DETROIT – Dequan Finn has “it.”
It’s something special, something that goes beyond all the statistics and all the touchdowns. It’s something that has enabled the senior quarterback to guide Detroit King’s football team to another stellar season.
“It’s his moxie,” King coach Tyrone Spencer said of Finn. “You just see it.”
Finn will lead the Crusaders into a showdown against Detroit Cass Tech in the Public School League championship game on Friday night at Renaissance High School.
The matchup will pit two of the best teams in the state, and it will feature several college recruits.
Finn, who has committed to Central Michigan, is one of them.
He has guided King to a 7-1 overall record and a chance to defend their city title.
“First of all, it’s what he’s able to do before the ball is even snapped,” Spencer said. “He understands the game. He can throw the ball from the hash to the far side of the field. He can escape with his legs.
He’s faster than he looks.”
Finn has totaled 30 touchdowns passing and running this season, and he directs an offense that averages 42 points per game.
It’s his leadership -- Spencer calls him the team’s general -- that’s impressed his coach.
“I’m really pleased with what Finn has done off the field,” Spencer said. “He went from a kid who didn’t speak a lot to someone who’s become a lot more vocal."
Finn also has plenty of help.
Dominic Polidore-Hannah mans the slot, and King also relies on senior Jalen McGaughy and juniors Rashawn Williams and Lemuel Neely-Watley at wide receiver. All four are drawing interest from colleges.
“We can go empty with those guys,” Spencer said.
King also has a dangerous running game. Finn can make plays with his feet, and junior running back Peny Boone leads a deep backfield.
Junior offensive tackle Deondre Buford anchors the line.
“The offense is explosive,” Spencer said. “The defense is coming together at the right time.”
Senior Marvin Grant, a Purdue recruit, has moved from safety to linebacker to solidify the Crusaders’ defense.
“He can play whatever they want him to play,” Spencer said.
Other top players for the King defense are linebacker Rich Miller, a Buffalo commit; cornerback Ahmad Gardner, a Cincinnati recruit; defensive back Ray Williams, Youngstown commit; and sophomore strong safety Jalen Reed.
They will face a tough test against undefeated Cass Tech, which boasts its own share of top players led by senior running backs Jaren Mangham and Lew Nichols. Mangham has committed to Colorado, and Nichols is headed to Central Michigan.
“You’ve got to look at what they have in the backfield,” Spencer said. “They arguably have the toughest running back tandem in the state.”
The Technicians also have a two-way standout in quarterback and safety Jalen Graham. He sparks an offense that averages 41.25 points per game.
Cass Tech’s defense may be even better. The Technicians have allowed only 34 points all season, and they have posted five shutouts this season.
In addition to Graham, who has several college offers, outside linebacker Devin Nicholson (Eastern Michigan) and cornerback Kyron McKinnie Harper (Central Michigan) lead the defense.
King and Tech have a storied rivalry, and Spencer knows it inside and out. He was a player at King from 1999 through 2003.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s intense. It’s for everything. It’s for bragging rights in the city, it’s for bragging rights in the community.
“If you go to Cass, you don’t like King. If you go to King, you don’t like Cass.”
This is the fifth time in the last six years King and Cass Tech have faced off for the PSL title.
“Our kids are fired up to play in the championship against our rivals,” Spencer said.