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King clamps down on Western offense, defeats the Warriors 18-0 in Division 2 final

By: Ben Szilagy, November 25, 2016, 7:49 pm

Detroit — Detroit King’s return to the Division 2 finals at Ford Field on Friday was a story better served for a screenplay.

After its head coach Dale Harvel died on July 22 of a heart attack, King was on a mission to repeat as state champions, and finished the script in perfect fashion.

Led by its defense, King defeated Walled Lake Western 18-0 to win back-to-back state titles for the first time in program history.

King defeated Lowell, 40-38, in last season’s final. Its first title came in 2007.

“I told our team we’d run a special forty-(yard dash) for coach Harvel. If he was still here he would have loved this moment,” senior defensive back-receiver Ambry Thomas said.

After the victory the entire King team ran to one end zone and then to another in celebration

Normally King (12-2) wears special uniforms honoring its late coach in big games. But the material stretches causing coach Tyrone Spencer to keep their traditional white jerseys and he knew from that moment that even though they couldn’t honor coach Harvel on their uniforms, he’d be honored through his team’s play.

King’s offense sputtered gaining only 158 total yards, including a 9-yard touchdown reception by Thomas from quarterback Dequan Finn for a 6-0 lead (kick was blocked) with 12 seconds left in the first half.

Western’s defense forced a turnover on the 4-yard line with 30 seconds left in the first quarter when Justin Thomas recovered a fumble.

With 3:31 left in the half Western again stopped King on the 4-yard line as a fourth down pass was incomplete.

Western (12-2) struggled to find any rhythm in its running or passing game. The Warriors averaged 42.5 points in their first four playoff games but managed just 124 yards against King.

It was the first time Western has been shutout since 2009 when it lost to White Lake Lakeland, 20-0.

Senior Jesse Scarber and junior Jae-Veyon Morton each returned an interception for a touchdown in the second half. Scarber’s went 56 yards; Morton 61.

“We put stress on our defense backs because we play great teams in the Public School League that are talented on the outside,” Spencer said. “But we’re good up front so it allows our kids to play the ball more free.

“But didn’t know we tied a record. Our kids just played to their ability.”

King’s two interception returns for touchdowns tied state record King set in 2007.

Both Scarber and Morton led the Crusaders in interceptions in the regular season with six apiece.

Coach Harvel preached that pressure is what you make it and coach Spencer said he never allowed that pressure to take away from this team’s goals.

“I tried not to think about it, once I found out I got the job,” he said. “I deactivated my social media, and got away from everybody just so I could give these kids the attention they deserve.

“You can’t let a situation get too big, and that’s what we did. It’s always about this program and winning a state championship for our community. These kids believed in our goal and continued to get better and now we’re champs.”