Detroit Cass Tech has made a habit of starting each football season by matching up with an opponent that is slated to be among the state’s best. Sunday was no different, as the Technicians squared off with Oak Park in the Prep Kickoff Classic Sunday at Wayne State. The Knights are being led this year 2019 quarterback standout Dwan Mathis. The rising signal caller showed flashes of his big time potential with two long touchdown strikes in the first half.
"They were successful (in the passing game) because they took advantage of the weak areas in the defense,” said Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher. “We just had to make adjustments. That's all.”
The Technicians headman turned to his senior safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell for that defensive adjustment, moving him over to cornerback.
Said Wilcher, "that's something we've got to do... we've got to try to figure out how to get the best guys in the best positions so we can get control of the game,” said Wilcher.
It’s a switch he’s not afraid to make because of Kelly-Powell’s unique versatility.
"He moves around. He is the only one that knows the defense well enough to move around. He is like a person that goes from spot to spot to spot. He's just got to do that.”
The move helped cool Mathis down after his hot start. He finished the game 10/24 for 238 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
While Oak Park’s quarterback play degraded as the day went on, Cass Tech’s improved behind the dual efforts of Rodney Hall and Aaron Jackson. The decision to play both signal callers was made on the fly.
"It's not THE plan, but it is A plan because we've got to get control of the game,” said Wilcher. “We've got to make sure we're getting things done the way we want them done. That's it.”
That offensive success came mostly through the air with one of the nation’s best on the receiving end in highly touted wideout, Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Despite not being fully healed from his hamstring injury, he still went out and ran by defensive backs with relative ease. The talented wideout finished with three receptions for just 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns on grabs of 37 yards and 58 yards respectively.
"That was his job,” said Coach Wilcher. “He did his job. He played how he was supposed to play. He was ready to play, was ready go, did his job. I'm real happy about that.”
Moving forward Wilcher plans to keep a very close eye on his star's health.
"We're going to monitor him. We want him 100% healthy. Once he gets 100% he'll be alright."
The other offensive spark came from sophomore running back Jaron Mangham. The 6-2, 210-pounder has already picked up five Power Five offers, and showed why with some tough running and flashing receiving skills out of the backfield (he had an 11-yard touchdown reception).
“Whenever I got the ball, I was like I’m going to get in the endzone,” Mangahm said. “I got to end the game for my team, so whenever I got the ball and I saw people coming, I just knew they aren’t stopping me.”
Cass Tech (1-0) will now travel to Edison Academy on Friday while Oak Park (0-1) will look to pick-up that first victory at Birmingham Groves.
Sam Webb contributed to this story.