Prep notebook: Red-hot Belleville, Detroit Cass Tech on course for regional clash
Belleville and Detroit Cass Tech are both playing at a high level and on collision course to face each other in the Division 1 regional championship game in late November.
Belleville — 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in The Detroit News Super 20 — has outscored its opponents, 262-0, during the last four games after fighting for a 29-26 win in Week 1 over Livonia Stevenson.
Two of Belleville’s shutouts have come against quality opponents, 69-0 over Dearborn Fordson in Week 2 and a 56-0 win over Livonia Franklin on Friday.
Belleville sixth-year coach Jermain Crowell said prior to the season that “I’ve sent the word out to anybody that we play, give us your best four quarters and we’ll give you our best four; leave it all on the table.”
Crowell also said he was going to do his best to make sure Belleville senior quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid had every opportunity to become the state’s career record holder for touchdown passes.
Dhue-Reid already has thrown for 24 TDs this season to give him 119 for his career, five shy of matching the record of 124 currently held by Mason Gee-Montgomery of Stockbridge.
Belleville will play host to Livonia Churchill (4-1) Friday for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East Division championship.
While Belleville has been getting things done through the air with Dhue-Reid having multiple weapons to work with, Crowell knows he needs to get the running game going for cold-weather games during the playoffs. Belleville could face KLAA West Division champion Canton (5-0) in a district final.
“We’re still a long way away from where we need to be. Christian’s doing well, but it’s overkill; we’ve got to get the running game going,” Crowell said. “We have the potential to be real good, but we haven’t worked on the running game. We have running backs, but we haven’t been working on the running game, so it’s getting closer and closer to playing for something real.
“Christian’s thrown for 24 touchdowns this season so he’s close to the record, but we have to get that running game going, so we have to focus on running the ball because in order to beat Cass we’re going to have to be able to run the ball, they’re not going to just let us sit back and just throw the ball whenever we’re ready, and it’s going to be cold too.”
Dominant effort by Cass Tech
Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher just wants his team to continue and play at the same level it did in Saturday’s dominating 41-19 win over then-No. 5 Detroit King in the PSL championship game with Crowell — a defensive coordinator at Cass Tech during its state title teams in 2011 and ’12 — in attendance.
Wilcher should be thrilled since his offense isn’t one-dimensional like Belleville’s pass-happy attack.
In fact, it’s pick your poison when defending second-ranked Cass Tech (5-0), which had sophomore quarterback Leeshaun Mumpfield completing 10-of-12 passes for 158 yards and three TDs while 6-foot-1, 230-pound backs Kobe King (96 yards, nine carries) and Karriem Sharrieff (65 yards, two carries) led a running attack that piled up 255 yards on 28 attempts.
Cass Tech’s offensive line is anchored by Michigan-bound center Raheem Anderson (6-3, 300), Pittsburgh-bound three-star tackle Terrence Enos (6-5, 320) and three-star guard Charlie Sims (6-5, 330).
Cass Tech accounted for 413 total yards of offense on 40 plays for an average of more than 10 yards a snap against a King team which won the Division 3 state title in 2018 and lost to Muskegon Mona Shores in last year’s Division 2 championship game at Ford Field.
As great as Cass Tech’s offense was in the PSL title game, its defense matched or surpassed the effort.
“The defensive line did a great job, the linebackers did a great job and then the defensive backs stepped up and did a very, very good job of defending the pass,” Wilcher said. “I just hope that we can just continue this momentum and keep developing as a team because I think the team is what’s going to be the key to our success.
“We need to stop the individualization, stop the people trying to say, ‘I can do the job,’ and work with each other because if we work with each other we’ll be successful and that’s what it’s all about, trying to be Cass Tech football.”
Mumpfield has been consistent all season, starting with his debut in a 34-26 season-opening win over King when he threw for 317 yards and three TDs, all scoring strikes coming to Penn State-bound receiver/cornerback Kalen King — Kobe’s twin brother — including 45 and 57 yards in the fourth quarter.
In the Cass Tech-King rematch, Kalen King made sure Cass Tech would dethrone the defending champs by holding standout receiver Lynn Wyche-El without a reception after Wyche-El had TD grabs of 17, 86 and 50 yards in the season opener.
“A lot of people don’t understand that I’m not the only playmaker on the team,” Kalen King said. “We have many playmakers, Jameel (Gardner), Nate (Briggs), Jacob (Taylor), we have a bunch of playmakers, they just look at me and think I’m the main playmaker, but we have a lot of them, and we work well together.”
Briggs had a 20-yard TD catch for a 21-6 lead in the final seconds of the first half and Gardner had TD catches of 39 and 10 in the second half, displaying his outstanding leaping ability.
Wilcher also has to be pleased that Sharrieff, who has an offer from Central Michigan, and Sims, who decided to come out after the MHSAA decided to bring back the season in early September after postponing it weeks earlier. Sharrieff and Sims decided earlier in the summer they weren’t going to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, Tyrone Spencer can only hope his King team rebounds from the one-sided loss like it did two years ago when it lost 42-8 to Cass Tech in the PSL final before going on to upset Muskegon in the Division 3 state title game.
King will play Friday at Chippewa Valley in the FSD Game of the Week, while Cass Tech plays host to Warren De La Salle on Saturday afternoon.
Canton looks to clinch
Canton is off to its first 5-0 start since 2015 when it advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals, including a 21-20 Week 3 win over a Brighton team which advanced to the state championship game last season.
Canton is pounding the ball on the ground out of its Wing-T offense, while also getting timely passing from senior quarterback Kaleb Burg, averaging nearly 40 points.
Canton built a 28-0 halftime lead Friday in a 49-28 win over Hartland to clinch at least a share of the KLAA West division title with Burg finding Wesley Faulkner for a 33-yard TD pass and Caleb Williams for an 11-yard TD strike.
“You could tell in the offseason they had that old eye of the tiger to them, a little something about them when they worked out, when they trained in the weight room, how they bonded, it was like we’re ready to go,” Canton third-year head coach Andy LaFata said. “The strength of this team is the camaraderie with each other. They are all friends and they all like each other which shows up on the field. They play for each other and play together.”
Canton has a trio of solid running backs in junior Zack Badger (628 yards, 70 carries, nine TDs), Marco Johnson (508 yards, seven TDs) and Faulkner with Burg throwing for 404 yards and seven TDs while running for six TDs.
Canton’s defense is led by linebacker Aran Patrick.
“We have a lot of under the radar guys who have played great, guys like linebacker Aran Patrick who has 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks,” LaFata said. “He’s the real life Rocky Balboa, just 5-10 and 190 pounds when soaking wet and plays like he’s 6-3, 225. He’s a three-year starter who is the constant underdog based on his size.”
Canton can clinch the KLAA West title outright with a win over cross-parking lot rival Plymouth — the defending West champs — on Friday night.
Prep Bowl Saturday
Catholic League Executive Director Vic Michaels wanted the Prep Bowl to be played at Ford Field, which he said still isn’t allowing spectators.
With Ford Field out of the picture, Michaels said the Prep Bowl games will be held at Detroit Catholic Central on Saturday with Riverview Gabriel Richard facing Clarkston Everest Collegiate at 1, followed by the showdown between No. 17 Detroit Catholic Central (5-0) and Detroit Loyola (5-0) at 4.
Catholic Central defeated U-D Jesuit — the AA champ last year — 21-3 Friday night, while Loyola dominated Romulus, 74-6 Saturday. Loyola earned the right to face Catholic Central when U-D Jesuit forfeited its game with Loyola due to COVID-19 last week.
Loyola junior quarterback Anthony Garrett has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 13 TDs, including three scoring tosses in the win over Romulus.
Loyola also has a dangerous return man in Quise Henderson who returned a punt 60 yards for a score in the Romulus game, also scoring on a 70-yard kickoff return.
Houston makes difference
Sara Houston stepped up and kicked five PATs Friday in a 35-34 overtime win over Berkley, including the winner in OT.
Bloomfield Hills coach Dan Loria is accustomed to having female placekickers on his team, having Olivia Brack and Sydney Houston share duties in 2017.