Cass Tech took down Churchill 35-6 in the first round of the playoffs. Churchill, the home team, had a good season, but Cass' speed and athleticism was simply too much as the Technician defense swarmed and contained Churchill's top playmakers.
Leading the way for Cass was four-star linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone, a Michigan commitment. He was all over the field, finishing well into double digits in tackles, recording a sack and an interception. For good measure, he chipped in a rushing touchdown. He is excellent in space and has great closing speed. When he's in attack mode, he finds the ball and gets to it quickly. He's best when moving forward on the blitz and allowed to roam free. Occasionally, his aggressiveness will get the best of him and he'll overrun some plays. When he gets to the ball carrier, he's a powerful tackler. How quickly he learns the defense and catches on to the mental side of things will determine how quickly he plays at Michigan. Physically, he has it all and his speed gives him a chance to be a three down player early on because he can cover as well as blitz.
Fellow four-star Terry Richardson tried to play on a hurt ankle, but was very limited. He finished with two receptions on offense.
Stepping up in his absence was junior cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Lewis had five receptions on offense and an interception and several pass breakups on defense. He was put on Churchill's top receiver, Jaylin Freeman and did a great job limiting him to just one catch. Lewis is quick, athletic and has great feet. Despite being only 5'8, he went high to win jump balls with the 6'3 Freeman. He did come up and get in on some tackles, but being physical and getting stronger are the parts of his game he needs to continue to improve on. As a pure cover guy though, he's very good and could pay slot receiver in college as well. Freeman, despite the tough night, is a kid we expect to play at the D2 level.
The Iowa commitments had strong showings. Laron Taylor was active and physical, sticking his nose in and plugging up a couple of inside runs. He also showed his coverage ability as he ran downfield with a Churchill running back on a wheel route and batted the pass away. Ruben Lile was quiet on defense, where he expect him to line up in college, but on offense, he had two grabs for 70 yards and a touchdown. For a big kid (6'2, 200), he runs well and made plays after the catch. The Hawks are getting a good athlete with him.
Two seniors on the D-Line, Louis Palmer and Darryl Goldsmith also had good games, holding Churchill's top back to only 29 yards. Palmer had a nice tackle for loss and Goldsmith plugged things up in the middle. Linebacker Brandon Berry is a good athlete and is aggressive, but had a quiet game. Buffalo commit William Rembert chipped in a couple tackles on defense.
Cass' juniors on defense performed well. Defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs was injured, but toughed through it and made some big plays. His two "wow" plays were when he knifed through the backfield and dropped the ball carrier for a big loss. He also, on offense, drove a Churchill player to the sideline on a run play. He's a great player. At 6'2, 280-lbs, he is only of average size, but I really like his game. Safety Delano Hill is a 6'1, 185-lb junior that is physical in run support. I think he's a D1 guy as well. Offensive tackle Dennis Finley is raw, but his a great frame at 6'7, 285-lbs and is playing with much more confidence than I saw from him early in the year. He
The sophomore class is talented as well. Deon Drake, in his first game playing running back, rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns. I think he's a future linebacker in college and he's played there this season, but what's not up for debate is that he's a 6'2, 215-lb sophomore that can run. He's a great athlete. William White is a thick, strong linebacker that did a nice job containing the edges and making plays in the backfield.
Cass also has two freshmen to pay attention to. Quarterback Jayru Campbell was efficient, completing 10 of 13 passes and one touchdown. He had an interception on a bad read that was a freshman mistake, but those have been few and far between for him this year. He's 6'3, has a great arm that will only get stronger as he adds weight and he's very mature. I like his prospects for the future. Defensive tackle Keith Jones is also impressive for being so young. He plays hard, and is already strong for his age. He's also one to watch.
Churchill running back Romello Brown was a junior I wanted to see. He was held in check, but I still like the 5'10, 235-lber's potential. He's strong and doesn't go down on first contact. He also catches the ball well. Sophomore defensive end Charles Yost is a 6'5, 210-lb youngster that had a good game. He had an interception and a few tackles. he's one to watch.