BURNSTEIN COLUMN: Cass Tech shoots to the stratosphere on the prep gridiron, catapults itself on national stage
DETROIT – In a mere two years, Detroit Cass Tech has gone from arguably the best prep football team in the PSL to one of the best prep football teams in all of America.
The ascension has been meteoric, to say the least.
Head coach Thomas Wilcher and his Cass Tech Technicians, the two-time defending Division 1 state-champions, enter the 2013 campaign ranked the country’s No. 2 overall team on the high school gridiron.
When the 2011 season opened exactly two years ago this week, no team from the PSL had ever won a Division 1 state title, let alone snatched a pair or dotted the national rankings.
And that’s saying quite a bit, considering the PSL has a rich football history.
The rapid rate at which Cass Tech’s program has grown is something this state has never seen before. The Technicians’ accumulation of elite talent in the last couple of years is absolutely astounding
Wilcher’s team has turned into a mammoth blue-chip assembly line in less than 24 months.
We’re talking about a record-breaking amount of playmakers in the same locker room, here – territory busting at the seams with scholarship offers.
Cass Tech’s 2012 state-title winning club has already placed more than a dozen players at Division I college schools and will probably end up with more than 20 contributors to its most-recent ring-run in uniform at the Division I level when it’s all said and done.
Those are the gaudiest recruiting numbers in MHSAA history.
Let’s look at some of the critical factors that went into creating the big green monster that is this potential prep pigskin dynasty at Cass Tech.
First, the Technicians have without question benefited from the closing of almost half of the traditional PSL schools in the last decade due to the city’s economic crisis, a phenomenon that aided in the tilting of the power-balance by simply providing a vaster student-base to choose from as a result of the influx of students coming in from recently-shuttered schools.
Secondly, Cass Tech has a great head coach in Wilcher, a Michigan football alum and Bo Schembechler disciple, and Wilcher employs an excellent staff that collectively mentors and takes an authentic interest in the members of the team both on and off the field.
The continued success of the city’s PAL community, which has acted as a feeder to the program for years is another reason for the Technicians bountiful harvest in between the lines lately.
There have been those that speculate that the school has loosened admission restrictions; Cass Tech has always required the passing of a test to receive admittance. I suspect that’s most likely true, however, these allegations have never been substantiated and remain pure conjecture.
Whatever the reason for Wilcher and the Technicians rise to country-wide prominence, one thing I can say with confidence is that they won’t be venturing far from that positioning any time in the near future.