Mick McCabe Special to the Detroit Free Press
Published 2:01 PM EDT Oct 28, 2018
The football state playoffs are underway so it must be time for Dearborn Fordson and Detroit Cass Tech to play their annual Here We Go Again game.
“It was definitely almost Not Here We Go Again,” said Fordson coach Walker Zaban.
Fordson had to erase a 17-3 halftime deficit to escape the first round with a 24-17 victory over Grosse Pointe South in a Division 1 district semifinal game.
“I thought South did an excellent job overall,” Zaban said. “Their kids were well-prepared. They did a better job than us coaching-wise. Their kids played harder than our kids did.”
If you think Zaban and his assistants huddled at halftime and strategized a way to turn the tide you would be wrong.
“When we spoke to the kids at halftime we told them the game plan was not changing,” he said. “They had to execute and go from there.”
The Fordson defense came alive in the third quarter, but the Tractors still trailed, 17-3, leading into the fourth quarter before the offense took over.
Abraham Jafaar’s 40-yard touchdown run tied the game with less than five minutes left and two minutes later Hussein Ajami hooked up with Ahmad Allamy on a 25-yard screen pass to earn its annual playoff game against Cass Tech.
Cass is ranked No. 1 and has ended Fordson’s season in each of the last four years. Outside of its Week 2 21-20 victory over Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward, Cass has won every game by at least 33 points and hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown in a game.
In other words, the Technicians are loaded again.
“They have terrific athletes and at running back they can go three deep,” said Zaban. “And that’s not even talking about the quarterback that’s very good.”
Players like All-America receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones have come and gone, but Zaban doesn’t see a drop in the talent level.
“Their receivers are typical,” he said. “All that doesn’t go if your line doesn’t play well and they have a solid line. And that’s just from the offensive side of things.”
That is why the Technicians are prohibitive favorite to make it five straight over Fordson, but don’t dismiss the Tractors too quickly.
The Fordson players are tough and they back down from no one. A year ago Cass only beat Fordson, 27-22, which is why Zaban is looking forward to the annual Here We Go Again game.
“We’re happy; we’re excited to be still alive and be playing,” he said. “We’re down to 16 teams in Division 1 and we’re lucky enough to be one of them.”
More: Michigan high school football playoffs: Second-round pairings
Delton Kellogg gave up a season-high 50 points in its Division 6 district game, but it managed to win the game. Better yet, it won with a running clock.
Kellogg set a school scoring record in its 86-50 victory over Niles Brandywine. The two schools combined for the fifth highest point total by two teams in state history.
“We knew they had a receiver we were struggling to cover and every time we put pressure on their quarterback they’d run a draw and burn us in the middle,” Delton coach Ryan Bates said. “We knew if we took the pedal off the gas they were going to come back and get us.”
The Panthers run a version of the wing-T, but with a full-house backfield and two tight ends, similar to the style used by Zeeland West and Canton.
“Our goal every game is to get the ball and get one of those nine, 10, 11 play drives,” Bates said. “This time every third or fourth play we were busting.”
Busting those plays were running backs Max Swift, who ran for 327 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, and Riley Roblyer, who picked up 201 yards and four TDs on 16 carries and also returned a kickoff 85 yards for another score.
On the season, both Swift and Roblyer have gained more than 1,400 yards.
“It’s nice to have that balanced attack because you don’t know which head of the snake you’re going to get,” Bates said. “You attack one side and we’re going to hit you on the other.”
Bates said the offense is designed after the one used by Irv Sigler, a legendary coach who built powerhouses at Cheboygan and Belding. And it is the only offense in town.
“We run it all the way through the program,” he said. “My 9-year-old in Rocket football is running the wing-T right now.”
The biggest surprises from district semifinals:
Division 1: White Lake Lakeland 23, Rochester Adams, 20, OT.
Division 2: Portage Northern 35, Portage Central 7.
Division 3: Trenton 22, Gibraltar Carlson 21.
Division 4: Chelsea 28, Grosse Ile 21.
Division 5: Hudsonville Unity Christian 41, Grand Rapids West Catholic 22.
Division 6: Millington 50, Ithaca 33.
Division 7: Cass City 32, Sandusky 28.
Division 8: Harbor Beach 26, Saginaw Nouvel 6.
Best on deck
These are the best district final games in each division.
Division 1: East Kentwood at Saline.
Division 2: Warren De La Salle at Oak Park.
Division 3: Grand Rapids Christian at Muskegon.
Division 4: Farmington Hills Harrison at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
Division 5: Lansing Catholic at Portland.
Division 6: Calumet at Traverse City St. Francis.
Division 7: Saugatuck at Pewamo-Westphalia.
Division 8: Ottawa Lake Whiteford at Reading.
Mick McCabe is a former longtime columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1
- High school football games to watch in Week 10
- High school volleyball playoff pairings: Bi-district round
- Texan Live's high school football schedule for Week 10
- Texan Live's high school football schedule for Week 5
- Houston-area high school football media poll: Week 10
- High school football: Class 6A stat leaders
- Texan Live's high school football schedule for Week 9
- High school football: Class 5A stats leaders through Week 9
- High school football: Class 6A stats leaders through Week 9
- Statewide high school football scores: Week 10