20 YEARS OF STATE CHAMPS! 20 STATE CHAMPIONS SERIES: 2011 DETROIT CASS TECH
Detroit — In a matter of a few hours, the Detroit Cass Tech football program went from a team trying to win its first state title to a bonafide national power.
That long-awaited 2011 crowning cemented Cass Tech as a championship brand and college-recruiting paradise, reputations the program still proudly maintains more than a decade later.
The Technicians and their freshman phenom quarterback Jayru Campbell trounced Detroit Catholic Central 49-13 in the 2011 Division 1 state finals. Campbell threw for 240 yards and a state-championship game record 5 touchdowns to become the first ninth grader to start under center and win a D1 state title in MHSAA history.
“I’m thankful more than anything (of the opportunity to be the team’s starting signal caller),” said Campbell following the victory. “We were all business. We weren’t messing around, We were serious and we played some seriously great football.”
Cass Tech went 11-3 that year. The only blemishes on the Technicians record came in the season opener to Farmington Hills Harrison and then twice to Detroit Crocket, once in its PSL league schedule and once in the PSL championship game.
Senior captain Royce Jenkins-Stone anchored Cass Tech’s defense from his middle linebacker spot and its backfield on offense as a bruising power back. Future NFL defensive backs Delano Hill (Seattle Seahawks) and Jourdan Lewis (Dallas Cowboys) headlined the secondary.
The state championship-game onslaught started with Jenkins-Stone’s 32-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. His 36-yard interception return for a touchdown in the game’s final frame was the cherry on top of the championship sundae, placing the score at 49-7 with ten minutes to play.
Ford Field in downtown Detroit was a raucous scene, as Technicians’ fans danced in the stands celebrating the coming coronation. The Thomas Wilcher-helmed CT dynasty had begun.
“We’re all family, this team, this city, we are one,” Campbell said. “This was for the city of Detroit.”
Jenkins-Stone also caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Campbell in the third quarter of the finals. Lewis, Terry Richardson, Ruben Lile each added touchdown grabs in the contest. Hill charted a game-high 8 tackles from free safety. Richardson, Hill, Jenkins-Stone and Lewis all played in college at the University of Michigan. Lile played at Iowa.
Campbell led Cass Tech to another state crown in 2012. He committed to Michigan State but had his route to Division I college football derailed by legal issues before emerging as a superstar in the Division II ranks at Ferris State, taking the Bulldogs to the 2018 DII National Championship Game.and collecting DII National Player of the Year honors.
After 23 seasons lifting the Technicians to heights never before achieved, Thomas Wilcher left Cass Tech last year for an assistant job at Michigan State. Wilcher won three state titles at the high school level, all at CT (2011, 2012, 2016).
“We worked very hard to get here and we’ll be here tomorrow, too, we aren’t leaving this party,” said Wilcher in the minutes after the 2011finals of his intention to keep Cass Tech in a championship mindset going forward,
Wilcher’s words proved prophetic. Wilcher’s legacy in the PSL and the MHSAA is behemoth.