Detroit Central clobbers Henry Ford to capture PSL Division 2 title

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit — Elijah Grainger put on a show in the Detroit Public School League Division 2 championship game Friday, leading Detroit Central to a dominating 36-0 victory over Detroit Henry Ford at Renaissance High.

Grainger, a junior quarterback, threw for three first-half touchdowns to help Central (8-1) take a commanding 24-0 lead.

After a 20-yard punt return by Orlando Clarkston, Grainger had a short field to work with and on the first play found Kenyatta McKeever for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 5:41 left in the opening quarter.

Clarkston went to work again, returning a punt 15 yards to the Henry Ford 38 and a personal foul penalty put the ball at the 23.

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Central — which defeated Henry Ford, 27-26, in Week 5 — then operated out of the Wildcat and Clarkston scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to open up an 12-0 cushion with 7:01 left in the second quarter.

So, what was the difference between the first meeting between the teams and the one-sided rematch?

“I had to keep my head in the game this time, had to give 150 percent,” Grainger said. “We have a lot of weapons to work with.”

Grainger and Clarkston combined to make a big play on Central’s next drive when Clarkston hauled in Grainger’s screen pass on a third-and-17 from the 35 and turned it into a 25-yard gain to the Henry Ford 40. That set up Grainger’s 26-yard TD pass to Jalen Strickland with 52 seconds left in the half.

“Coach (Jimmie Macon) came to me and said I was getting a screen, so I had to make use of it, I had to use what I had in front of me," Clarkston said. "It was third-and-long and I knew we needed to get that first down."

Of working out of the Wildcat, Clarkston said: “I love it. I love touching the ball every play.”

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Central recovered the ensuing kickoff with Sincere Strimpel grabbing the ball at the Henry Ford 43. Grainger didn’t take up too much time before finding Jus'tyz Tuggle for a 23-yard scoring strike with 14 seconds remaining in the half for a 24-0 lead.

Central had another short field to work with to start the second half after a short punt. It took over at the Henry Ford 36 and Clarkston’s 23-yard run set up Alexander Jones’ 5-yard TD run for a 30-0 advantage.

Judah Daniels and Strimpel, Central’s defensive ends, caused problems for Henry Ford quarterbacks Marlon Jones and Steven Grimes throughout the game, getting multiple sacks.

Henry Ford (6-3) finally got the ball inside the Central 20 midway through the third quarter, but Grimes’ third-down pass in the end zone was dropped and his fourth-down pass was intercepted by Grainger.