Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best of The Rest - Honorable Mention Pre-Season Top 20

Jordan Sanders OL/DL Rochester Hills Adams (Sr.) - could be most underrated player in the county. easily in the discussion for best two way player in the area and someone who will end up playing at the next level.

Francois Matthews RB/DB Auburn Hills Avondale (Sr.) - slippery runner with a flair to his game. will make a run at being the best back in the county, yardage wise. small, but deceptively strong.

Lake Orion Trio: Mike Nelson WR (SR), Sean Charrette QB (SOPH.) , Marques Stevenson (Jr.) - along with battering-ram Kym Bruce, this trio of Dragons could make up the most explosive offensive unit in the entire Metro Detroit area. Watch out for lanky and sure-handed split-end Zack Zott, replacing end zone-hungry wideout Mike Lott, opposite Nelson in the Dragons' passing game this season, to make some noise for Orion's "O" too.

Phil Galloway RB/LB/S Royal Oak Shrine (Sr.) - with the departure of all-CHSL tailback Anthony Cade, Galloway will carry the load for the Knights offense this year. He might not be as fast as Cade was, but Galloway will bruise his way to at least 1000 yds in '09.

Mike Sullivan QB Waterford Our Lady of The Lake (Jr.) - led the Lakers to a spot in the playoffs as a sophomore and there is more to come from this pass-happy Laker, whose poise and touch with the ball make it look like head coach Mike Boyd will be stretching the field a little more than he's traditionally used to doing over the next two seasons.

Gary Hunter WR/DB Orchard Lk. St. Mary's (SR.) - look for a breakout year for Hunter, playing in the shadow of some great athletes the past few years, as he takes on the roll as number one option for blue-chip qb Robert Bolden (penn st) in the Eaglets' always=potent passing game.

Jeff De Claire RB Birmingham Brother Rice (Sr.) - will get a bulk of the carries in the Brother Rice running game this year after sharing touches with Danny Henneghan last season. his yds. per carry (nearly 5)_over his varsity career is all you have to know about this kid. 

Deavon Robinson RB (Jr.) & Maurice Davenport RB/FB (Sr.) Southfield - Robinson and Davenport, two big, aggressive backs, could give the Blue Jays the most dangerous two-back set in the area.   

Keith Moore QB Oak Park (Jr.) - could be the surprise of the '09 season. more refined passing skills than his predecessor, Brandon Woods, who was a stat-monger in his own right, with significant more ability to elude the rush and make something happen on the run. showed impressive in spot duty last year and will team with speedster Daryl Flemister, another junior, to make up one of the most feared passing combo the Oak Park football program has ever seen.

Tyler Scarlett QB Clarkston (Sr.) - smart and savvy field general, who is a bonafide leader in the lockeroom and knows how to get it done in the clutch,

Josh Harris QB Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Jr.) - can hurt opponents with his arm or his feet and has a flair for the dramatic. 

Deonte Cooper QB Ferndale (SR.) - cagey signal caller with a presence in the huddle hard to find at the high school level. physical player, who likes contact, and can run the option and wildcat formations with tremendous ease.

Kevin Bolhuis QB Stoney Creek (Sr.)  multi-sports talent that runs his team's offense to perfection.  will miss his primary protector the last two seasons, OL Eric Fisher, off to play at Central Michigan, but has the know-how to keep the SC competitive and in contention for a playoff spot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fall Primer - Burney's Pre-Season Top 20 Players

With the kick-off to the '09 prep football season almost exactly one month away, I'm gonna start by blog's coverage of the upcoming campaign by breaking down Oakland County's top 20 gridiron ballers:

(In alphabetical order)

