WYANDOTTE - It wasn't pretty, and they almost gave it away in the final moments, but they got the job done anyways.
Detroit Martin Luther King narrowly defeated Wyandotte Roosevelt 6-0 on Friday night, in what was a defensive masterpiece by both teams from start to finish.
"They did a great job tonight staying after it," said King's head coach Dale Harvel after the game. "All night they were put in tough situations with field position, and I think my coaches did a great job coordinating the defense for this game."
For two teams that came in averaging 37.0, and 44.9 points per game respectively, King and Wyandotte Roosevelt only combined for six on the night. By far their lowest offensive outputs of the season.
King missed out on several opportunities throughout the game to increase their lead. An 18-yard rushing touchdown by RJ Mitchell was called back in the third, and the Crusaders fumbled a few plays later on the Wyandotte Roosevelt 3-yard line.
The lone score of the game came just before the half ended, and turned out to be all that King needed for the win. Senior quarterback James Speight found Pittsburgh commit Avonte Maddox streaking up the sideline wide open for a 35-yard touchdown.
"There is no better athlete in the state of Michigan than Avonte Maddox," Harvel said of his star player. "To show you what goes on, that kid never comes off the football field."
"He plays both sides of the ball, he plays special teams, and he has done an excellent job here at King high school."
For all of his heroics this season, Maddox almost made the biggest mistake of his career at King late in the 4th quarter. After forcing Wyandotte Roosevelt to punt on a 4th and 25 play deep in their own endzone, King was set to get the ball back up 6-0 with 3:07 remaining.
Wyandotte Roosevelt punted away to Maddox, who let the ball roll before trying to pick it up. He lost the ball after it bounced off his leg, and a gang of Wyandotte Roosevelt defenders tackled him, before recovering the ball on the 46-yard line.
"I don't know what I was thinking on that play," Maddox laughed. "It bounced on me, I touched it and got blasted."
After missing several opportunities earlier in the game, and King not capitalizing on it's chances either, the Bears had one more shot at a win, with great field position. On the second play of the drive, junior quarterback Donovan Stewart hit senior D'Aries Davis on a 31-yard passing play, placing the ball at the 15-yard line.
Wyandotte Roosevelt (11-1) would eventually move the ball to the King 5-yard line, facing a 3rd and goal with under a minute left. After Stewart's 3rd down pass to sophomore wide receiver Donnie Corley fell short in the endzone, Wyandotte Roosevelt had one last chance to pull out the victory.
Stewart took the snap on 4th and goal, and began to roll to his left to escape the duress of the King defense. He released the ball, but it sailed over the head of receiver Brandon Sowards and out the back of the endzone.
King escaped a near defeat to Wyandotte Roosevelt 6-0, and advances to the Division 2 state semifinals for the second time in three years.
"This win means a lot going into the semifinals," Maddox said. "We have to work harder, and play harder so we can get another dub."
After being presented the regional final trophy at the end of the game, Harvel tossed it to junior linebacker Tyriq Thompson, as if to say we haven't accomplished anything yet. King (10-1) will play the winner of the UofD Jesuit, and Brother Rice game set for today at 1 pm.