It’s hard to believe Detroit Cass Tech is not in the PSL playoffs, but that’s the case since Detroit Mumford pulled off an 18-14 upset of Detroit Renaissance Friday.
Cass Tech, which defeated Mumford 14-6 in Week 5, lost to Renaissance 25-20 on Oct. 4, its second PSL loss, with the first one coming at the hands of long-time rival Detroit King, 47-7 back on Sept. 20.
Mumford didn’t have to face King and has a pair of forfeit victories handed to it against Detroit Douglass and Detroit Northwestern Collegiate.
So, where does that leave Cass Tech, which is 3-4 and in need of having to win its final two regular-season games to have a shot at a 12th straight state playoff appearance?
“We play at Detroit East English Friday,” said Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher, whose team would have played King in a PSL semifinal if Renaissance would have beaten Mumford. “I’d prefer to play King.”
Wilcher wants revenge on a King team that put on an impressive showing in the 40-point win when freshman phenom Dante Moore threw for 277 yards and four TDs in his debut in the rivalry, helping King avenge last year’s 42-8 loss to Cass Tech in the PSL title game.
So, who will be Cass Tech’s Week 9 opponent? Clarkston is also without a game in Week 9, which could end its run of 16 straight state playoff appearances if it doesn’t find an opponent.
Clarkston is 3-4 and needs a win at home against No. 8 Lake Orion Friday, and then get an opponent and a win in Week 9 for a state playoff spot. Clarkston has won nine straight against Lake Orion, last losing in 2010 when Lake Orion won the Division 1 state championship.
“Clarkston, sure I’d play them,” said Wilcher when told Clarkston had no Week 9 opponent.
When Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson was told of Cass Tech’s situation, missing the PSL playoffs, opening a possible matchup between the teams that have a combined six state championships this decade, Richardson replied: “I’ll have to ask my athletic director about that.”
Richardson is focused on finding a game plan to beat Lake Orion after losing to Rochester Adams 28-27 Friday, failing to protect a 13-0 third-quarter lead.
As for Cass Tech, the Technicians lost several skilled players to graduation from a year ago, including quarterback Jalen Graham (Purdue), running backs Jaren Mangham (Colorado) and Lew Nichols (Central Michigan), along with cornerbacks Kyron McKinnie-Harper (Central Michigan) and Ormondell Dingle (Central Michigan), linebacker Devin Nicholson (Missouri) and defensive end James Ester (Northern Illinois).
McKinnie-Harper is starting at CMU and Mangham has rushed for 239 yards and three TDs for Colorado.
“I’m exhausted, frustrated,” Wilcher said. “We can make the basic play, but not much after that. It’s not that we don’t have the talent -- we do. We finally got some break-ups in the back end defensively (in 49-6 win over Cody Friday), intercepted a couple of passes, one for a pick-six.”
Wilcher has seen some growth in senior first-year starting quarterback Sebastian Brown.
“When he listens he’s good, can be real good,” said Wilcher who also has the King twins -- three-star junior linebacker/running back Kobe King and defensive back/receiver Kalen King -- along with four-star junior offensive lineman Raheem Anderson.
Richardson just wants to see Clarkston finish games strong after letting a 41-40 fourth-quarter lead slip away in a 64-41 loss to Oak Park, and then the 13-0 cushion get away against Adams.
Mumford’s final push
Detroit Mumford eighth-year head coach Donshell English wishes his young team could have played its Game 1 opponent in Northwestern Collegiate and Game 3 opponent in Detroit Douglass to give them much needed experience.
English said it was tough to not play in two of the first three weeks of the season, a reason he is proud of Mumford for reaching the PSL playoffs with its win over Renaissance.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, crazy forfeits,” English said. “I have a real young team, start 10 sophomores, and it was hard for them to understand the game in the beginning because of those forfeits, but now they are playing well.
“It (forfeits) was the worst feeling in the world, going into our first game against Country Day and we played them tough, felt we could have beat them if we had a tune-up game (against Northwestern).”
