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FOOTBALL: Cass Tech clips Southfield in season-opening super clash at PKC

   | Scott Burnstein

FOOTBALL: Cass Tech clips Southfield in season-opening super clash at PKC

DETROIT – Taken to the brink and still standing tall.

That was the case with nationally-ranked Detroit Cass Tech on the football field Friday night at the annual Prep Kickoff Classic on the campus of Wayne State University.

The Technicians tussled with a loaded Southfield squad in a heavily-hyped season opener and survived a scare from the pesky Bluejays before sneaking out an exciting 18-14 win in front of an overflowing crowd of nearly 7,000 at Adams Field under the lights.

Falling behind 14-12 late in the third quarter courtesy of a forced-fumble by Southfield defensive lineman Chris Williams that his Bluejays teammate Adrian Carter plucked out of the air and took back 41 yards for a touchdown, two-time defending Division 1 state champion Cass Tech wasn’t rattled.

Primarily because of junior quarterback Jayru Campbell, a recent Michigan State-commit and an elite prospect in the country's Class of 2005, who showed his cold-blooded nature in the clutch.

Campbell calmly and concisely led the Technicians on a game-winning drive that culminated in him finding senior wide receiver and Ohio State-commit Damon Webb for a 30-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, leapfrogging his club into an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.

“We had just enough in the tank to hold them (Southfield) off,” Campbell said. “I’m proud of this whole team. Everybody stayed focused and didn’t panic when the chips were down and that composure got us through the fire.”

The Cass Tech defense limited a Southfield offense that features three Division I college-commits and several more recruits, to less than 200 total yards (186), including causing a fumble on third down deep in the Bluejays own territory that ended the game.                                                               

Campbell, a starter under center for the Technicians since his freshman year, was 18-of-28 passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns – his fourth-quarter hook-up with Webb and a 30-yard screen pass that junior tailback Mike Weber jetted to the end zone with.

Weber, like Campbell a top-tier college-recruit, also added a 16-yard touchdown run with five seconds to go in the first half that lifted his team to a 12-7 lead at the break.

Ranked No. 2 in the nation to start the season, Cass Tech has already had seven players off its current roster earn scholarships to Division I schools.

Southfield boasts four Division I commits of its own, as well as uncommitted Malik McDowell (DL), the state’s most-coveted college-recruit on defense. McDowell and Michigan-bound rush-end Lawrence Marshall brought ample pressure in the pocket, but Campbell was able to endure it and still complete close to 60 percent of his passes on the evening.

“Man, Malik and Lawrence were coming after me and I had to keep my poise,” the Cass Tech junior gunslinger recalled in a chat with the media in the aftermath of his stellar effort. “I think I did that pretty well. They’re (McDowell and Marshall) outstanding players, the entire Southfield line-up is and we knew that entering this game. We all had roles to fill and we filled them. That’s why we got the victory.”

On offense, Southfield had trouble establishing consistency. Bluejays senior signal-caller Jalen Brady, committed to Bowling Green since last month, was 6-of-8 on pass-attempt for 115 yards and a 48-yard touchdown bomb to junior wide receiver Ray Buford in the second quarter to push Southfield in front 7-6. Brady was never able to find a true groove though, mainly due to the fact he was sharing snaps with junior back-up Kanye Harris.

Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher is aware of how special Friday’s high-profile affair was.

“Both teams put on an excellent show for the whole city that’s what was most important”

Last year’s event was marred by crowd violence, requiring two stoppages of the game-clock in Cass Tech’s showdown with Birmingham Brother Rice.