Detroit King turns back East English to reach semifinals

Al Willman
Special to The Detroit News
Detroit King running back Martell Pettaway runs for yardage as he is chased by Detroit East English Village's Orniska Webster in the first quarter.

Detroit -- Detroit King coach Dale Harvel, despite his team’s 26-12 Division 2 regional final win over Detroit East English Saturday afternoon, said the Crusaders are in survival mode.

King -- ranked No. 1 in the state by The Detroit News -- will take on Livonia Franklin in the Division 2 semifinals next Saturday at 1 p.m. at a site to be determined.

“Our philosophy is this: You win games during the regular season,” Harvel said. “In the playoffs, you survive games. You survive calls, you survive the weather, you survive good teams. In survival mode, you’re always doing your utmost to stay above water. That’s what the kids did.”

Armani Posey was 6-of-14 for 70 yards and a touchdown for King (12-0). He also rushed 10 times for 70 yards.

“It feels good to be in the state semifinals with my guys,” Posey said. “Our backs were against the wall. We’re out here now.”

Martell Pettaway rushed 14 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Delvin Washington was 4-of-17 for 39 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for East English (9-3).

Nathaniel Boleware rushed 22 times for 67 yards.

James Caesar had five carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.

Both teams had trouble moving the ball in a scoreless first quarter.

“I knew it was going to be a defensive game,” Harvel said. “It was a challenge all day to get things done offensively.”

King got on the board with 10:20 to go in the second quarter. Washington was intercepted by Lavert Hill, who returned the ball five yards for the score. Anwar Miah made the extra point, giving his team a 7-0 lead.

That score would hold for the rest of the half.

Late in the third quarter, King appeared to score another touchdown, on a 30-yard punt return from Dontre Boyd. It was called back on a personal foul penalty. King scored on the ensuing drive with a 18-yard touchdown pass from Posey to Donnie Corley. Miah missed the extra point, and with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter, King had a 13-0 lead.

“We just set the plays up,” Corley said. “We just had to focus in.”

Pettaway added to the King lead with a 39-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. King missed the two-point conversion attempt, and had a 19-0 lead with 9:22 remaining.

East English scored its first points with 8:25 to go in the fourth. Washington found Lindrell Mitchell from 17 yards out. King blocked the extra-point attempt, and had a 19-6 lead.

Posey helped his own cause late in the fourth quarter with a 35-yard interception return for touchdown.

“It felt good,” Posey said. “I could have had two of them earlier in the game. That one was just a tip and a touchdown.”

Caesar, in at quarterback for Washington, who was injured during the interception return, scored on the 4-yard keeper to chip away at the King lead. The two-point conversion attempt was no good. With 28 seconds left, King was ahead 26-12.

Harvel said his team is pressing forward, in an undefeated season that has nevertheless been less than entirely smooth.

“It has been a season of just picking yourself up off the ground,” Harvel said. “All the way through playing a tough (Warren) De La Salle team the first game of the season to the Cass Tech game (at the end of September) to the Cody disruption (fight at end of game). If you look at the two top teams in the league (Cass Tech and East English), we had to beat them twice.

“These kids got up off the ground and they kept playing. I’m proud of them.”

Al Willman is a freelance writer.