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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Week 5 Rankings

Oakland County Top Ten - Week 5
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (5-0) – I don't care what the AP poll says, CC is the number one team in the state, period!  Print it! Oh wait, I just did.
2. Lake Orion (4-1) – The Sean Charette-led offense is one of the best in Michigan and the defense is ultra-aggressive, made up of a bunch of hard-hitters with fearless attitudes. The Dragons opening day loss to Hudsonville is a distant memory and there is a good chance that head coach Chris Bell and his squad won't lose again this regular season.
3. Clarkston (5-0) – Senior field general Tyler Scarlett is a straight winner through and through.  He can and will single-handedly win games for the Wolves and sideline skipper Kurt Richardson isn't afraid to take the reins away and let him loose. The C-Town defense has been a rock of consistency all year long. The Wolves D-Back unit is one of the best around.
4. Birmingham Brother Rice (4-1) – Rice was the pictu re of resiliency last week in their last-second win over Warren De La Salle. No self-pity hangover from the CC loss was in the cards for these charged-up Warriors. Coach Fracassa's boys were chomping at the bit to get back on the field in Week 5 and when they did they played their butts off. And they did it in style – Dancing off the field in celebration following Adam Gorski's game-winning 35-yarder split the up rights. Don't count the Warriors out just because they dropped the CC game. Frankie Popp and the boys aren't going to let you down.
5. Farmington Hills Harrison (5-0) – Wow, is it fun to watch the Harrison Hawks play this season or what?  These guys can't hit you from so many different angles on offense and the "D" is so-sturdy, I'm foreseeing another lengthy playoff run in the storied program's very near future.  Vince "The Prince" Salatino and "The Posse" – the Hawks prolific offensive arsenal consisting of Steve Slobin, Aaron Burbridge, Sidney Coleman, David Evans, and Jalen Kelly – stretch the field as good as any team in the area. Dom Mencotti and the defense are relentless.
6. Rochester Hills Adams (4-1) –  The Highlanders 'D' reminds me of the Black Eyed Peas song, "Boom Boom Pow", cause that's the sound they make every time they're on the field of battle.  Junior QB Andrew Hammett is a star in the making.
7. Walled Lake Central (5-0) – I think the Vikings are a team of destiny this year. At the very least, this group is going to have a great shot at a district championship and possibly a regional. Senior QB Joe Diamond is having an outstanding year. The Vikings line play on both sides of the ball has been excellent.
8. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (4-1) – Two tough road wins – At Muskegon Catholic Central in Week 3 and at Flint Carmen-Ainsworth last week – has hardened this team's resolve.  Playing in those type of contests will bear fruit in the playoffs, where the Yellowjackets can say to themselves, "we've been here before" and use the experience to overcome any post-season adversity they face. 
9. Madison Heights Madison (5-0) – After a slightly-down year when they changed head20coaches and a great deal of personnel, the Eagles are back to form and playing superior football. Valdez Showers – 175 yds and 3 Td's last week – is possibly the most underrated tailback in the county.   
10. (a) Madison Heights Lamphere (4-1) – Junior QB Ryan Horvath – 4 TDs last week – is having another stellar campaign calling signals and the multi-faceted Mitch Kozloswksi hurts opponents all over the field - This kid makes plays wherever he lines up, whether at receiver, running back, or kick returner.