1. Lee Bailey RB/DB Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Jr). - rising star on both the football field and the basketball court
2. Devon Bailey RB Southfield Christian (Sr.) - scary combo of power and speed
3. Dakota Bender RB Clarkston (Sr.) - might as well call this guy "pac man" cause he eats up yardage at a video game-esque rate
5. Robert Bolden QB Orchatd Lk. St. Mary's (Sr.) - the Penn State bound slinger might have lost go-to guys Dion Sims and Rodney Woodland, but a durable and feisty group of replacements led by the receiving trio of Evan Webster, Gary Hunter, and Mike Furlong is waiting in the wings to help Bolden to a great senior year and a possible return to the state title game
5. Nick Bradley QB Rochester (Jr.) - Coming off a great statistical year in his sophomore campaign, Bradley's quality arm and pin point accuracy could very well lead a resurgence of the Rochester football program over the next couple of seasons
6. Damon Brown RB Troy (Sr.) - Workhorse running back with a nose for the goal line
7. Kym Bruce RB Lake Orion (Sr.) - physical runner with tough-as-nails attitude
8. Tyler Calero LB/DE Southfield Christian (Sr.) - Big and fast, Calero flew up recruiting boards with a more than stellar off season which landed him with a scholarship from Mark D'antonio and Michigan State.
9. Justin Cherocci LB Birmingham Brother Rice (Sr.) - prototype Warriors linebacker with top notch leadership ability
10. Justin D'Agostino LB Novi Detroit Catholic Central (Jr.) - will challenge Cherocci for the reputation as the CHSL's top linebacker
11. Rob Feeman QB Clawson (Sr.) - all the gaudy number aside, Feeman wants to bring the Trojans a winner in his final year calling signals for the school where his family name has always been synonymous with athletic prowess. with a solid core of returning players on both sides of the ball, he has a good chance to do just that
12. Daryl Flemister WR/KR/DB Oak Park (Jr.) - in the shadow of Rock Baker no longer, this will be a breakout year for the blazing fast Flemister
13. Jacob Hatchett/Bernard Tyler WR/KR Bloomfield Hills Lahser (Sr.) - this pair of crafty-speedsters will allow the Knights to spread the field and ease the pain of breaking in a new QB
14. William Lyons LB/S/WR Southfield (SR.) - underrated player who must step to the forefront this year and lead the Blue Jays into battle
15. Kevonte Martin-Manley WR Birmingham Brother Rice (Sr.) - could be the county's most exciting and dangerous player. a threat to score whenever he touches the ball
16. Niko Palazetti FB/RB Novi Detroit Catholic Central (Sr.) - best power-back in the state hands down
17. Frankie Popp QB Birmingham Brother Rice (Sr.) - fearless leader with a deadly arm
18. Jason Ray S/LB/WR/RB Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Sr.) - the Yellowjackets "Mr. Do-Everything" returns to anchor a solid Country Day defense and give a little help to junior starting QB Josh Harris whenever he needs it
19. Ernest Thomas S/LB Orchard Lk. St. Mary's (Sr.) -  UCLA got itself a smart and hard-hitting defensive menace, who will be the ying on "D" to Bolden and Co. yang on the "O".
20. A. Sam Welch QB Walled Lake Western (Sr.) - definition of a winner on the field
20. B. Jimmy Pickens S/RB Birmingham Brother Rice (Jr.) - hits like a mack truck and will lead the Warriors defensive backfield this year

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Prep Cinema - Hoosiers

Get ready folks, this is the first installment of the long awaited "Prep Cinema" series that will chronicle/review great movies that center around high school athletics: We start with not only the greatest high school sports movie of all time, but probably the greatest overall sports movie too - 1986's Hoosiers. Now, if you are a prep athlete reading this and you haven't already seen this epic feat of cinematic achievement , drop everything you are doing at this moment - after finishing this blog entry of course - and head to your local blockbuster to rent this DVD.  better yet, buy it.  you won't be disappointed. 

