Muddy track doesn’t slow King down, as Finn accounts for 6 TDs in 54-15 regional final win over Allen Park
ALLEN PARK — When he got to Allen Park’s Marc Egland Field Friday night, it was exactly how Detroit King head coach Tyrone Spencer remembered it.
And just what he expected, as well.
Standing water on the verges. Muddy sidelines. Chewed-up quagmire between the hashes, from the 10-yard line in.
“I was the defensive coordinator here in 2011 when we played, and I remember how the field was, and it just brought back memories,” Spencer said. “But we played Warren Woods-Tower (in the district finals) in the same conditions. I told these guys on Monday, ‘It’s going to be cold and nasty on Friday. Get your mind prepared.’ They did, and I’m just proud of the mental capacity that they had, and were able to fight through the conditions and come out victorious.”
The soggy field conditions — along with a bitter wind, and an occasional wisp of snow — did nothing to slow down the Crusaders, as they scored on six straight possessions to build a 40-7 halftime lead, and cruise to a 54-15 win over the host Jaguars in Friday’s Division 3 regional championship game.
It’s a fourth straight regional title for King, seventh in the last 12 seasons, and 10th in school history.
King (10-2) advances to next week’s semifinals, against the winner of Saturday’s DeWitt-Farmington regional final.
The muddy track did nothing to slow down King quarterback Dequan Finn, who accounted for 228 total yards and six touchdowns, ripping off a 75-yard scoring run on his first carry.
“It was kinda equal (for the offense and defense). We knew the field was going to be like this, so we just had to adapt to it pretty early,” Finn said, noting that the key was not to try to make drastic cuts in the mud. “It was really just take short and choppy footsteps, really.”
Finn’s big run — which went with scoring runs of 1, 44 and 1 yards, and 127 rushing yards on seven carries — came one play after the King defense force a three-and-out from the Jaguars (9-3) after the Crusaders had fumbled the ball on their third offensive snap.
“Like coach always says, let it go, let the negative play go. We weren’t thinking about that at all. I wasn’t harsh on him, I just picked my running back up, and said ‘We’ll get them next drive.’ And we just executed,” Finn said. “That gave us huge confidence that we can raise the tempo. That just raised our confidence even more, gave the team a lot of energy.”
It took King just two plays to punch it in on its third drive, with Peny Boone capping it with a 7-yard scoring run for a 14-0 lead.
Finn’s second TD run on the Crusaders’ fourth drive made it 21-0, then he hit Ahmad Gardner with a 25-yard scoring pass on a one-play drive, set up by stuffing Allen Park on a fake punt attempt.
The Jaguars responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Emilio Balderas, and tried an onside kick, but King recovered and took just two plays — the second a 44-yard run by Finn where he slipped coming out of the backfield, before regaining his footing and scooting the rest of the way for the score — to respond.
A 49-yard punt return by Dominick Polidore-Hannah down to the 1 set up Finn’s final scoring run, a 1-yard scamper that he salvaged from a broken play that made it 40-7 at the half.
“Sometimes, stuff goes your way, the ball just bounces your way,” Spencer said. “It did, and we tried to capitalize off of it.”
Finn threw a post pattern to Gardner that turned into a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown to make it 47-7, then the two teams swapped fourth-quarter touchdowns under running-clock conditions. Balderas scored from 4 yards out, then the Jaguars added the 2-point conversion to make it 47-15, but the King second-string offense drove it 61 yards, with Lorenzo White Jr. scoring on a 2-yard run with 3:28 to go to provide the final margin of victory.
While the Crusaders were without talented wideout RaShawn Williams — who missed the game with “personal stuff,” according to Spencer — the Jaguars were playing without their top rusher, Nico Tiberia, who missed the game with injury.
Yeah, he rolled his ankle on Tuesday. That didn’t help at all,” Allen Park coach Tom Danosky said. “We knew we were probably outmanned tonight, and I thought the kids did a pretty good job in the second half of competing. … They’re a great football team, and they’re probably going to make a nice little run here. We’ve come so far since Week 1, and nobody expected us to be here, except the guys here. I’m proud of them.”