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Published October 17, 2012

Clawson football team heads to East Detroit with simple goal in mind

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Leslie Perkinson (4), Steven Klein (20) and the Clawson football team can clinch a playoff spot in a road game at East Detroit Oct. 20.

CLAWSON — Tension turned to triumph, and the celebration began.

It had been a long night, a back-and-forth battle full of nerves, nail biting and close calls.

And then, with seconds left, Ty Sparks took a knee, pointed the ball skyward and made things official.

Clawson wins.

Now the Trojans must do it again.

“We’ll take 24 hours to enjoy this, then we’ll start planning,” Clawson coach Jim Sparks said following a 34-21 win against Mount Clemens High Oct. 12.

The win improved the Trojans to 5-3. Their regular-season finale is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at Eastpointe Memorial Park against East Detroit.

“We’ve felt since the start of the season that we were a team that could win a league title and make the playoffs,” Sparks continued. “The league thing isn’t going to happen, but this team believes it’s a playoff team. Now we have to go out and prove it.”

Mount Clemens got the scoring started on its opening drive, but Clawson answered with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter on a Ty Sparks 5-yard scoring pass to Marquian Johnson. Sparks and Johnson hooked up again in the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass, but the Battling Bathers took a 14-13 lead late in the second.

Clawson junior Steven Klein stole all the momentum, though, returning a punt 62 yards for a touchdown with just 33 seconds remaining in the first half.

Clawson led 20-14 at the break and never trailed again.

Ty Sparks hit Johnson with a 31-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the second half to extend the lead to 27-14.

Mount Clemens scored on a 59-yard run late in the third quarter, but a Clawson interception by Jake Sami near his own goal line, and then long drive by the Trojans was capped with a 7-yard touchdown run by Klein to put the game away and set up this weekend’s must-win against East Detroit.

“We know it’s cliché, but we’ve been in playoff mode since we lost that third game,” senior Marlin Harris said. “We’re looking forward to the (East Detroit) game. It doesn’t matter their record or anything, we’re going to treat them like any other team we’ve played.”

After starting the year with wins against Harper Woods High, Center Line High and New Haven High, Clawson dropped three straight to Marine City High, Clinton Township Clintondale and then St. Clair Shores South Lake.

The guys bounced back with a 17-14 double-overtime win against Warren Lincoln Oct. 5, setting up the chance to claim a third straight playoff berth this weekend.

“We’ve never played them, never been there and don’t know too much about East Detroit,” Jim Sparks said of the Shamrocks, who are 1-7.

Asked if he was concerned at all about his guys overlooking East Detroit, Sparks just laughed.

“That’s my job, to coach against that,” he said. “I mean, look at this game. Mount Clemens was 2-5, and they were in this one to the end. … We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

“We know what’s on the line,” Harris said bluntly. “To us, we’re a playoff team.”



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