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Denby keeps playoff hopes alive with 22-14 win over Henry Ford

Football   | Jeff Dullack

Denby keeps playoff hopes alive with 22-14 win over Henry Ford

Detroit – The playoffs began a week early on Thursday night as Detroit Denby and Detroit Henry Ford entered their week nine matchup in need of a win to qualify for the playoffs.

But it was Denby, in search of its third consecutive playoff appearance that would pull off the win as the Tars scored late in Thursday’s game to pick up a 22-14 win over Henry Ford.

“It was a playoff game,” Denby coach Tony Blankenship said. “The mindset is that we prepared for it as a playoff game we knew that these kids had a really successful season at Henry Ford and they had made a nice run in the city playoffs and we knew they were going to come to play and they did.”

With the win, Denby improves to 5-4 on the season, but Blankenship believes his team will have enough playoff points to qualify for the postseason.

With the game tied at 14-14 late in the game, Denby forced a Henry Ford punt and took over at the Trojan’s 30 yard line and would advance the ball down to the Henry Ford 10 yard line after a pair of runs by Adonte Calhoun.

Then, with 2:15 left to play, senior quarterback William Goodwin would find Calhoun for a 10-yard touchdown to give Denby a 22-14 lead as the Tars would hang on to win.

“The last play, I just knew I had to get into the end zone for my team, they count on me,” he said. “Big players make big time plays in big games, we needed it to make the state playoffs.”

With Denby leading 14-8 coming out of halftime, Henry Ford knotted the game up with a trick play on a long fourth down attempt as the Trojans ran a reverse pass and sophomore Bernard Burns found a wide open Ricky Grarner for a 32-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

Aside from the trick play, the Denby defense contained the Henry Ford offense for most of the afternoon and Blankenship said that Henry Ford had some good trick plays ready, but credited his team for its play on defense throughout the game.

“He (Henry Ford coach Ken Fenton) had some gimmicks for us and he did a really good job,” he said. “The quarterback’s a really good football player, he’s a great athlete and what we wanted to do was match up on those trick plays. Everybody has to get a man and that’s it, just do your job and we put some pressure on them to make some mistakes.” 

In the first half, Denby jumped out to an early 8-0 lead when Calhoun scored on an 18-yard pass from Goodwin with 1:19 left to play in the first quarter.

Henry Ford would respond early in the second quarter when senior quarterback Jeremy Crawley took off on a 55-yard touchdown run with 10:15 left before halftime to tie the game up at 8-8.

But on the very next drive for the Tars, they would retake the lead as Denby would drive 75 yards down the field on eight running plays, capped off by a 15-yard run by Calhoun to push the lead to 14-8 with 6:24 left in the second quarter.

Blankenship said that with the win on Thursday in a playoff-like atmosphere it should help his team moving forward if the Tars qualify for the postseason.

“Mentally, it helps us as far as our mental toughness and understanding that we’ve played in close games and we’ve won close games in this type of environment,” he said. “It felt like a state playoff game, the crowd was excited and everybody knows the importance of the game. Our kids were tense, their kids were tense, the coaches were making really good calls and it felt like a playoff game and we’re prepared, I hope, I feel like we’re battle tested."