MUSKEGON, MI — If you’re looking for the reasons behind Detroit Cass Tech’s 49-14 dominance over Muskegon last Friday at historic Hackley Stadium, there are several.
The Technicians were bigger and stronger. They were talented and fast. They executed extremely well.
The first place you should look, however, is at the top. Cass Tech’s freshman head coach, Marvin Rushing, was totally in control of his team. In a post-match interview, he tried to deflect credit from his assistant coaches and players, but the energetic rushing was clearly the tone for a well-schooled technical team.
“They said the team is an extension of the coach, so I’ve made a concerted effort to make sure I bring energy and make sure they’re ready to start, and s ‘they do, so based on how we’ve been training, I know we’ll be successful,’ Rushing said.
The stakes go up considerably this week. Cass Tech (2-0) pays a visit to arch-rival Detroit King (1-1) in a Friday showdown at 7 p.m. that will be televised live on Bally Sports Detroit, the same network that earned the technicians last week.
King is also coming off a stunning win in Week 2. The Crusaders beat Mona Shores, 40-19, handing the two-time defending Division 2 champions Sailors their first loss in their last 20 games.
Cass Tech vs. Muskegon, followed by Cass Tech vs. King: This is what high school football is all about, according to Rushing.
“It’s phenomenal. I mean, last year it hurt a bit (with the coronavirus pandemic and limited fans) even though we had the football. But that’s what high school football is,” Rushing said last Friday night at Hackley Stadium, where fans filled the stands and lined the brick wall at either end of the pitch.
“It’s a great atmosphere. It’s better than sometimes playing at Ford Field just with the atmosphere, the crowd, the band and the noise. I mean, to be honest, that’s what the high school football. I’d love to see Michigan (high school) football have a national platform. It’s a game that honestly, those type of games should be on ESPN. They should be broadcast nationally. We should have this opportunity to showcase our children on a national scale and I hope MHSAA will one day allow that to happen.
Rushing should know: He’s seen his share of top-flight football.
The 1993 Cass Tech alumni played quarterback for the Technicians under then-coach Thomas Wilcher, who became the program’s highly successful head coach.
Rushing continued his playing career at Eastern Michigan University. He has been coaching in the Cass Tech program since 2012 with his area of focus in the defensive backfield, particularly cornerbacks.
In July, Wilcher left Cass Tech to accept a position as director of community and high school relations at Michigan State University. Cass Tech turned to Rushing, first on an interim basis before the school decided to make it official for the 45-year-old.
Rushing said it had been a whirlwind, but he and his team operated as if Wilcher had never left.
In 24 seasons as the head coach of Cass Tech, Wilcher guided the Techs to three Division 1 state championships and a streak of 13 straight playoff appearances. Since 2010, the program has amassed a 120-21 record. Wilcher coached eight NFL draft picks while in charge of the technicians program.
“Coach has built a pattern here – we’re just following him,” Rushing said. “I mean, the coaches that I have here on staff, have all been here. We added two, three new coaches; other than that, it’s the same thing.
The list of coaches in the Cass Tech roster goes from page to page, it’s so long.
This long list includes: Dennis Parker (defensive coordinator), Nick Moran (defensive line), Cully Robinson (linebackers), Brandon Fariley (safeties), Tarrence Mathis (cornerbacks), Dave Malecki (offensive coordinator/quarterback), Dave Dawson (offensive line), Remele Penick (offensive line), Aaron Sumner (offensive line), Jason Coleman (offensive line/defensive line), Danny McCoy (tight ends/defensive, JV offensive coordinator), Gary Abernathy (running back), Rodney Cooper (running backs), Cash Caldwell (wide receivers/assistant offensive coordinator), Dwight Blakely (special teams), Rami Abousaleh (special teams coordinator/wide receivers), Durell Moore (assistant strength coach/quality control), Anthony Lacey (film/technology) and Kanye Gardner (football operations).
“I mean this: This coaching staff has been undervalued, undervalued in the state,” Rushing said. “I think some of the times we failed, we got a lot of flak about it, but I don’t think the state realizes how great the coaching staff is.
“It’s not my reflection. It’s the kids and our coaching staff. I’m sitting here a cheerleader. My coaches are phenomenal – they’re the reason we’re doing well right now.