The Detroit News continues its countdown of the top 15 Blue Chip recruits for 2016 with Martell Pettaway of Detroit King at No. 14.
Martell Pettaway had some lofty goals when he transferred to Detroit King for his senior season, wanting to run for 2,000 yards and helping the Crusaders to a state championship while playing in memory of his older brother.
Pettaway, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back, didn’t rush for 2,000 yards, but he put King in position to reach the Division 2 state championship game with a 147-yard, two touchdown effort in a 40-6 state semifinal win over Livonia Franklin. The Crusaders went on to earn a dramatic 40-38 comeback win over Lowell in the state title game at Ford Field.
“My parents decided to move back to Detroit so I could finish up at King where my brother helped King win the state championship,” Pettaway said. “I played all season for him. It was so surreal, winning the state title, that I couldn’t believe it. I pointed upward to him after the game and yelled, “We did it!”
Pettaway looked up to his brother Devinne, who played for King’s first state championship team in 2007 before dying that spring after collapsing in the school’s gym.
King coach Dale Harvel took the No. 32 jersey — which was put in retirement following Devinne’s death — and handed it to Pettaway so he could create some special memories.
Yes, Pettaway made his brother proud … all season. He was the missing link in King’s offensive arsenal when in past years it lacked a running game in postseason play. He finished the season with 1,631 yards and 22 TDs.
Pettaway, who was honored as Division 1-2 first-team all-state by The Detroit News, made a big play in the state championship game with his two-point conversion reception with 4:42 left to pull the Crusaders within 38-34.
“He adapted his style to running between the tackles and became very successful getting the tough yards so we could get to the state championship game,” coach Dale Harvel said of Pettaway, who has 4.47 speed and will play next year at West Virginia.
When asked to give a highlight of his season aside from the two wins at Ford Field, a victory over Detroit Cass Tech in the PSL title game and the win over Lowell, Pettaway replied: “Definitely, the state playoff win over Livonia Franklin. We played in the snow outside and it was real cold and Coach (Harvel) went with the mentality that we would run the ball and I just ran with it.”
Pettaway said he felt stronger this season despite playing at 195 to 200 pounds, less than 205 pounds when he played his junior year (1,383 yards, 14 TDs) at St. Clair Shores South Lake.
“I felt a lot stronger,” Pettaway said. “I worked out a lot during the offseason and got to a much more comfortable playing weight. I felt I used my physicality to get through the line this season, then used my speed when I got out into the open field.”
Now, Pettaway plans to use his talent at West Virginia, where he hopes to become a contributor his freshman year.
Pettaway received his first offer from Michigan State, but said he never was a Spartans fan.
“When I took my visit to West Virginia I felt comfortable, and my whole family did too,” Pettaway said. “I developed a great relationship with the coaching staff and I feel I have a chance to play right away.”
DETROIT NEWS BLUE CHIP COUNTDOWN
No. 14 Martell Pettaway, Detroit King (West Virginia)
No. 15 Brad Tanner, Romeo (Western Michigan)