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Wilkes scores 5 TDs, as Denby runs past Osborn, sewing up berth in PSL B championship

By: Matthew B. Mowery, October 14, 2018, 12:15 am

DETROIT — T’Shawn Wilkes doesn’t say much.

Generally, the humble, soft-spoken Detroit Denby senior running back would prefer to let his play do the talking.

And THAT speaks loud and clear.

“He’s a special player. Great to have a kid like that on your team. He’s a home-run hitter. He’s a great kid, too, so kids gravitate to his leadership with his play,” Denby coach Tony Blankenship said. “He’s not a very talkative kid, but he just goes out there plays at a high level. Again, glad to have him.”

Even with the Detroit Osborn defense geared up to stop him, Wilkes ran for 168 yards and five touchdowns on 15 carries, leading the Tars to a 46-24 win over the Knights in Saturday’s Detroit Public School League playoff B semifinal.

“He’s a great player. We game-planned for him all week. We knew he was going to get his, and our whole thing was that we knew we weren’t going to stop him. We just wanted to try to contain him, do what we needed to do, wrap up,” Osborn coach Marlon Baker said. “They did a great job of blocking, had great schemes. He’s a superstar, great player.”

Denby (6-2) will face Detroit Cody (6-2) in the B championship game at Detroit Renaissance on Friday at 5 p.m. The Tars were in last year’s B title game as well, losing 40-0 to Detroit Central.

Saturday’s semifinal at Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern was not that lopsided, at least at first.

Early on, the Tars tried a fake punt inside their own 40, turning it over on downs at the 33 when the pass came up short. Osborn needed just one play to turn it into a touchdown, when Isiah Watts hit Mehki Brown on an out-and-up pattern for the score.

Two Wilkes runs later, though, and the Tars tied it up at 6-6, then took an 8-6 lead, when Wilkes ran in the 2-point conversion.

Josiah Lewis’ 55-yard punt return for a score gave Osborn a 12-8 lead, but the next two scores — both Wilkes runs, of 15 and 2 yards — went to the Tars, allowing them to start to pull away.

The second one came on a short field, after the Knights muffed the kickoff, giving Denby the ball at the Osborn 34.

“Yeah, momentum definitely changed,” Baker said of the play. “It seemed like we could never turn the corner after that. We kind of played mistake-free football in the first half, but in the second half, just couldn’t get it done.”

Blankenship agreed.

“We felt like that was a game-changer for us. They were doing a really good job of staying intense … and high school football is all about momentum,” Denby’s coach said. “When we were able to get that turnover, we were able to get up two scores, and that makes things a little bit easier.”

The PSL Gold Division champion Knights answered with another connection between Brown and Watts — who threw for 312 yards and rushed for 68 yards — for a 56-yard score to make it 24-18 Denby at the half.

But the second half was almost all Tars.

Wilkes scored on runs of 4 and 54 yards to make it 38-18.

“We started off slow, but in the second half, picked it up. I started off slow,” Wilkes said. “My line blocked really well. I read the blocks, and got it done.”

Then, after a 2-yard run on a quarterback sneak by Lewis — quarterback Taivyon Buck scored on a 6-yard option keeper and thew the 2-point conversion to Adrian Brown to close out the scoring.