The movie is a story of triumph in the face of overwhelming adversity, redemption, community, and loyalty to a common cause. More importantly this engaging and heartfelt tale spun by director David Anspaugh, also responsible for hemming the classic college football movie, Rudy starring Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, and Vince Vaughn, is based on a true story. In the movie version, little Hickory High School, led by an innovative head coach and dead-eye shooting star player, makes a historical run all the way to claiming the 1952 Indiana High School State Basketball Championship, in a thrilling last-second upset win over heavily-favored and big school hoops powerhouse, South Bend Central. Gene Hackman plays the crusty, yet endearing Norman Dale, a former college bball coach banned from the game almost 20 years prior and out at sea in the navy who takes an old boyhood chum's offer to come coach a small high school team in Indiana. Dale accepts the offer from his friend, the school's principle, and transforms an every-man-for-itself, defensively-lackluster bunch of players into a well-disciplined and well-oiled hoops machine with a relentless attitude on the floor and a town legend in sharp-shooting scoring machine Jimmy Chitwood - who Hackman's character had to lure back to the team after he neglected to join at the beginning of the season out of respect for the previous coach - leading them into battle. Throw in a love story with a local teacher and Chitwood's legal guardian played by 80's leading lady-staple Barbara Hershey and a side story about a former star player turned town drunk- played by Dennis Hopper in an Oscar-nominated performance - whose son is on the team, and an enthralling ride of cinematic magic ensues. The basketball scenes are as realistic as in any movie ever.  this is mostly because Anspaugh casted all real Indiana prep studs for the roles as the teams players and you can really believe that these guys could play - unlike in other movies where you see actors trying to play ballers but yo u know they wouldn't last one second on a real court with real hoopsters. Hackman's Dale is inspiring to the max and makes you want suit up and play for him yourself. The conclusion is climatic and till this day sends chills down my spine every time I see the final few minutes of the movie. Bottom Line - the movie embodies everything that's good and right about high school sports and a town of beloved fans - alas communities like Clarkston, Lake Orion, and Pontiac from around these parts - that lives and dies with every win and loss the team endures.  

 - the events in the movie are based on the 1956 Milan Indians, an upstart small school from southern Indiana that marches through the state tournament slaying bigger, more athletic teams led by the likes of Indianapolis Crispus Attackus' Oscar Robertson and eventually winning the title against heavily-favored Muncie Central on star player Bobby Plump's 15 foot jumper as time expired.  The state of Indiana discontinued the "All-Inclusive" state tournament in favor of the traditional "Class" system in 1998, making it so a repeat of the 'Miracle in 56' is now impossible to occur.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hard Work Finally Pays Off For Holloman

Up until the very end of the '09 school year, Stephanie Holloman, one of the county's most superb dual-threats in the local prep sports scene over the past three seasons, didn't have anywhere to play at the next level. Holloman, an all-stater in both volleyball and basketball at Birmingham Roeper, did her work on the field of play with a quiet grace that sometimes made her easy to overlook due to the fact that everything she did appeared so effortless for her. Although that was far from the case - Holloman is the definition of hard work and class whether on the volleyball court or on the basketball hardwood - Holloman often times didn't receive her due credit from the local press corps or the college recruiting scene.  Overcoming this unfair lack of exposure, Holloman finally landed at Adrian College and is set to play volleyball there starting this fall. Adrian's spikers got themselves a true gem. The numbers say it all. Holloman helped the Roughriders' volleyball team to three district titles, one regional crown, and a berth in the D4 state championship game in 2007 and the school's hoops program to two district titles, one regional trophy, and an undefeated regular season in 2008, where the team held the state's number one ranking the entire year until bowing in the quarterfinals. on the basketball floor, Holloman was an intimidating presence in the post and defensive ace, that always checked the opposing team's star player. In volleyball, she patrols the net with a fearless attitude and viciously-deadly spike and that will undoubtebly score points with her soon-to-be college coaches and teammates. This is not to mention the fact that this girl is a bonafide star off the court as well, a standout in the classroom and someone whose humble and inspiring demeanor make her a natural leader. Congratulations to Stephanie and all the hard work she put in at the high school level that eventually landed her at the next level, where I predict she will shine and be a huge surprise to Adrian fans and future conferen ce foes alike in the very near future.   

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Destination - Next Level

We're halfway through the summer already and Oakland County has had a number of big time recruits verbally commit to college programs - four to be exact since school let out in June. The first was the most surprising. Just a week into his summer vacation, 6-3 250 pound defensive end/linebacker Tyler Calero from D-8 Southfield Christian got the local recruiting frenzy kicked off by accepting a scholarship offer from Michigan State. This signing really came out of nowhere. Calero plays at a school that is going into only its fourth year of existence and has never sent any players to a major program. Not a lot of people, even some hard core recruiting gurus, knew who this guy was before he committed. However, Calero, a sleeper who shot up recruiting board with his off-season performance at several camps and recruiting combines, could be a find for D'Antonio, who has faired quite well with players from this area in the past.