English said playing competitively against Cass Tech gave Mumford confidence facing Renaissance.
“That confidence came around in that Renaissance game because once we gave up that big play (TD early in fourth quarter) no one held their heads down and we came back and we ran out that whole clock, eight minutes and scored with 20 seconds left.”
After Renaissance took the lead with eight minutes remaining, Mumford moved 82 yards on 12 plays to score the winning touchdown on sophomore quarterback Tyler Knolton‘s four-yard run.
Now, Mumford will play Detroit Denby in a semifinal Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Northwestern, following the Division 3-4 semifinal between Henry Ford-Osborn at 5 p.m.
In the other semifinals, No. 17 King will face Renaissance at 2:30 Saturday at Northwestern in Division 1-2, following the Division 3-4 semifinal at noon between Central and Southeastern.
“It’s going to be fun, we’ll be facing one of our former coaches in Deon Godfrey, who is now head coach at Denby,” English said. “He was with me for the 10 years I was at Southeastern, and the first four or five here at Mumford, was my offensive coordinator.”
Chippewa Valley ready for Romeo
Chippewa Valley has won the MAC Red title outright just once in program history and that came last year when it went on to win the state championship.
“Anytime you can win a championship in the MAC Red it’s special,” said Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant. “Our school has only won four MAC Red titles ever, including last year, so it’s not an easy thing to do because of all of the other schools in the conference. Every week is a grind and you’d better come ready to play or you get beat.
“It’s a great opportunity to have the chance to do it again.”
Merchant has put No. 3 Chippewa Valley (6-0, 4-0) in position to get the job done once again, which is impressive since it lost a handful of elite players from that title team, including quarterback Tommy Schuster (North Dakota), receiver/defensive back David Ellis (Indiana), linebacker Marcel Lewis (Michigan State) and running back Andre Chenault.
Chippewa Valley will have the opportunity to celebrate in front of its home fans Friday night when it plays No. 18 Romeo, which dominated Macomb Dakota, 36-7 on Friday to improve to 6-1 (3-1 MAC Red).
“They’re a really good team, super physical on both sides of the ball -- that’s their calling card every year,” said Merchant of Romeo. “They run the ball really well, and once your secondary starts coming up to try to help out on the run they’ll hit you with the big pass.
“I think whichever team can run the ball will have an advantage, and obviously turnovers are going to play a huge part."
Merchant was excited to have the bulk of his offensive line back, and they have done a great job of protecting quarterback Josh Kulka while opening holes for physical 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back Myren Harris.
Kulka has completed 68 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,052 yards and nine TDs with one interception. Harris has rushed for 1,048 yards and 14 TDs.
A Romeo win teamed up with an Eisenhower win over New Baltimore Anchor Bay (0-7, 0-4) would create a three-way tie.
Prep Bowl games set
There will be a Catholic League tripleheader at Ford Field Saturday with Dearborn Divine Child (4-3) facing No. 10 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s at 1:30, followed by Gabriel Richard vs. Cabrini at 4 and Warren De La Salle vs. U-D Jesuit at 7.
De La Salle (4-3), the two-time defending Division 2 state champion, saved its season with a 22-0 upset win over then-No. 9 Davison Friday at Wayne State, handing Davison its first loss of the season. U-D Jesuit is 5-2.
The Catholic League championship games will be settled Saturday, Oct. 26 at Eastern Michigan’s Rynearson Stadium.
Divine Child will face U-D Jesuit at noon, followed by Gabriel Richard against an opponent to be determined at 2:30, leading up to the Central Division championship bout between Detroit Catholic Central and St. Mary’s
Catholic Central (4-3) defeated St. Mary’s 20-14 Friday and needs more wins to get into the state playoffs and the road won’t be easy. Catholic Central plays at No. 20 River Rouge Friday.
St. Mary’s (6-1) has already clinched a state playoff spot after missing the postseason the previous two years.