With his team gathered in the end zone at Northeast high Friday night, Martin Luther King coach Ed Dunn had a simple message for his victorious Cougars.
"Yo, MLK is back," he said, "ya heard?!" Loud cheers and claps from his boisterous bunch answered the question.
The Cougars held off somewhat shorthanded Frankford, 16-6, thanks to stingy defense and a few critical plays on offense.
The win means King (10-2) plays for the Public League Class 5A championship next week against Simon Gratz, which beat Mastery North, 20-14, on Friday.
Dunn, who took over in 2013, led the Cougars to their first ever Pub football title in that same season. It was the year after King's neighborhood rival Germantown had closed, which meant integrating players who were once bitter adversaries.
"This means that we're returning to the expectations that we set for ourselves and that we believed in this whole time," Dunn said. "We're starting to see it manifest itself on the field now."
Senior quarterback Cameron Carter finished with 203 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-31 passing.
His 20-yard strike to Mahmoud Ware with 7 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter helped put the Pioneers (2-9) away for good.
"The play was for the right side, but but he just happened to get open on the back side," Carter said. "I tell him to run his routes 100 percent every time, because I'm never gonna take my eye off him."
Carter's first touchdown pass to Isaiah Allen led to an 8-0 King advantage in the first quarter.
Carter, who played at Franklin last season, missed the first four games this year while his bid for a fifth-year of eligibility went through the league's process.
Frankford's ability to proceed in the playoffs was hampered with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in the half after senior running back Jordan Price went down with an apparent leg injury.
Price did not return and yet still led the Pioneers with 41 rushing yards on nine carries.
Senior quarterback Roberto Falu threw for 80 yards and added 28 more on the ground, including a 1-yard plunge that got the Pioneers within, 8-6, just before the half.
Defensively for the Cougars, senior safety Clarence Battle Jr. finished with two interceptions.
Linebacker and fellow senior D'andre Andrews punished ball carriers on the interior.
Allen finished with 72 yards and a score on six catches.
Al-Ma'hi Ali added 57 yards and four grabs, while Ware finished with 25 yards a score on two catches.
Martin Luther King 0 8 8 0 – 16
Frankford 0 6 0 0 – 6
MLK: Isaiah Allen 7 pass from Cameron Carter. Sean Williams run
FKD: Roberto Falu 1 run. Run failed