Cass Tech vs. King a showdown of blue chip prospects

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Donovan Peoples-Jones

Detroit – Cass Tech quarterback Rodney Hall can’t wait to get on his home field Saturday at noon to face King in a midseason PSL showdown – for a number of reasons.

Hall, a senior quarterback, will be looking to help Cass Tech – ranked No. 1 in The Detroit News Super 20 poll – pay back No. 4 King for a pair of close losses last season.

King defeated Cass Tech 31-28 in overtime on a late field goal in Week No. 5 last season, then 27-25 in the PSL title game at Ford Field. The teams both went on to make return trips to Ford Field, with King winning the Division 2 state championship and Cass Tech falling to Romeo in the Division 1 final.

Hall is also looking forward to the game since he missed the state title game with a broken ankle. He is now healthy and ready to show he is at full strength with the ability to get things done like he did last year, when he threw for 2,384 yards and 19 TDs, and ran for 1,127 and 16 TDs.

“I feel good, 100 percent,” said Hall, who will play next year at Northern Illinois. “I worked hard to get back.”

Hall will be among nearly two dozen players from Cass Tech and King who will be playing Division 1 football on Saturday afternoons in the years ahead. The players from the teams are familiar with each other.

“We all know each other and I’m well aware of their defense,” said Hall of King, which has outscored opponents 243-6 during its 4-0 start. “It’s a highly-respected defense over there and we’ll be looking to pass the ball.”

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No doubt, the players are familiar with each other. Cass Tech senior linebacker Desean Boyd is so close to King senior running back Kevin Willis that they are almost family. Well, Boyd and Willis actually are family since Boyd’s older sister married Willis’ father.

Willis, who has 4.5 speed, has rushed for 477 yards and six TDs, averaging 9.2 yards per carry. He is being recruited by Grand Valley, but he could end up at Eastern Michigan, where Boyd is committed to play.

King was loaded with Division 1 talent and Power Five conference players last year with receiver Donnie Corley (Michigan State), cornerback Lavert Hill (Michigan) and running back Martell Pettaway (West Virginia) moving on, along with quarterback Armani Posey (Bowling Green), receiver Dontre Boyd (Western Michigan) and defensive lineman Leon Page (Central Michigan).

Ambry Thomas

Still, King returned a lot of talent with six Division 1 players, led by four-star cornerback / receiver Ambry Thomas, The Detroit News’ No. 2 player in the state, behind Cass Tech receiver / defensive back Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Cass Tech’s Power Five recruits are four-star defensive back Jaylen Kelly-Powell, four-star defensive back Donovan Johnson, three-star offensive lineman Jordan Reid (Michigan State), three-star defensive end Zach Morton (Syracuse), along with four-star junior athlete Kalon Gervin and four-star junior safety / linebacker DeAndre Square.

No doubt, Cass Tech will be the place to be Saturday for fans to get a glimpse of the stars of the future. Peoples-Jones will be honored as U.S. Army All-American at halftime with the organization’s representatives handing him his jersey for the game, which will be played in January at San Antonio."

"We’re close,” said Peoples-Jones of his relationship with Thomas; it is expected they will be involved in some one-on-one matchups. “It’s not about us, though. We just want to win the game. It doesn’t matter who I’m going against. I just want to win the game, help my team.”

Peoples-Jones, the top-rated receiver in the nation, made the big plays on the defensive end last Saturday in a 56-16 rout of East English, returning an interception for a TD and also scoring off a fumble recovery.

Peoples-Jones plans to enroll early. He already has taken one official visit to Nebraska and is planning on taking a trip to Florida in October. Michigan and Michigan State are still in the mix, as are the Wolverines and Spartans for Kelly-Powell, who took a trip to Oregon.

Kelly-Powell had a whopping 43 offers at the start of the season, including Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. He loves putting his talent up against the best and is looking forward to the showdown with King.

“It’s always great going up against those guys,” said Kelly-Powell of playing King. “They have guys who are just as good as us, just as athletic as us. They have a lot of D1 players, just like we do, so it’s going to be great competition. Plus, we grew up with a lot of those guys, played with them or against them in Little League. I’m really looking forward to it.”

So, where is Kelly-Powell with his recruiting process?

“I’ve taken two official visits, to Nebraska and Oregon,” said Kelly-Powell. “I went to Nebraska’s second game and to Oregon two weeks ago. Their fan bases are incredible. My next visit will be to Wisconsin, after that I don’t know, but Michigan and Michigan State are still in the running.”

Jaylen Kelly-Powell


Donovan Peoples-Jones, Sr., WR/DB – Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Florida

Jaylen Kelly-Powell, Sr., DB – Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee

Donovan Johnson, Sr., DB/RB – Virginia Tech, Penn State, West Virginia, Oregon, Tennessee, Nebraska

Jordan Reid, Sr., OL – Michigan State commit

Zach Morton, Sr., DE – Syracuse commit

Rodney Hall, Sr., QB – Northern Illinois commit

Desean Boyd, Sr., LB – Eastern Michigan commit

Kelvin Ateman, Sr., OL – offers from Western Michigan, Toledo, Iowa State, Eastern Michigan

Otis Doss, Sr., LB – offer from Kent State

Kalon Gervin, Jr., DB/WR – offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Oklahoma

DeAndre Square, Jr., LB/S – offers from Michigan State, Arizona

Xavier Goldsmith, So., DB – offers from Colorado, Cincinnati

Aaron Jackson, Jr., QB – offer from Western Illinois, Morgan State

Taron Young, Sr., LB – offer from FCS Delaware State


Ambry Thomas, Sr., CB-WR – Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Notre Dame

Cepeda Phillips, Sr., LB – Kent State commit

Ra’Shawn Williams, So., WR – Kentucky offer

Marvin Grant, So., DB/RB – Toledo offer

Jaeveyon Morton, Jr., DB – Akron offer

Tyrece Woods, So., LB – Eastern Michigan offer