By the end of the month of the June, Orchard Lake St. Mary's QB, Robert Bolden, committed to Joe Pa at Penn State. Bolden is a McNabb/Vince Young combo-type player who can thread the needle through traffic like McNabb and be elusive in evading defenders with his feet like VY. When Michigan inked Inkster's Devin Gardner, a slightly-more refined version of Bolden, and MSU took Saline slinger Joe Boisture away from Boston College, the door was open for the 6-5 Eaglets signal caller to go out of the state to State College. I'm excited to see how all three field general size up against each other when they start facing off in BIG Ten battles over the next few years.

July then got started off with a boom when in the first week of the month, two more local guys made their choices for college. On July 2, Southfield-Lathrup 6-7 "point-forward" Roy Marble, Jr. committed to play hoops at Iowa. Marble, a silky smooth wing who as very good handles and a picture perfect "J", has some pretty big shoes to fill for the Hawkeyes - his pops, Roy Marble, Jr., is one of the programs best to ever suit up. I for one think he can do it!

To round out the early-summer recruiting rush, Orchard Lk. St. Mary's defensive stalwart, Earnest Thomas, made a commitment to UCLA. A linebacker/safety in the prep ranks, the Bruins coaching staff intends to make Thomas a fixture in the future defensive backfield. With Bolden running the "O" for the third season in a row and Thomas anchoring the "D", the Eaglets have a good shot at rebounding from an average year in '08 and making another run at the state title they lost out on in '07. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Huge Day For Hurst

Faced with his last chance to make an impression on any DI college coaches looking to fill remaining spots on their roster before camp opens next month, West Bloomfield's Chris Hurst came through big time. The 6-2 uncommitted wide receiver was one of 11 Oakland County gridiron gladiators selected to play in the 2009 East-West All Star Game, which took place this past Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. When it was all said and done, Hurst, made the biggest impact on the game for either team - the West defeated the East 43-22. With his eyes on the prize - a potential DI playing offer - Hurst went ballistic on the field, chewing up over 200 yards of total offense for his squad in the loss. He caught five balls for a game-high 141 yards and a TD, as well as returning a kickoff for a scintillating 84 yd score the put his team back in the game in the fourth quarter.  For Chris's sake, I hope some coaches took notice, because he is without a doubt a mid-level DI ball player. Schools like EMU, CMU, or WMU could really snatch up a diamond in the rough if they added this kid to their rosters. In addition to being a bonafide stud in the slot or on the outside, Hurst (also a standout hoops player in his High School career) is a character guy with a workhorse attitude that endears him to those he plays for and with. I know Chris is ready to commit to D2 Central State in Ohio if no offers come his way in the next few weeks.  No doubt, he'll do well there. But, at the same time, I know this kid is DI-worthy and I hope he gets his shot to play with the big boys.  Good Luck, Chris! Burney will be rooting for ya!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dreaming of Friday Night Lights

A few things I'm looking forward to this fall's football season: 

1. Senior QB studs, Frankie Popp (Brother Rice), Robert Bolden (OLSM), Sam Welch (Walled Lk. Western), and Rob Feeman (Clawson)

2. Oakland County thoroughbreds, Lake Orion and Birmingham Brother Rice, the two area teams most likely to be sure bets competing for a DI state title in November - Sophomore signal caller Sean Charette, the only freshman to ever start a state championship game in state history last season (an unfortunate Dragons' "L") returns with a loaded offensive arsenal (bruising tailback Kym Bruce and sly split ends, Mike Nelson and Mike Lott), as does Frankie Popp, who along with senior wide out Kevonte Martin-Manley possibly make up the most dangerous passing combination in the state.

3. Catholic Central senior fullback/bulldozer, Niko Palazetti. This kid is a physical specimen with few equals on the high school level. With a name that sounds like something that would be straight out of an old NFL Films reel, Palazetti is one of the best powerbacks to come out of the area in a long time and the top rated full back prospect in Metro Detroit . One of the best within five yards of the goal line as any back in the state.

