Tyrone Spencer, seventh season (65-14)
PAST 3 SEASONS
2021: 13-1, 5-0 in Detroit Public 1
2020: 6-4, 3-0 in Detroit Public 2
2019: 11-3. 4-0 in Detroit Public 2
KEY PLAYERS DEPARTED
NG/DT Terence Maize
DT Imani Dowdell
MLB Blake Bailiff
OLB Cashaun Ricks
WR Raiquawn Evans
WR Joseph Williams
WR Lynn Wyche-El
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Dante Moore
Moore is Sports Illustrated's top-ranked player for the upcoming season for a reason. The five-star’s talent is undeniable. Many people thought he would stay home for his college commitment and go to Michigan, but he opted to go west and commit to Oregon, citing the scheme fit. Spencer said that now that he’s picked a school, it’s given him the opportunity to focus on the team and be a great leader. “It gives him a chance to really just be all about football now and put the business stuff behind him right now as he prepares for his senior year.”
RB Sterling Anderson
Anderson is a huge receiving threat out of the backfield. Spencer called him “shifty.” “I like the way he’s been for us this offseason,” he said. “He’s an every-down back and he’s fast.”
CB Jameel Croft
Croft is a four-year starter. Spencer raved about his playmaking ability. “He’s played a lot of meaningful football for us. He’s a playmaker on that side of the ball.”
OLB Kenny Merrieweather
Merrieweather is an impact pass rusher for the Crusaders. He’s also very versatile. Spencer said they plan on moving him around the defensive line. “He’s a really great athlete who’s been dominant versus the run game in addition to his pass rushing ability,” Spencer said. “We’re really excited about him and what he brings. The attitude that he brings to the defense is what we're going to need.”
Martin Luther King has won three state championships since Spencer took over the program in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped it from bouncing in between divisions. The Crusaders have gone back and forth from Division 2 and Division 3 the past few years. They were going to drop to Division 4 for the upcoming season, but the program appealed the decision and won, so they will stay in Division 3.
Going into fall camp, Spencer said the strength of the team will most likely be the offensive line.
“We have four guys that come back on the offensive line with experience,” Spencer said. “Which would mean that our run game should be really good. Pass protection should be pretty solid, giving [Moore] enough time to make accurate decisions.”
The offensive line isn’t the only area of the team with a lot of experience. MLK has a lot of returning starters all throughout the roster.
“We have we got a lot of guys back on defense,” Spencer said. “I think about seven or eight guys that played or have starting experience. On offense we have about five guys that have starting experience, so we got a decent number of guys that come back.”
MLK plays in the gauntlet that is the Detroit Public 1 conference, which includes schools such as Mumford, Ford and juggernaut Cass Tech. Despite dominating the league in recent years, the Crusaders will have to find a way to maintain their winning ways.
“We lost Terence Maize to graduation. He was one of the biggest factors and reasons why we won (the state title). He was a really good leader for us and held everybody accountable. So if we have that leadership amongst everybody—defensively, offensively, in the locker room— I think we can (repeat). So I think leadership would be the key for us.”- Tyrone Spencer