Stevenson football outlasts Cass Tech to win regional title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published November 15, 2019

 Photo by Sarah Purlee

Photo by Sarah Purlee

Sterling Heights Stevenson sophomore Jordan Ramsey recorded 97 total yards and had the game-clinching interception in the team's 9-7 Nov. 15 win over Detroit Cass Tech in a Division 1 regional final.

STERLING HEIGHTS — On what proved to be the game-winning touchdown Nov. 15 in Sterling Heights Stevenson’s 9-7 win over Detroit Cass Tech in a Division 1 regional final, junior wide receiver Dylan Kleinedler made a play from a position he’d manned earlier this season — quarterback.

Kleinedler, lined up outside to the left of the offensive line, caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage from sophomore quarterback Biagio Madonna before hitting sophomore running back Jordan Kwiatkowski in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 5:50 left in the third quarter for the final score of the game.

Kleinedler started three games at quarterback for the Titans before Madonna took over midway through the regular season. Stevenson coach Justin Newcomb, who in his second year has the team in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009, credited Kleinedler for his demeanor this season.

“A lot of guys, when they get moved to a new position, they look at it as a demotion,” Newcomb said following the win. “(Kleinedler) works hard and he wants a chance to contribute. He plays on defense. He plays wide receiver. He does whatever he can to help the team win and he did that again tonight.”

Stevenson (8-4) advances to face Davison High (10-2) in a state semifinal set for Nov. 23 at a time and site to be determined. The D-1 state title game is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 30 at Ford Field.

Kleinedler admits he initially lined up in the wrong spot on the play, forcing Newcomb to call a timeout. The Titans liked what they saw and decided to stay with the play.

“We thought that was a play we could have success with, so after the timeout, we decided to just stick with it,” Kleinedler said. “That was a big play. Everybody’s had confidence in me all season long. That means a lot to me.”

Cass Tech (7-5) had one last chance to steal the win, getting the ball at its own 37 with 1:40 left in regulation, but with no timeouts left. 

The Technicians, who entered the game with a 15-3 mark against schools from the Macomb Area Conference, got a big play on a 20-yard completion from senior quarterback Sebastian Brown to sophomore wide receiver Jameel Gardner that put the ball at the Stevenson 23-yard line with 14 seconds left. On the next play, Titans sophomore defensive back Jordan Ramsey, who started at quarterback the first two games of the season, sealed the win with an interception.

“I just watched the quarterback and stuck with my assignment,” said Ramsey, who notched 97 total yards of offense in the game from the running back spot. “When I saw the ball in the air, I knew we’d be battling to make a play and I came down with it.

“This is something we’ve worked so hard for — from the offseason to this point. It’s an indescribable feeling.”

Stevenson took a 3-0 lead on a 22-yard field goal from senior kicker Zach Imms with 3:15 left the first quarter.

Cass Tech, which has won three state titles since 2011, got its only points of the game on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brown to sophomore wide receiver Nathaniel Brigg with 21.5 seconds left in the first half.

The Titans defense was huge in the game. Stevenson made a goal-line stand halfway through the second quarter, keeping the Technicians out of the end zone and off the scoreboard after the team had first and goal at the Stevenson 3-yard line, set up by a 57-yard run from Cass Tech senior running back Donny Scott, who finished with 133 yards on the ground. An outside run by Technicians junior running back Kobe King from the Stevenson 1-yard line was snuffed out on fourth and goal, preserving what was then a 3-0 Titans edge.

Ramsey chased Scott down on the 57-yard run. Newcomb credited the sophomore for his hustle on the play.

The Stevenson defense in the game forced four turnovers, while not committing any. The Titans played a clean game, drawing just four penalties. Cass Tech was flagged for 11 penalties.

“Discipline is a big part of the game. Our kids have to learn that,” Technicians coach Thomas Wilcher said. “We made some mistakes tonight. If we clean them up, then we can be successful. Credit to Stevenson — that’s a good, well-coached team.”

Newcomb said his team had a great week of preparation coming into the game. He said he believed Cass Tech would try to punish the Stevenson defense with its run game. The Technicians finished with 139 yards on the ground.

“We made the plays when he needed to," Newcomb said. "This team has worked really hard to get to this point.”