capped by a 4-yard Lorenzo White score to make it 54-15.
DeWitt (11-0) and Farmington (8-3) play at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Region 3 final, and King will face the winner on Nov. 17, site to be determined.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer