The battle for the Detroit Public School League Class A Championship was decided by the defenses on this cold and often rainy day. In the end the Detroit Martin Luther King Crusaders edged out the Detroit Cody Comets 19-14.
"This is my first PSL title as a head coach, this one feels special," Crusaders head coach Dale Harvel said. "It was so great to see us rebound this year after the year we had last year. I knew we would do it, I just didn't think it would happen so fast."
Both defenses were more than the offenses could handle with each defense causing three turnovers. The game also saw a defensive touchdown and a kick return touchdown on the afternoon.
The Crusaders drew blood first after their defense had forced the Comets to punt from their own 5-yard line. Senior quarterback and return man Derond Crawford fielded the 20 yard punt and took it all the way down to the Comet 4-yard line. Shortly after that sophomore running back Dennis Norfleet would scamper in from 2 yards out to give the Crusaders a 6-0 lead.
The Crusaders defense picked up right where they left off on the very next drive. First play of the Comets new drive saw junior quarterback La Rolans Joliffi throw an interception for a touchdown. Crusaders senior free safety Robert Daniels stepped in front of the intended receiver and took the interception 13 yards for the 12-0 lead.
However, the Comets picked their junior quarterback up by returning the kickoff 92 yards to cut the lead in half 12-6. Senior wide receiver Foley Mitchell made defenders miss and broke a few tackles on his way to the end zone. The score remained 12-6 Crusaders going into the half.
Coming out of halftime the Crusaders looked determined to put the Comets away for good. They forced a fumble on the Comets first play of the half and four plays later saw their lead grow to 19-6. Crawford who finished 3 for 6 on the day with 32 yards passing and one touchdown, found senior receiver Deantae Hammond for the touchdown. Hammond had 2 catches for 26 yards and a touchdown.
"It was tough out there today, our line didn't execute as well as we wanted," said Derond Crawford. "We made adjustments at the half and they stepped up. And my coaches were telling me to look for slants, they'd be open all day. And it was, that's what I threw to Deantae."
The Crusaders just could not deliver a knockout punch to put the Comets down for good though. After stopping the Comets at the Crusader 5-yard line, the Crusaders fumbled on their very first play giving the Comets new life.
Three plays later senior running back Tyerell Reed powered his way into the end zone for the touchdown. The Comets called upon Reed one more time as he carried the two point conversion in to make the score 19-14 Crusaders with 4 minutes left to play.
After forcing a three and out, the Comets had the ball back at their own 30-yard line with 2:06 left on the clock and no timeouts remaining. That's when the Crusaders finally landed their haymaker. Senior defensive back Larry Steppes made an acrobatic leaping catch and intercepted Joliffi on the first play.
"We've had a good defense all year long. This was nothing new to us," said Coach Harvel. "We know if our offense struggles we can rely on our defense to pick them up and they did again today."
The Detroit Martin Luther King Crusaders finished 7-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference. They'll have to wait until after the selection show tomorrow to see who they'll play in the opening round of the State playoffs. The Detroit Cody Comets finished 4-5 overall and 3-1 in the conference.