No. 1 Cass Tech runs over Renaissance, gets PSL playoff rematch with King in next week’s title game
DETROIT — Top-ranked Cass Tech’s three-headed rushing monster — Lew Nichols, Jaren Mangham and Jordan Lowe — paused to pose for a picture together at midfield after the end of Saturday’s Detroit Public School League A semifinal against Detroit Renaissance.
It was the only time all day anyone was able to stop any of the three of them.
The three seniors combined for 243 yards and five touchdowns, as the Technicians (8-0) beat Renaissance, 40-0, to earn a spot in next week’s PSL title game.
For the Technicians, it’s a very, very much anticipated rematch of last year’s semifinals, when they lost, 17-7, to the Crusaders.
“Yeah. For the past two, three weeks, we’ve been working really hard at practice, and playing every game like we’re just getting ready to King,” Nichols said. “We wanted everybody to play hard, everybody to stay healthy, and get ready for King.”
Just the kids?
“We’ve all been waiting,” Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said with a chuckle.
In order to get there, the Technicians had to take care of business against a Renaissance team that finished second behind King in the Black Division (5-3, 4-1).
They managed the part on the scoreboard, posting their fifth shutout in six weeks, but the focus part — well, they combined with the Phoenix to commit 25 penalties in what was, at times, a ragged, flag-filled game.
“Well, I guess you could see today, it was a little bit unfocused,” Wilcher agreed. “But I think we’re going to get it on the same page, get it going.”
It didn’t take long for Cass Tech to get it going, as they scored on their opening drive of the game — a 55-yard, eight-play affair — and twice scored on one-play drives after Renaissance turnovers, along with an 83-yard pick-six by Ormondell Dingle on one of his two interceptions in the game.
“We’ve just gotta get bigger, stronger, faster, more knowledgeable of the game, to be able to capitalize on opportunities when they’re presented to us,” Renaissance coach Drake Wilkins said. “If you take a good team like Cass, and give them a chance, they’re going to make you pay for it. We’re going through growing pains right now.”
After Nichols got the Technicians on the board with a 2-yard plunge on the first drive, it was Lowe’s turn to hit paydirt, as he followed a fumble on the kickoff into a 53-yard touchdown, stepping through a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and pulling away from pursuit.
“He’s got a burst, he’s fast. He popped up on our 4×100 relay, also. Very quick kid. Strong. One of the strongest kids on the team, also. He’s probably got the most touchdowns per carry. I’ll tell you that much right now,” Wilcher said. “He’s a great kid, great parents. Great athlete. Just want to keep getting these kids on the field. We’ve got a lot of seniors, and we want to make sure we get everybody a chance to play. He’s been playing every game, and he’s been doing a great job.”
The Technicians ran for 273 yards, led by Lowe’s 134 on just five carries. He also scored the final touchdown of the day on a 54-yard burst up the middle.
“Jordan’s a phenomenal running back,” Nichols said. “He’s got the size, the speed, he hits the hole hard. He just needed an opportunity to show what he could do, and obviously he got that today.”
Mangham had the other two touchdowns, scoring on back-to-back touches in the third quarter.
The rest just came down to the defense stifling the Phoenix, holding them to 40 rushing yards on 23 carries. Renaissance quarterback RaeQuan Beal had 62 yards on 8 of 22 passing.
“I’m a realist,” Wilkins said. “This isn’t my year — I expected to do what we’re going to do next year. We’re a year away, but we’re still competing. But when you play against teams like Grosse Pointe South, King, Cass — you’re going against some of the better teams in the state. We’re not at that level yet. That’s why you see us play a quarter-and-a-half or a half or whatever, and then it’s all downhill after that.”