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Prep football preview: Detroit PSL

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News
Rayshawn Williams of Detroit King

Projected order of finish by consensus of coaches; 2018 records in parentheses.

Division 1

1. DETROIT KING (12-2)

Coach Tyrone Spencer earned his second state title and fourth in school history last year, as King won the Division 3 championship against Muskegon. The biggest question mark is at quarterback, where freshman Dante Moore (6-2, 180) entered camp as the starter. There’s no denying his talent -- Kentucky and Michigan have already offered. Moore has plenty of talent to work with: senior WR Rashawn Williams (Indiana commit), senior RB Peny Boone (Maryland) and OT Deondre Buford among them. Senior CB Joseph Frazier, junior DL Esean Carter and junior S Jaylen Reed (Michigan State offer) are among the defensive leaders. The Aug. 31 opener against Detroit Catholic Central at Wayne State is among the highlights of opening weekend.

Deondre Buford of Detroit King


King would get the last laugh by winning a state title, but Cass Tech won the PSL championship in resounding fashion, knocking off its rival 42-8. Cass Tech is junior-heavy among college prospects: C/DT Raheem Anderson (Michigan has offered), WR/CB Kalen King, OT Terrence Enos, RB/LB Kobe King, OT/DT Duran Ray and TE/DE Clarence Wilson are among the standouts. There are nine seniors for coach Thomas Wilcher, and Cass Tech will be strong in the trenches. The slate opens with two out-of-state teams, Chicago Phillips and Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward.


Coach Donshell English’s team will be big up front, averaging about 315 pounds across the offensive line. That group will be led by seniors C/DL James Toles and OL/DL Jonathan Scott, protecting the way for the versatile Toddrick Downer, who will play all over the field, and sophomore quarterbacks Tyler Knolton and D’Corien Earnest, who are vying of the starting role.


Denby lost 18 seniors from last year’s team and its head coach, but the optimism starts with DE Latrell Thompkins, a Toledo commit. Taking over for the departed Tony Blankenship is coach Deon Godfrey, a Cass Tech alumnus and the head coach last season at Delta Prep before that school closed. Other top players include Semaj McDonald, a senior DB, and Keyon Hammond, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior WR/S, who came up from junior varsity to score three touchdowns and make four interceptions in the state playoffs.


There are just five seniors, but there’s a lot of talent for coach Andre Harlan at Western. Senior RB Marcell Cutright had 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, and sophomore WR LaMont Parks made 45 catches and scored nine touchdowns as a freshman. Two-way junior linemen Arnez Polk and Hezekiah Green will lead in the trenches.


Coach Drake Wilkins opened camp this summer only to find that many of his players didn’t return: Eight starters, including QB RaeQuan Beal and WR Robert Army (Southfield A&T). Beal is moving to a school in Ohio, Wilkins said. Talent still remains, such as seniors Jordan Johnson (DB) and Jerome Nichols (TE/LB), and juniors Justin Whitehorn (RB), Cejay White (C/DT) and Julius Godbott (OT/DT), but it’ll be tough to pick up the pieces.


Richard Kiel, former head coach at Central and CMA, was hired in May. The former Murray-Wright standout played at Central Michigan and takes over for Calvin Norman, who coached at Cody for 11 years. Cody lost WR/S Joshua Wiley to River Rouge in a transfer, but has talent ready to make names for themselves. “It’s a lot of people who haven’t had their opportunity to shine,” Kiel said. “That’s kind of what we’re banking on: Them proving themselves once they get their opportunity.”


Senior QB Darrius Clay, a transfer from Ben Davis in Indianapolis, calls himself an “athlete who plays quarterback.” He’ll be taking snaps from one of his team’s top linemen, senior C/DT Rayvell Johnson. Coach Larry Porter took over the program last season two weeks before the season started and is tailoring the offense around Clay this year. The Ville played a lot of sophomores last year, which should help this year and next.

Deon Godfrey is in his first season as Detroit Denby coach.

Division 2


Osborn is coming off its first divisional title since 2008 and coach Marlon Baker likes the group he has back, including seniors Julius Draughan (WR/DB), Kawan Carter (RB/S), Derrick Newsome (QB), Rashon Epps (RB/LB) and 6-1, 230-pound Jordan Jackson (C). “These guys got a taste of success and they like the way it tastes, and we’ve got to keep on striving and see if you we can go a little further this year,” Baker said.


Central took a step back after winning the PSL B championship in 2017, but returns eight starters on defense and seven on offense for coach Jimmie Macon. RB Orlando Clarkston (Siena Heights offer), S Alexander Jones and C/DT Louis New lead the senior class, and ATH Justyz Tuggle and QB Elijah Grainger are exciting juniors for the team.


Coach Courtney Dinkins has just three seniors: QB Demontez Jones (5-7, 170), who also plays point guard in basketball, OL/DL leader Kevin Hopson (5-10, 215), and DB Azia Isaac, one of the few girls playing football across the state. Southeastern went 8-4 last season, winning two games in the state playoffs and advancing to regionals for the first time since 2009. Top young players include WR/DE Donald Echols (6-4, 190), sophomore OT Camren May (6-5, 265), and sophomore DB/WR Armani Smith (5-10, 165).


After 14 years as an assistant at Renaissance, Central and Old Redford, coach Harold Harris has his first head coaching job. With Henry Ford, he has an 11-man senior class, led by QB/DB Cardier Poellnitz, RB/LB Donald Cole and WR/DB Thomas Williams. There’s about 30 kids overall in the program, Harris said.

5. DETROIT CMA (1-8)

Since starting the football program in 2014, CMA has won one game in each of its first five seasons. With seniors WR/CB Raymond Bush (WR/CB) and QB Taiquon Reid, along with juniors Jeremiah Williams (TB/S) and Evan Edgar (RB/CB) leading the way, coach Quan Edgar said there could be more wins coming this year. “I think we’re going to surprise some people,” he said.


Coach Ralph Sewell, a former three-year starter at Central Michigan, comes over from his defensive coordinator post at Osborn to lead Pershing in his first head coaching job. The former Denby standout wants discipline out of his young team, which has four seniors. Team leaders include senior QB/LB Keyshawn Brown, junior RB Antonio Powell, and junior OL/DL Tayaun Jackson (6-0, 270).


Northwestern will be seeking its first win since 2016, facing a 22-game losing streak. Coach Leonard Cry has about 16 players out in his second season with the Colts after more than two decades in the PSL, where he starred at Redford before playing running back at Cincinnati. Seniors are leading the way: ATH J’orian O’Neal, LB/S/FB Solomon Clark, and two-way linemen Alonzo Webster and Reginald Brown.


Nothing is official, but there’s a significant chance there will not be a football team at Douglass this year, coach and athletic director Shaheed Saleem said. The program was rocked by the unexpected death of Blanton Day, a key assistant coach, earlier this month. If Douglass is not able to field a team, opponents will have a bye week in their schedules.