MLK Cougars to go head to head for spot in state playoffs with Archbishop Wood on Saturday

 Senior quarterback Joseph Walker thinks MLK has a mental edge over opponent Archbishop Wood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Senior quarterback Joseph Walker thinks MLK has a mental edge over opponent Archbishop Wood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

It’s do-or-die once more for Martin Luther King High School’s football team.

Last weekend, the Cougars walloped Mastery Charter North to take home the Philadelphia Public League Class AAA championship, the first for MLK.

This Saturday, the team will face Archbishop Wood, the highly-ranked team that won the city’s Catholic league championship. A spot in the state playoffs is on the line.

Standout quarterback Joseph Walker said the two squads are pretty evenly matched.

“We’re basically playing ourselves this week,” said Walker.

Still, Walker thinks his team may have the mental edge.

“We started from nothing and then we all had a dream to win a championship and then we won it and we want to keep going. We don’t want it to stop now,” he said.

In June, Germantown High School closed after 99-years as part of the Philadelphia School District’s facilities master plan, an effort, aimed in part, at addressing an ongoing budget crisis. A total of 24 schools were shuttered.

Many of Germantown’s football players transferred to King, the school’s Thanksgiving Day rival. So too, did first-year head coach Ed Dunn, who served as GHS’ assistant football coach.

“I can’t say we expected to be here, but we prepared to be here and that’s always been our mindset,” said Dunn about Saturday’s game.

The Cougars started 0-2 before reeling off seven straight wins in the regular season. Last season, the team’s only win came via forfeit.

No matter the outcome of this week’s game, Dunn will walk away feeling proud.

“You can’t quantify an entire season in one game. I think we’ve definitely made some strides. We put King football back on the map,” he said.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Northeast High School.

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