King vs. Cass Tech PSL title game will be played
Detroit — The Detroit PSL title game between King and Cass Tech will be played, after all.
DPS emergency manager Darnell Earley on Tuesday overturned a decision by PSL executive director of athletics Alvin Ward to cancel the game and award the championship to Cass Tech.
So King (8-0), ranked No. 1 in the state by The Detroit News, and No. 4 Cass Tech (7-1) will play for the title on Friday at Ford Field at 7 p.m., as originally scheduled.
Ward on Monday had declared that King would be forced to forfeit the game following its involvement in a brawl with Cody players after King's win over Cody in a PSL semifinal game last week.
In announcing his decision, Earley said:
"I ... strongly believe that there must be some accountability and repercussions felt by those involved for their actions. We are identifying the aggressors from both teams who initiated the fight that took place. ... The King players will be suspended from play in Friday’s championship game, and Cody players will be prohibited from playing in the first game of the 2016-17 school year."
Earley said both the King and Cody programs would be placed on probation for one year, and that both schools would not be permitted to play preseason scrimmages next season.
Earley also said that all players from both the King and Cody teams would be required to perform a "substantial amount" of community service, and that Cody's coaches would remain suspended indefinitely.
Dozens of King parents and supporters gathered outside DPS administration offices at the Fisher Building on Monday to protest the decision.
King coach Dale Harvel and Cody coach Calvin Norman both told The Detroit News on Monday that Harvel took steps to avoid confrontations between players after the game.
"A key factor in my decision was the fact that the King coaches took full responsibility for the actions of their players and will be rededicating themselves to ensuring that their players understand the important role good sportsmanship ...," Earley said. "I commend the King football coaches for stepping up and serving as role models for their players."
There would have been large financial implications of canceling the game. The rental fee for Ford Field is in the tens of thousands of dollars, and although there were two championship games scheduled, the King-Cass Tech rematch was one of the most anticipated games in the state this season.
The PSL Division 2 title game between Northwestern and Central at Ford Field on Saturday will revert to its original start time of 4 p.m.
In their first meeting this season, King beat Cass Tech, also ranked among the top teams in the state, 31-28, in overtime.
The rematch at Ford Field is expected to attract a litany of college coaches and recruiters, as the two teams have several potential Division I prospects.
Cass Tech quarterback Rodney Hall was at least one player who was happy to see the game back on the schedule, tweeting: "I don't got nothing but love for the city... After this game lets both go win states!"