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Cass Tech slips past Oak Park

By: Branden Hunter, August 30, 2014, 7:00 am

DETROIT – Former Detroit Cass Tech safety Kevin Scott yelled, "don’t call it a comeback", as the Technicians were driving the ball on Oak Park late in the game. But that’s exactly what it was. Cass Tech overcame a 13-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, to edge Oak Park 27-26 at the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.

"Our coaches really stepped up for us this game," said Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher. "We have a fairly young team, so we expected some adversity. But kept coaching, got our offensive line squared away, and we kept moving forward."

The biggest question facing Cass Tech coming into the game against Oak Park, was how effective sophomore quarterback Rodney Hall would be. Having to replace a three-year starter isn’t easy for any team, but Hall held how own. He was 11-18, for 166 yards, and one touchdown, and completed a 41-yard to junior Demetric Vance late, that help set up the winning touchdown.

"I think the most important thing was that our quarterback stood up," Wilcher said. "He saw passes down field, had a chance to scramble, had to a chance to read, and I thought that was a great job he did."

Cass Tech (1-0) needed Hall’s heroics down the stretch, because Oak Park dominated majority of the game, and could have went home the victors. Junior quarterback Chauncey Lowman, and wide receiver Varandre White connected on a 75-yard scoring play with 10:46 left in the second quarter, to give them the early 6-0 lead. Then senior running back John Kelly took over.

With the game tied at 6-6 early in the third, Kelly took a short pass from Lowman 53-yards for the score, to put them back up 12-6. He added another touchdown just before the end of the quarter, that gave the Knights the 19-6 lead, and at that point, it appeared as if the game was theirs to lose.

"I gave it my all," Kelly said. "I knew had to play my best game, going up against some good competition. They have a really good running back also in Mike Weber, and it was fun going up against him, but his team got the win."

Kelly finished with 139 yards on 26 carries, and three total touchdowns. But Weber, who is committed to Michigan, was just as productive on the night. He started off a bit slow, but once he broke threw for a 70-yard touchdown run early in the first half, there was no answer for him.

Weber finished with 142 yards, on 22 carries, and three touchdowns himself, including two scores in the final seven minutes and some change. Weber scored the go-ahead touchdown for Cass Tech with 2:16 left, on a 1-yard run, to complete the comeback.

"John Kelly has things that I don’t have, and I have things that John Kelly doesn’t have," said Weber. "I played a great game, and he played a great game, but we just came out with the win. 

"I knew coming in that I had to put the team on my shoulders, and I did. I knew it would be tough for me to get my yards, but once I get going, there’s no stopping me. I know that Jayru (Campbell), and everyone else is happy right now, and I will hold things down until he gets back."

If you were to ask Oak Park, they would say Cass Tech, and Weber played a great game, but so did they. The Knights had several opportunities to bury Cass Tech late, but every time they scored, the Technicians responded. It’s obviously a tough loss, but one they can learn from.

"I knew it would come down to the stretch, and they are a great team," said Oak Park head coach Greg Carter. "We blew a couple of coverages late, and we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.

"It’s too bad we didn’t make the necessary plays, but you have to give Cass Tech a lot of credit for coming back, and showing that they are a championship team."