Detroit King football coach Dale Harvel paced back and forth in athletic director Barry Cannon’s office late Monday afternoon, shaking his head.
“This is not right,” Harvel mumbled. “This is craziness, man.”
Detroit Cass Tech, which lost to King, 31-28, in overtime in Week 5, has been awarded a forfeit victory in Friday’s scheduled Public School League Division I championship game because the King players participated in a brawl following its 20-2 semifinal victory over Cody last Friday.
The decision was made by Alvin Ward, director of athletics for the PSL, who was at the semifinal game. Ward said he believes this will be the first time a PSL championship game will not be played.
The PSL Division II championship game between Detroit Northwestern and Detroit Central will be played at 6 p.m. Friday at Ford Field.
Ward also ruled that Cody will not be permitted to play a game this week, and Cody coach Calvin Norman and his entire staff have been placed on indefinite suspension. Norman did not return calls made by the Free Press.
King, which was 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in Division 2, will be permitted to compete in the state playoffs, but the football players from both schools have been suspended from school for three days and King will not be allowed to participate in a 2016 preseason scrimmage.
“Short of just taking off and running to the bus, I don’t know what else we could have done,” Cannon said. “We got penalized, I guess, for not running to the bus.”
Harvel doesn’t deny there was a fight, but he insists that his players simply reacted to what the Cody players initiated.
“We didn’t charge across that field at Cody,” Harvel said.
King had just scored with less than two minutes left in the semifinal game when a Cody player slapped the ball out of the hands of King’s center before the extra-point attempt.
The officials stopped the game and spoke to the coaches of both teams. That is when Harvel made the decision not to allow his players to shake hands after the game.
“There was chirping, stuff was going on,” Harvel said. “I go to my team and told them they had everything to lose, nothing to gain. If you get put out of here, you’re out next week.”
When the game ended, Harvel and his coaches shook hands with the Cody coaches. Cannon said that Norman insisted his players shake hands with the King players and sent them to the King sideline.
That is when a Cody player sucker-punched a King player, according to Harvel.
“And then it’s on,” Harvel said.
Ward agreed that is what transpired, but the reason for the forfeiture, he said, was what happened after the initial punch.
Detroit Public School’s security force needed to use pepper spray to break up the melee.
“You didn’t see the aftermath, I did,” Ward said while attending the PSL cross country championships on Belle Isle. “It wasn’t just a little scuffle. It wasn’t; it was serious. (King) reacted, but in my mind it was an overreaction. It never ended. It didn’t end and that was the part that was ugly. Somebody could have gotten seriously hurt.
“In my mind you can’t represent the district with that kind of behavior. That’s where I am.”
Harvel said there was almost an incident after King beat Cody, 34-0, on Oct. 2 at Cody, claiming the Cody players surrounded the King bus before it left.
That is part of the reason Harvel didn’t want his players shaking hands after the game.
“When you put everything in play, you get the feel this is getting to be one of them nights,” he said. “I’ve been in this league too long, so I say we’re not going to do this.”
The King players, Harvel said, were despondent after learning they will not be permitted to play Cass Tech in Ford Field.
“They’re tore up,” he said. “From the end of last season to now, this is what you work for. You’re first goal is win your league. Your next league is to advance in the state tournament.’’
Mick McCabe’s week 8 high school football rankings
Vote now: High school football Super 10
Recruiting: MSU, U-M vie for King’s Corley