Here are five things to watch for when No. 2 Cass Tech takes on No. 1 Detroit King on Saturday.
Hall has developed into a dual-threat QB
Cass Tech junior Rodney Hall has become a standout dual-threat quarterback and he needed to add the running game to his arsenal following the graduation of 2,000-yard-plus rusher Mike Weber, who is now at Ohio State.
Hall has been at his best the last two weeks in wins over Mumford (42-9) and Renaissance (62-19), combining to throw for 630 yards, rushing for 197 and accounting for 11 touchdowns.
“I’ve gotten bigger and stronger than a year ago,” the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hall said. “We run an offense similar to Ohio State’s where the option read is part of the repertoire. Michigan State Coach (Curtis) Blackwell told me before the season that I was the No. 1 quarterback in the state for my class. I want to be the best quarterback in the country.”
Hall will have to show his ability on the biggest stage against King, who he threw for two touchdowns against last year in a 39-7 PSL title rout at Ford Field. He definitely will have a challenge on his hands running against a linebacker core led by transfer Lawrence Bryant (Grosse Pointe North).
Pettaway in spotlight
King was one-dimensional last season with the lack of a running game.
Things have changed this season with the addition of transfer Martell Pettaway, a West Virginia commit with 4.5 speed. He has rushed for 466 yards and seven touchdowns to take some pressure off a first-year starting quarterback, sophomore El Julian Jordan.
“My goals are to run for more than 1,500 yards and win the city and state championships,” Pettaway said prior to the season. “I want to leave a legacy with the Pettaway name on the field.”
Pettaway decided to transfer to King from St. Clair Shores South Lake so he could graduate at King, the school where his older brother Devinne attended and was a member of the Crusaders’ 2007 state championship team before tragically passing away that spring after collapsing in the school’s gym.
Can Johnson shut down Corley again?
Cass Tech junior cornerback Donovan Johnson proved to be a shut-down corner in last year’s PSL title game.
Johnson gave very little room for King receiver Donnie Corley to operate, which was a big factor in the one-sided victory.
Corley (15 receptions, 249 yards, four touchdowns) has more help at the receiver position this season, including junior Ambry Thomas and transfers Armani Posey and LaVert Hill, but Cass Tech has an outstanding secondary, led by MSU-bound Demetric Vance, Donnell Alexander (three interceptions), Jaylen Kelly-Powell and DeAndre Square (two interceptions) combining for eight interceptions.
Cass Tech junior Donovan Peoples-Jones is the top junior in the state and was the premier athlete in The Opening Camp this past summer.
Peoples-Jones, a 6-1, 190-pound four-star recruit with 4.4 speed, grabbed passes and turned them into touchdowns of 18 and 82 yards the last time the teams met in the PSL title game. He has displayed his talent the last two weeks with a pair of touchdown receptions against Mumford and a 39-yard punt return for a touchdown against Renaissance.
“We know all about the big-play ability of Peoples-Jones,” King coach Dale Harvel said. “They will try to give him three or four shots a quarter and we’ll pay close attention to him.”
Expect Donnie Corley — arguably the state’s top player — to defend him. Corley has four interceptions.
How will Jordan respond in series debut
King sophomore El Julian Jordan will be making his grand entrance into this rivalry.
Jordan, a strong-armed 6-1, 210-pound quarterback, is already getting attention from Michigan and other schools. He threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ambry Thomas to start a 12-10 comeback win over defending Division 2 state champion Warren De La Salle in the season opener.
Jordan was benched last week in favor of Armani Posey for disciplinary reasons, but is expected to return.
Harvel was pleased with Posey’s 6-for-9 showing (176 yards, two touchdowns) in a 41-0 win over Denby, pointing out it was the first time this season the quarterback position didn’t have a turnover.
Also, expect junior Martinez Adams Calloway to play in running situations. He scored the winning touchdown, a 14-yard run, against DeLaSalle.