After the final horn sounded, securing Detroit King’s second-straight Division 2 football title with an 18-0 victory over Walled Lake Western, defensive back/receiver Ambry Thomas led the Crusaders on a 110-yard dash Friday at Ford Field.
It was in honor of King’s late coach Dale Harvel, who suffered a heart attack and died in front of his players before the start of the season.
“We run 110s after practice and we’ve been doing it this year to honor Coach Harv,” said Thomas. “I said this awhile back that, after this championship, I’m running 110 for Coach Harv. I knew he would’ve loved it and we had dedicated this season to him.
“I knew after we lost to (Detroit) Cass Tech the first time, people would count us out. So I had to make a statement and get the team going.”
Thomas did, leading a secondary that came up with four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“I didn’t know what they were going to do,” said King coach Tyrone Spencer. “They needed to express themselves and they did.”
■Film studies: The King football coaches said film of Western’s offense helped them decide whom Thomas would defend.
Thomas covered the Warriors’ Kameron Ford, who looked faster on film than Western’s slot back and Michigan State recruit Cody White.
Many expected Thomas would cover White, but that assignment fell to Jesse Scarber and Jae’Veyon Morton. And the moves worked well as the Crusaders came up with the four interceptions.
“I learned a lot from last year’s championship game,” said Spencer. “We watched film this week and saw Kam was a speedy guy who could take the top off a defense and I wanted my speed guy on him. We could bracket or double-team Cody. We could match his quickness and watch him in the red zone.”
King got the big break it needed early in the third quarter when junior defensive end Maurice White tipped a Johnny Tracy pass into the arms of Scarber, who took his second interception of the game 61 yards for a touchdown with 10:37 left in the third to make it 12-0.
Morton sealed the deal with an interception and 66-yard return for a score with 2:53 left.
Thomas did win a duel with Cody White when King was on offense, catching a pass from Dequan Finn at the five and maneuvering past the MSU commit to score from nine yards out with 12 seconds left in the first half to give King a 6-0 lead.
Thomas finished his career with two tackles and two catches for 18 yards.
■Next stars: The state champs have some impressive young players, including sophomore defensive tackle Jalen Bell and sophomore linebacker Tyrece Woods.
Bell is just 5-feet-10, but weighs 275 pounds. He lived in the Walled Lake Western backfield Friday, recording one sack and three tackles for loss, and also was dominant in a win over Temperance Bedford in the regional final..
Woods (five tackles, one sack) fits the classic King linebacker build, standing 6-2 and weighing 225 pounds. He’ll be highly recruited and made his presence felt against the Warriors with some bone-jarring tackles.
Oh, and don’t forget Marvin Grant (seven tackles), a sophomore defensive back with good size (6-0, 170) and speed, and Maurice White (three tackles, one sack).
Finn, the team’s sophomore quarterback, should be even better next season.
“I can’t wait until next year,” said Finn. “I’m having a hard time putting this into words. Ambry always kept me up and if anything went wrong, he just kept telling me to keep going. He’s my big brother.”
Said Thomas: “Next year’s team could be better. We have a lot of talented guys coming back.”