Detroit King fires back after being forced to forfeit

David Goricki and Rod Beard
The Detroit News
King and Cass Tech met earlier this season, on Sept. 26. King was the winner.

Instead of a playing for the Public School League championship game at Ford Field on Friday, Detroit King, ranked No. 1 in the state, will be sidelined.

King (8-0), was involved in an on-field, postgame brawl in last week’s semifinal game against Cody at DCP-Northwestern and the result was forfeiting the title game. Cass Tech, which was scheduled to face King for the championship, was declared the winner by forfeit, the PSL announced.

“The Detroit Public School League Division 1 football championship game ... has been deemed a Cass Tech 6-0 forfeit victory against King in the aftermath of King’s involvement in an on-field brawl last Friday (Oct. 16) following its 20-2 PSL D1 semifinal victory against Cody,” the PSL said in a press release.

King beat Cass, 31-28, in overtime in a Week 5 matchup, but there won't be rematch, as both teams will play in different divisions in the state playoffs, which begin next week.

Cody (2-6) also has been suspended for the remainder of the season and the coaching staff has been placed on indefinite suspension, according to the PSL.

While the PSL had scheduled two championship games for Friday, the other game, the Division 2 title game featuring Northwestern and Central, still will be played at Ford Field at 6 p.m.

King coach Dale Harvel felt he did everything he could to prevent the postgame scuffle.

In an interview with The Detroit News on Sunday, Harvel said both coaches were brought out to talk with officials about “chippy play” late in the game. He said there had been similar problems with “chippy play” late in the game of the first meeting between the teams in Week No. 6, a 34-0 King win.

King coach Dale Harvel termed NCAA's initial ban of satellite camps a knee-jerk reaction.

Harvel, being proactive, told the officials he would keep his players on the sideline following the game to prevent further trouble, sending his coaches on the field to shake hands. He also told his plans to athletic director Barry Cannon and Alvin Ward, executive director of athletics for the PSL.

Harvel was shocked Monday when word came from the PSL that King would forfeit the league title game.

“I don’t know what else we could have done to prevent things from happening other than run straight to the bus after the game,” Harvel told The Detroit News on Monday. “We were doing everything we could to make sure all kids were safe. He (Ward) said Cody was the instigator and still we’re the ones given the death penalty. Cody’s 2-6 and they have nothing to lose. We’re getting pushed and punched. What, we’re not supposed to protect ourselves?”

Said Cannon: “Dale told me exactly what he was going to do after the game and I supported him, actually went to the officials on our sidelines and told them and they agreed. Our kids did everything they were instructed to do, kneeling on the sidelines after the game in postgame prayer. I’m extremely upset. I'm a 50-year-old man and I'm not going to just let myself be pushed around if I was shoved and punched at, either.

"These kids have worked tirelessly, did everything they were supposed to do to get to the pinnacle of PSL football, the title game, and now they’re not allowed to play in it."

Cannon said King planned to appeal, but Ward told The Detroit News he would not hear one.

"There is nothing to appeal in this case," Ward said. “I rendered the decision based on what we saw happen. King is suspended and it’s going to be a forfeit win to Cass."

Ward was asked what he saw.

“I’m not telling you what I saw," Ward said. "I’m telling you that what happened caused me to make the decision that I did.”

Ward was asked if King was the aggressor. “I never said that,” Ward said.

Ward was asked if Harvel informed him of his plans to keep his players on the sideline. “I have no comment about that,” Ward said.

Ward was asked what could have King done to prevent the fight. “I’m holding all adults responsible for what happened,” Ward said. "Those who are in control should be in control of those kids from start to finish.”

Detroit Cody coach Calvin Norman

Cody coach Calvin Norman said he wasn't aware of Harvel's plan to keep King's players on the sideline, where the altercation occurred.

"We came across the field in good spirits, not with anger, to shake hands," Norman said. "We were met by their coaches to hold up, but then received an OK to go over, so we did. Our players were shaking hands, giving hugs for the first minute and a half, then a couple of players, one of ours and one from King, got into it and things escalated. Both teams clearly were at fault as far as the fight was concerned."

Norman said he called Harvel and apologized for the incident.

"I never meant for it to happen," Norman said. "If I knew (Harvel's plan) I would have dealt with that information accordingly and that would have never happened.

Norman said he expected to be contacted by Ward about the incident but that never happened.

"I would have said to him, 'Maybe you should rethink this,'" Norman said. "I mean, it wasn't everybody, just a handful of players, so we're talking a lot of innocent bystanders hurt by all of this."

Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher called the situation "very unfortunate."

"It's amazing, very unfortunate, stressful, since a lot of kids were looking forward to playing at Ford Field, real excited for the opportunity," Wilcher said. "They've worked hard all year to take that walk onto Ford Field and play for the city championship and it's snatched away from them."

Cass Tech players feel they are being punished as much as King's.

“I’m mortified,” said Cass Tech junior quarterback Rodney Hall. “I feel like we’re cheated the opportunity for a payback. This game was going to be huge, for the city championship, at Ford Field. 
"We’re getting cheated in so many different ways. We can’t brush up on our game for the playoffs. We have players who are working hard to get scholarships, make all-state, and one less game could make a difference for us.”

Cass Tech defensive back Demetric Vance, a Michigan State commit, responded to news of the forfeit on Twitter, writing: "I want to win on the field bro."

Cass Tech guard Alvin Clemons, who is headed to Indiana State, wrote, "This ain't fair to the city. ... Both teams worked too hard for this."

"Bro this some real bs dawg!” wrote King running back Martell Pettaway. "Bro they did us dirty."