Posey given keys to King offense, drives to state title

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Detroit King quarterback Armani Posey takes the keeper and picks up a long first down before being brought down by Lowell's Alex Anschutz in the third quarter.

Detroit — Armani Posey was playing receiver when the season started for Detroit King back in August.

Oh, and Posey played some linebacker and safety on the defensive side of the ball, too.

Well, King coach Dale Harvel handed Posey the keys to the offense after handing the No. 1 quarterback a two-game suspension for breaking team rules early in the season. Posey ran with the opportunity that came in Week No. 4 — and threw with it, too — all the way to the Division 2 state championship.

Ford Field was Posey’s personal stage his senior season at King, first throwing for 208 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-25 Public School League championship game win over Detroit Cass Tech last month, then setting a state title record with his 383 passing yards in a thrilling 40-38 comeback win over Lowell on Friday afternoon.

When asked if he had ever played quarterback before this season, Posey, who transferred to King this season from Detroit East English, replied: “Yes, I played quarterback in Little League so it was like my second home. It’s my first home actually.”

Posey felt at home playing quarterback, and he also felt at home playing at Ford Field. He led King from a 31-13 second-half deficit with the help of quick, athletic playmakers in Donnie Corley, LaVert Hill, Ambry Thomas and Dontre Boyd.

First, Posey found Corley for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 3:41 left in the third quarter, then connected with Thomas on a 41-yard scoring toss with 11:44 left in the game, and found Hill for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:42 remaining before what could only be described as nothing short of an incredible final drive.

Posey led the Crusaders 97 yards in 37 seconds for the winning drive, capped off with a 40-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone to Corley on the game’s final play.

“I knew that I put the ball in the right area,” Posey said of his toss to Corley. “We work on it at practice all day, every day and it’s just the chemistry and bond with the team. He just went up there and made a good play.”

Posey’s toss to Corley matched a state record for touchdown passes with five. He completed 19 of 27 passes, finding his quick, athletic receivers in space and letting them do their job. He found Hill for 22 yards to start the winning drive, then Corley for 10, followed by a key 25-yarder to Boyd to the 40 with 10 seconds left, setting up the Hail Mary to Corley.

Romeo’s Bradley Tanner rushed for 130 yards and three TDs in a 41-27 win over Cass Tech in the Division 1 state championship game.

Corley had high praise for Posey, who has thrown for 2,566 yards and 25 touchdowns in 10 games at quarterback.

“It’s just the fact he don’t care where Coach wants to put him,” Corley pointed out. “At first he’s playing receiver, playing safety and stuff like that. Then they wanted him at quarterback. They wanted him to do different stuff and he never complained. He knows how to scan the field and see mismatches. He’s amazing.”

So while Corley, a four-star recruit and The News’ preseason No. 1 player in the state, announces his college pick from more than 30 offers, including Ohio State, Michigan State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan, on Dec. 8, Posey has just one Division I offer, from Kent State, along with offers from Saginaw Valley and Northwood.

“It’s a shame that a lot of these schools talk about the character of kids and how they want good character kids and good athletes, that combination, and he’s that type of individual, and he has one (Division 1) offer on the table so somebody’s telling a lie,” Harvel said. “Everything is predicated on shorts and t-shirts in the summer and it shouldn’t be like that, but that’s what we’re down to.

“And, actually playing the football game is not to me that important anymore to college scouts because they’ve already made their evaluations in two years prior to this in those shorts and t-shirts. It’s a shame because Posey’s a leader, not a follower, and those are the kids you want.”

Posey at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds feels he will play safety in college. It’s just a matter of where.

Romeo’s Tanner proves point

Romeo standout Brad Tanner felt disrespected heading into the Division 1 state championship game Saturday afternoon at Ford Field and took it out on Cass Tech in leading the Bulldogs to a 41-27 win.

Tanner, 6-2 and 185 pounds, ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns on the jet sweep and was special on the defensive side of the ball, shadowing four-star junior receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who many consider is the best athlete in the country.

Tanner prevented Peoples-Jones from making the big play for the majority of the game. He had four tackles and two pass break-ups, knocking the ball away from Peoples-Jones on a pass from Aaron Jackson in the end zone in the third quarter.

“I had probably two chips on my shoulders really,” Tanner said. “(Division I) colleges not coming after me and offering me a scholarship and before this game I saw the (Associated Press) all-state selections and that really just ticked me off, so that just made me go that much harder.

“I knew I had to prove myself and hopefully I get some D-1 exposure and hopefully those all-state voters know they messed up.”

Tanner played like a Dream Team player on the biggest stage, and he enjoyed going up against Peoples-Jones, who had eight receptions for 85 yards, five catches during the fourth quarter, including a 36-yard touchdown reception.

“Donovan Peoples-Jones is the quickest receiver off the ball and he’s physical with a big body,” Tanner said. “He’s a great receiver. That double move that he did on me, that was D-1 right there.”

On the play that he knocked the ball away from Peoples-Jones in the end zone, Tanner said: “I just got in good position and the quarterback threw a jump ball and it was mano a mano and I was able to break it up.”