4. How will D8 Southfield Christian respond from the success of its first playoff campaign in the program's three year history last season?  The return of all-state running back Devon Bailey - with an average of over 150 yds per game in 2008 - gives me confidence that a return trip to the post-season could be in head coach Tim Fracassi's near future.

5. Finding out how the new Pontiac High School is going to look on the gridiron - better, worse, or the same?

6. Seeing if Chris Fahr can bounce traditional county-contender Birmingham Seaholm back from a disastrous '08 season - Knowing Fahr as one of the best young football coaching minds in the area and the talent of returning senior QB Jack Quigley, I would say its close to a sure thing. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Where Are We Now - Burney breaks down the Pistons Draft/Free Agency

A week removed from the draft and a little less than 24 hours into the NBA's free agency period and the Detroit Pistons have made some serious statements about where they plan to go as a team from this point forward. So, where are we now, in terms of the organization and what does this mean for the future..i.e this season.???? I'm gonna tell you, plain and simple, raw and uncut - They're walking on very thin ice and the wrong move, either already made or soon to be made, could be the difference between the return to championship champagne baths or a return the NBA Lottery and/or an NBA also-ran, which in my opinion is almost worst.

Going against what I suggested in my previous pre-draft blog entry - I guess Joe D doesn't cyber-surf over in my - the team didn't put much stock in the draft, in terms of trying to get a true cornerstone or even someone who might start contributing anytime in the near future. As I said before, championship teams are rooted in good drafts and the drafting of centerpiece players.  The plucking of quality free agents and trades should be secondary and only used to fill in remaining spots not filled by homegrown talent or for acquiring "take us over the hump" players, i.e. KG in Boston, Clyde the Glyde in Houston, Rasheed in Detroit, Gasol in L.A., etc..

alright, so Joe D decided to go with another "Project" pick with Gonzaga's 6-11, rail-thin Austin Daye, a true post player who i doubt will spend much time in the post. Make no mistake about it, skills wise, Daye is a talented hoopster. However, I, as well as many of the national analysts, question is mental toughness and willingness to mix it up inside the 3 point line, where he notoriously likes to float out to in order to avoid setting up on the block. Straight up, the guy is soft as a satin and i don't really see how he's going to fit in here.  Mistake No.  1.

I will give Joe D some props for snaring DeJuan Summers out of Georgetown in the second round.  I think he could be a sleeper and end up a quality complimentary player in this league, possibly better.  

Then on Tuesday, Joe D axes his coach, Michael Curry after parading the guy out in front of the media the previous day to talk about the upcoming season.  Anyway you cut it, it was a bush league move by Dumars.  He knew he was going to rub him out on Tuesday, he just wanted some stall time.  Curry should have never been hired in the first place, so i have a hard time putting a majority of the blame for last season on him.  He def had some issues, but that really wasn't the issue.  

This issue is the brew is stale and u need to switch some things up before things are going to get any better. Well, Joe D is trying is hardest, I'll give him that. On Wed, he agreed to contracts with free agents Ben Gordon of Chicago and Charlie Villenueva of Milwaukee.  I like both guys, but for what Dumars intends to use them for, Im not certain what I think.  Gordon is undersized and a defensive liability.  and he plays a lot like AI, who didn't fit into the teams system last year - granted '09 AI isn't what he used to be.  Charlie V is a good fourth option on off, but I don't if I can play on a good team - not the Bucks - and put up the kind of numbers he did last year - 17 pts and 7 reb a night - and be a bona-fide third option either. 

So, where are we  now?  I dont really know.  But I'll have a better idea and report back after the team decides what to do with Rip, Tay, and Rasheed.  either way, things are more fragile over at the Palace than they've been in close to a decade.  And the burden of the world is falling on Joe D's shoulders as we speak. I hope he can handle it and come out a winner again.  Nonetheless, if I had to bet on it right now, I'd bet against him. We can only live on the laurels of the '04 title so long.  Joe's been riding the coattails of that title for five years. I dont care how many eastern conference championships in a row they played in, the team hasn't truly been championship-caliber since '05. Right or wrong, we live in a "what have you done for me" world. Its time to put up or shut up.