There will be a Division I Detroit Public Schools League championship football game between King and Cass Tech on Friday night at Ford Field, after all.
One day after declaring the championship game between King and Cass Tech a forfeit victory for Cass Tech, DPS emergency manager Darnell Earley ruled that King will be allowed to play Cass Tech at 7 p.m. Friday at Ford Field for the Public School League’s Division 1 championship.
Unbeaten King, ranked No. 1 in Division 2 in the state, had been suspended Monday by PSL director of athletics Alvin Ward, following a postgame brawl at its 20-2 semifinal win over Detroit Cody last Friday.
King parents, coaches and players met with Earley this morning at the Fisher Building and pleaded their case. Earley then issued a statement saying the game was back on.
The Cass-King game will follow the 4 p.m. Division II championship game between Northwestern and Central.
King defeated Cass Tech, 31-28 in overtime, in Week 5.
Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher is pleased to be coaching a game this week but also had some concerns about all that transpired.
“I think that it’s a bittersweet thing,’’ he said. “The parents got what they want, but at what cost, that’s the only problem. I think Detroit Public Schools are trying to make sure we get things right.’’
Although King (8-0) will be permitted to play in the title game, not all of its players may be available.
In a statement explaining his reason for allowing the game, Earley said: “I do, however, strongly believe that there must be some accountability and repercussions felt by those involved for their actions. We are identifying the aggressors from both teams who initiated the fight that took place after the Division semifinal game on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. The King players will be suspended from play in Friday’s championship game, and Cody players will be prohibited from playing the first game of the 2016-17 school year.”
Earley endorsed Ward’s decision to not permit Cody to play a game this week and placed the entire coaching staff on indefinite suspension.
Both schools also will forfeit its 2016 preseason scrimmage and Earley said that players from both schools will be required to participate in the district’s Restroative Practices behavior intervention and perform a “substantial” amount of community service.
The melee erupted when Cody coach Calvin Norman took his players to the King sidelines to shake hands after the game. King coach Dale Harvel, sensing trouble in the waning moments of the game, instructed his players to remain on the sideline and not shake hands.
According to Harvel, a Cody player sucker-punched a King player and a wild altercation ensued. DPS security people needed pepper spray to break up the fight.
Harvel insisted his players were merely defending themselves when they were attacked by the Cody players, but Ward ruled it was an overreaction.
In allowing King to play, Earley said: “A key factor in my decision was the fact that the King High School coaches took full responsibility for the actions of the players and will be rededicating themselves to ensuring that their players understand the important role good sportsmanship plays not just in high school, but life.”
Harvel was relieved to be able to return to practice today and prepare for a game this week.
“I’ve got to get these kids refocused, re-wired to what we’ve got to do,’’ he said. “I’ve got to get these things recharged.’’
Wilcher said his Cass players are looking forward defending their championship.
“We get an opportunity to play a game that the kids look forward to playing all year long,’’ he said. “And the kids get an opportunity to keep that tradition going — taking that walk, having that Thursday night dinner. It’s unfortunate under the circumstances where we’re at, but hey, my job is to coach and my job is to put a team on the field.’’
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.