10. (b) Pontiac (4-1) – Is there a hotter team in Metro Detroit?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wildcat QB Merry-Go-Around

Its been a wild ride so far for the Novi Wildcats this football season. First, the Wildcats, 7-2 last year, started the campaign 0-2. Then, in the late-second quarter of the team's 20-6 loss at home against Walled Lake Central, starting QB Brandon Rzydnewski went down with a shoulder injury. Jimmy Gurney replaced Rzydnewski calling signals for Novi and the Wildcats proceeded to reel off three straight wins, including last Friday night's 38-6 bombing of South Lyon. The win proved bitter sweet however as Gurney, who passed for 160 yds and 2 TD's in the South Lyon game, went down with a knee injury and will be lost for the remainder of the year. What's so sad is that Gurney was playing so well. His performance in all three wins ignited what had been a somewhat dormant offense in the first 2 weeks of the season. He appeared to have had the team headed towards another playoff berth if he would have stayed healthy. Now, the Wildcats season is up in the air. Its difficult to ask a team to win with a back-up QB, let alone a 3rd-stringer. The Wildcats resilience will indeed be tested. I wish them luck!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback

Shouts out to Milford's Cody Beck, who had a monster game in the Mavericks 42-41 heartbreaking loss to Hartland and FH Harrison's Steve Slobin, who did his best Steve Slayton imitation in the Hawks 28-6 beat down of Birmingham Groves. Beck had 268 yards rushing to go along with four TD's. Slobin ran for 111 yards and also scored four TD's. Junior QB Luke Johnson had another solid outing as well, throwing for 140 yards and two scores. Hartland converted a two-point conversion with under 25 seconds to clinch the epic intra-conference battle.
And what about Brother Rice's Adam Gorski?. Is this kid gutsy or what? Talk about onions! Having never made a high school FG before, Gorski came through when his team needed most, drilling a 35-yarder through the up-rights in the closing seconds of the Warriors 24-21 defeat of Warren De La Salle. Coach Fracassa's plucked Gorski from the soccer field this past summer and what a find its turned out to be.
New Novi QB Jimmy Gurney has the entire Wildcat nation smiling wide and bright. Gurney was on his game all night long on Friday in the Wildcats 38-5 drubbing of South Lyon, passing for 160 yards and tossing two TD's. Replacing opening day starter Brandon Ryzdnewski, out since a Week 2 loss at home against Walled Lake Central where he suffered a shoulder injury, Gurney has been playing with poise and precision while leading the team to three straight wins. Starting off the season 0-2, the Wildcats are now 3-2, 3-0 in league play. Last season, Novi went 7-2 before bowing in the first round of districts to CC. What a difference a few weeks make - after the WL Central loss, post-season aspirations around the team and their fans were dim, now their in full-bloom once again.
Other notable primetime performances from this past weekend:
Ortonville Brandon's sophomore sensation Shane Mahaffy continues to shine under center for the Blackhawks. Mahaffy accounted for 3 TD's - one passing, two running - in the OB's 20-17 win over Oxford on Friday night.
Hazel Park's Dominic Wiggins rushed for 186 yards and 3 TD's in the Vikings 30-24 comeback win over North Farmington.
Chris Wheeler danced all over the West Bloomfield "D", going for a trifecta of TD's in the Colts 26-13 triumph over the visiting Lakers.
Clawson's ROB Feeman, put a 4-spot on the board in the Trojans 42-24 win over Warren Lincoln. Feeman passed for 2 Td's and ran for 2-Td's. RB Howard Crippen had a pair of rushing scores too.
Farmington's Neno Jones-Fletcher busted loose in the Falcons 31-7 defeat of Birmingham Seaholm, going for 116 yards and 3 TD's.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 5 Picks

The Great Burnzini's top games of the week: 
Overall '09 Record - 47-11
Southfield v. Rochester Hills Adams – The Blue Jays and Highlanders meeting up in a rematch of last-season's epic-tussle (won in the final seconds by Adams), is probably the best game on the slate Friday night. I foresee this one being another down-to-the-wire affair as Southfield's locomotive-like running attack faces off against a stifling Adams defense. The Highlanders' edge at Quarterback and always-raucous home crowd advantage will prove the difference.
Adams 24 Southfield 21
Clarkston v. Southfield-Lathrup – Kurt Richardson's Wolf Pack are getting better each game, showing that they can play any kind of style and still come out victorious. Different players have stepped up in key situations in all four of the team's wins and that's always an encouraging sign  - not to mention a key factor in putting together any successful athletic campaign. What's even scarier – more so for opposing "D" units on the Wolves s chedule – is that the much-heralded C-Town 'O' has yet to hit its full stride. There will be no let down like last season when the favored-Wolves dropped a shootout to S-Lathrup at home. The host-Chargers keep it close until the fourth when C-Town pulls away for the win.
