Cass Tech's commanding defense rules in 41-19 PSL championship rout of King

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit Cass Tech dominated in the trenches Saturday afternoon in the PSL championship game at Detroit Northwestern, resulting in an impressive 41-19 victory over No. 5 Detroit King.

It was Cass Tech’s fifth PSL championship since 2013. Cass Tech, which was the last team to repeat as PSL champs (2013 and ’14), failed to make the league playoffs last year.

Cass Tech senior Raheem Anderson II (62) hoists junior Jameel Gardner (9) in the air after running a touchdown during the Detroit PSL Championship football game between Cass Tech and Detroit King at Detroit Northwestern High School in Detroit, Mich on Oct. 17, 2020. Cass Tech won, 41-19. (Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News)

Cass Tech — 5-0 and ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News Super 20 — opened the season with a 34-26 win over King, the defending PSL champs, scoring a pair of fourth-quarter TDs while stopping King in the red zone during the final minute.

The rematch wouldn’t be as entertaining or competitive with Cass Tech’s defense putting pressure on King sophomore quarterback Dante Moore from the opening series, making him feel uncomfortable throughout the game while taking away his favorite target, junior slot receiver/cornerback Lynn Wyche-EL.

Wyche-EL had TD receptions of 17, 86 and 50 yards in the first meeting, but Penn State-bound cornerback Kalen King shut him down this time around, making sure he didn’t have a single catch as Moore was limited to 9 of 23 passing for 90 yards and a TD.

“I knew I had to take him out of the game, so I’ve been working during practice all week on coverages,” said Kalen King of Wyche-EL. “I knew I’d be on their best playmaker and I’m the best playmaker on our team, so it was good competition and I just had to do what I had to do to help my team win.

“I just trusted my technique. I grew up with him (Wyche-EL), he’s my cousin so we’ve been working with each other since we were real little and it paid off for me in the end. This means a lot because we have redemption, so we beat them two times in the same season which is rare, and it feels real good.”

Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher talked about his team’s defense, which limited King (3-2) to 173 total yards, 83 rushing (24 carries).

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“I think the defensive line did a great job, linebackers did a great job and then the defensive backs stepped up and did a very good job of defending the pass today,” Wilcher said. “The most important thing that took him (Wyche-EL) out of the game was the defensive line, how they got a chance to get in the quarterback’s face and he couldn’t get good reads on them, didn’t have clear vision so that was the key right there.”

Cass Tech sophomore quarterback Leeshaun Mumpfield consistently picked on Wyche-EL during the second half, finding a mismatch with 6-foot junior receiver Jameel Gardner having three inches on Wyche-EL and taking advantage of it.

Mumpfield completed 10 of 12 passes for 158 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also ran for 52 yards on six carries as Cass Tech racked up 415 total yards.

Mumpfield found Nate Briggs for a 20-yard TD with 11 seconds left in the half to push Cass Tech’s lead to 21-6 after King pulled within 14-6 with 2:24 remaining on Chansey Willis’ 49-yard TD catch off a pass from Moore.

Cass Tech was impressive in taking the 14-0 lead, getting things done with the running game with Penn State-bound running back/linebacker Kobe King (96 yards, nine carries) — Kalen’s twin brother — rushing for 32 yards on five carries, including a 2-yard TD run, then 6-foot-1, 230-pound Karriem Sharrieff (65 yards, two carries) busting loose for a 52-yard TD run for a 14-0 advantage with seven minutes left.

And, Sharrieff’s long run came just three plays after Kalen King tightly defended Wyche-EL in the end zone on a fourth-down pass by Moore from the Cass Tech 26 to end a scoring threat.

Mumpfield was at his best in the third quarter with Gardner playing a big role.

First, Mumpfield found Gardner for a 39-yard scoring strike and a 28-6 lead just 47 seconds into the second half.

Then, Mumpfield led an 80-yard drive, which included his 30-yard run and late hit penalty, leading to his 10-yard TD pass to Gardner who came back for the underthrown toss, reaching over Wyche-EL, for a 35-6 cushion with 5:40 left in the third.

Finally, after Cass Tech’s defense stopped a fourth-and-1 run for no gain at the King 33, Mumpfield went up top for a 32-yard pass to Gardner who high-pointed the ball at the 1 to set up Alvin Hosendove’s TD run for a 41-6 lead to put the running clock into play with 4:11 left in the third.

“I just trusted my quarterback, did what the coaches asked me to do which is make plays,” said Gardner, who talked about the mismatch on Wyche-EL. “I’m 6-foot, he’s probably 5-8 and we work in the weight room, box jumps all of that, so that’s just the result of all the work I do every day in practice.”

Said Mumpfield: “He (Gardner) made me look good. All of that is just him. Me, I’ve got to put a ball out there and he has a chance to get it. We ran the ball well and when we run it a lot and score off the run two or three times they’re going to put people in the box and then we’re going to air it out.”

Willis, one of the premier point guards in the PSL, was a bright spot for King. He made a great catch on his 49-yard TD catch in the first half and returned a blocked field goal 70 yards for a score with less than three minutes remaining.