Detroit Martin Luther King High school is the only Public School League (PSL) team to win a Michigan State Football championship.
With the retirement of legendary coach Jim Reynolds because of health concerns, many wondered if the Crusaders would be able stay at the top of the PSL standings.
No need to worry. In the 2009 season MLK won the PSL Class A title under Dale Harvel with a 19-17 victory over Cody.
Leading the way was running back Dennis Norfleet, who made the Michigan Chronicle All-PSL team last year as an underclassman. As the 2010 season commenced, Norfleet was honored as the PSL Scholar-Athlete of the Week.
In an interview he said his his favorite subject fits right in step with his football exploits: “I like math because I like working with big numbers.”
Who would not like to look at numbers when one racks them up like Norfleet? The 5’ 8”, 175-pound tailback tore the roof off the stadium as he carried the ball 30 times for 254 yards and five touchdowns in the Crusaders’ 32-19 victory against Birmingham Brother Rice in the 2010 season opener for both teams.
Norfleet’s performance, which included a two-point conversion run, earned him recognition as the Detroit Public School League’s first Proud, Strong, Learner of the Week.
“It’s good,’’ Norfleet says of the honor. “It’s nice to know that we came together as one because I wouldn’t have done it without my team.”
The oneness that enabled King to come back from a 16-0 deficit against Brother Rice is a spirit that permeates throughout the entire school, Norfleet says.
“Being at King, they make you feel like you’re a family. Nobody’s better than anybody else. Everybody’s the same,” he said.
Harvel sees his junior running back’s talent and leadership qualities in a special light.
“When we were down 16-0 in the first quarter, he got the team together and told the guys, ‘Let’s go out and get it,’” Harvel said. “And he took it 80 yards (for a TD) on the next play. He just wasn’t going to let us lose. He’s that kind of kid.”
Norfleet was selected ahead of two other top performers last weekend. Cass Tech quarterback Keith Moore connected on 14 of 18 passes for 208 yards and rushed for two TDs in a 44-42 victory against Ann Arbor Pioneer.
Crockett quarterback Brian Blackburn completed 13 of 15 passes for 223 yards and two TDs and ran eight times for 70 yards in the Rockets’ 43-28 victory against Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central