Romeo co-coach Curt Rienas said Tanner has Division 1 talent.

“He’s always had the ability, but he’s really physically developed in the weight room and he realized how important that was, and the confidence in himself has been big,” Rienas said. “I mean the last five weeks everything moves in slow motion for him because he’s made some plays in this playoff run that people aren’t supposed to do. He’s been outstanding.

“I would like to find a better football player in the state of Michigan than him. I mean he does it all. He’s a Division 1 player. We have three kids — Sam Brunner of Ball State and Joey Bacci and Austin Doan at Central — starting in the (Mid-American Conference) right now that all started in their second year and he’s every bit what any of those guys are.”

Playoff experience pays off

Ishpeming battled its way back from a 16-0 first-half deficit to defeat Pewamo-Westphalia 22-16 in the Division 7 championship game Saturday morning to earn its third state championship in the last four years.

Senior quarterback/defensive back Ozzy Corp led the rally, running for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

It was Pewamo-Westphalia’s first title game appearance since 2011.

“You look at Ozzy and Thomas (Finegan) here and some of our other kids and this is their 20th playoff game, and you can only play 20 in your career,” Ishpeming coach Jeff Olson said. “They’ve played 20 playoff games, they’ve been here four times. They know what it’s like in the lights. They know the routine the night before, the morning of, coming in and the long walk down the tunnel, so I really think that plays a big part because they weren’t fazed by anything.”

The same thing can be said about Ithaca’s playoff experience with senior quarterback Jake Smith rallying the Yellowjackets back from a 13-0 deficit to defeat Clinton 27-20 Friday in the Division 6 title game.

It was Ithaca’s sixth consecutive championship game appearance and fifth state title. The Yellowjackets are 83-1 during that stretch with last year’s 22-12 title game loss to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central its lone setback.

Goricki’s MVPs

■Division 1: Romeo’s Tanner made things happen on both sides of the ball in the Bulldogs’ 41-27 victory. He had 13 carries for 130 yards, including touchdown runs of 20, 31 and 16 with his 16-yarder coming with 1:29 left to cap off a 75-yard, 11-play drive after Detroit Cass Tech pulled within 33-27. He also broke up two passes from his secondary spot, including one headed for Peoples-Jones in the left corner of the end zone.

■Division 2: Posey threw for a state final game record 383 yards and five touchdowns in a thrilling 40-38 comeback win over Lowell. Posey completed 14 of 18 passes for 239 yards and four scores during the second half to rally the Crusaders back from a 31-13 third-quarter deficit. He directed a 97-yard drive during the final 37 seconds, finding Corley for a 40-yard TD pass in the left corner of the end zone on the game’s final play.

■Division 3: Orchard Lake St. Mary four-star junior linebacker Josh Ross made a pivotal play early to give the Eaglets the momentum to earn their second straight championship with a 29-12 win over Chelsea. He made a great catch for an interception at the Chelsea 45 midway through the first quarter and the Eaglets took advantage with Brendan Tabone finding Kahlee Hamler for a 34-yard touchdown pass and a 15-0 lead. He finished with six tackles, one for lost yardage, and a pass break-up.

■Division 4: Zeeland West senior quarterback Casey Brinks completed all four of his passes for 103 yards and directed the wing-T offense to perfection in a 40-14 rout of Flint Powers Catholic for its third state title in the last five years. West piled up 318 yards on the ground, including a 39-yard touchdown run by Brinks who also intercepted two passes. West was 39-2 the last three years with Brinks at quarterback.

■Division 5: River Rouge senior quarterback Antoine Burgess, who threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 70 yards and two more scores in a 40-34 loss to Grand Rapids West Catholic which was West Catholic’s third straight championship. Burgess completed 6 of 8 passes for 174 yards during the fourth quarter Saturday night to rally the Panthers back from a 14-point deficit, but they failed to come up with an onside kick in the final minutes. His 354 passing yards was second best in state history.

■Division 6: Ithaca senior quarterback Jake Smith accounted for more than 300 yards of total offense, running for 126 yards and three touchdowns and completing 10 of 21 passes for 180 yards and a touchdowns in the Yellowjackets’ 27-20 win over Clinton. All four of his TDs came during the second half to rally them back from a 13-0 deficit.

■Division 7: Ishpeming’s Corp rallied the Hematites from a 16-0 deficit to defeat Pewamo-Westphalia, 22-16. Corp rushed for 128 yards on 32 carries, scoring on runs of 1, 4 and 1 yards and batted away a pass in the end zone with 32 seconds left. He was a force during the second half when he ran for 95 yards on 21 carries to keep the ball away from Pewamo-Westphalia and its 3,000-yard rusher Jared Smith. Smith had 149 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown, but limited to 37 yards on eight carries during the second half. Still, Smith left Ford Field with single-season state records for rushing yards (3,250) and rushing touchdowns (53).

■Division 8: Muskegon Catholic Central junior running back Walker Christoffersen rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries and intercepted two passes, the final one in the end zone with 3:21 left in a 7-0 win over Waterford Lakes to give the Crusaders their third straight championship. Christoffersen put the game away with a 30-yard run in the final minute.