DETROIT — Detroit Cass Tech had an especially long halftime during its homecoming contest against Detroit King Saturday afternoon, as a couple of Technicians had some business to take care of during the 20-minute break.
Surrounded by teammates, cheerleaders and family members, seniors Donovan Johnson and Donovan Peoples-Jones received jerseys to commemorate their selections to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, to be played in San Antonio on Jan. 7, 2017 and will be aired on NBC. Only the top 100 seniors in the nation are selected, and it’s rare to have two representatives on the same team.
The event was part of the Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance happened on the field.
“That’s a goal I’ve been waiting to accomplish and I’m glad I accomplished that,” Johnson said. “I’m actually not sure (how I was selected), it’s just that I work hard and every time I touch the ball I play to the best of my ability, and I thank God for that.”
But both justified their selections with their play Saturday afternoon. Peoples-Jones had three catches on the day, but they covered 69, 83 and 25 yards, the latter two putting the Technicians in first-and-goal situations.
Johnson worked his magic from further back on the field, busting touchdowns from 69 (an end sweep) and 82 yards away (screen pass reception). That play was the longest touchdown of his career.
While the honor is a distinguished one, Peoples-Jones said the timing of the ceremony was a bit curious.
“I tried not to pay too much attention to that, I tried to keep focused on the game,” he said. “The game was the reason the jersey presentation was held here. First and foremost, I had to focus on the game.
“To come out after the halftime and keep that momentum flowing was really big for our team,” he added. “Other times you see teams come in and lose momentum after halftime and it gets kind of lopsided. We kept our momentum and I really give it to our coaches for keeping us motivated and getting us ready to play.”
Cass had the momentum thanks to Johnson’s touchdown run, which came with 2:25 to play in the half. While the King defense kept the Technicians off the board in the first quarter and limited them to a field goal in their first scoring opportunity. Donovan Parker’s nice grab of a high pass into the end zone made it 10-0 with 4:44 left in the second, and the Crusaders had to feel that was a deficit they could work their way back from in the second half.
That’s why Johnson’s long run was such a back-breaker. King did score three times after the break, but the Crusaders couldn’t dig out of the 17-point deficit.
Playing in the Army-sponsored All-Star game should showcase both players, neither of whom has announced a college commitment so far.
Johnson said he hopes to indicate his choice “about a week or two after the season.” He has already made an official visit to Virginia Tech, where he said he was impressed with the coaches and the overall attitude. He talked with former Saline quarterback Josh Jackson while there.
Peoples-Jones, meanwhile, hasn’t indicated his leading contenders yet.
“Next year, I don’t know right now,” he said. “It’s a holding pattern. I gotta get a ring first.”