Clarkston 28 S-Lathrup 17
 Auburn Hills Avondale v. Ferndale – Both Avondale and Ferndale need this win in a bad way - each coming off disappointing losses in Week 4. Francois Matthews drops the bomb on Ferndale for the road warrior-Yellow Jackets, rushing for 150 yards and three scores. Deonte Cooper and Brandon Pittman make things interesting for the home crowd – combining for three TD's - but it's not enough. Mitch Robinson hooks up with Ray Tillman for the winning score and Avondale escape's with the victory.
Avondale 31 Ferndale 24
Warren De La Salle v. Birmingham Brother Rice (Sat) – Rice rebounds big and takes care of business at home. Warriors QB Frankie Popp finds his favorite target, Kevonte Martin-Manley, for a pair of scores and Jimmy Pickens takes one in on 8O' and 'D'. Ornery and focused following the CC loss in Week 4, Fracassa's boys will come out with their helmets on fire and hit anything that comes within their striking distance.  This will be a old-fashioned grit-fest with the Warriors ending up on top.
Rice 20 De La Salle 17
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Dearborn Divine Child – The finely-tuned machine that is the CC Shamrocks this year is in take-no-prisoners mode and the epitome of excellence in high school football. I'm talking about great kids, being coached by great coaches, and cheered on by a first class fan base.  The dominant line play on both sides of the ball coupled with such outstanding leadership from a battle-tested senior class, makes head coach Tom Mach's  squad my mid-season favorite to win it all in at Ford Field in November. DC doesn't't stand a chance.
CC 42 DC 7
Farmington Hills Harrison v. Birmingham Groves – Employing an explosive offense and playmaking defense, the Hawks have unlimited potential. After a playoff absence in '08, I'm certain these guys won't let their early season success go to their heads.  Even with a 4-0 record and a number two ranking in the state, Harrison is still hungry. The Hawks have gotten better with each win and senior field general Vince Salatino is playing some of the best quarterback in the entire Metro-Detroit area.  Watch out Groves, Salatino and "The Posse" –  Harrison's primed offensive arsenal (Slobin, Burbridge, Coleman, Kelly, and Evans to name a few) – are coming to town and they're locked and loaded.  Salatino throws for another trio scores and Steve Slobin takes two more in on the ground. Harrison cruises!
Harrison 35 Groves 10
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Flint Carmen-Ainsworth (Sat) – This game will tell me all I need to know about the Yellowjackets. I've been championing the very-talented Country Dayers all year long and I'm not about to jump ship after one bump in the road –alas a=2 0blow-out loss to Highland Park last week . I have faith Josh Harris, Lee Bailey, Kenny Knight and the boys will have the "O" back to form after a less-than stellar outing against Highland Park. No doubt Jason Ray and Chris Eddins will do the same with the 'D'. DCD pulls out a close one.
DCD 28 FCA 27
Lake Orion V. Troy Athens – The Dragons' will steamroll past Athens with ease.  The relentless running back duo of Kim Bruce and Marques Stevenson hit opposing defenses like a tsunami, so Red Hawks bring your bathing suits and a couple of towels. Sean Charette spreads it around, tossing TD's to Mike Nelson, Daniel Ney, and Zach Zott. Bruce and Stevenson each make it over the goal line for a score apiece too.
LO 35  T. Athens 7
West Bloomfield v. Troy – Could wind up being the best game of the night by the simple fact that both squads need a 'W' to keep their playoff hopes safe and sound.  The Lakers and Colts exchange blows for a full-four quarters, lighting up the scoreboard with type of numbers that were expected from each team in Week 4. Whoever has the ball last has the best chance of winning this one. I see Colts Bobby Wunderlich finding Bobby Pardun for the winning TD. Get your grove on Gary Griffith, the Oak Park game will be a distance memory after your boys play tough at home against the WB.
Troy 34 The WB 30
Waterford Kettering V. Walled Lake Northern – With Northern's Jason Tucker and Kettering's Ryan Dingman locking horns, you better make sure the stat man has an extra pencil and plenty of spare paper. This one will be another shootout, the type of game both Tucker and Dingman excel at. Coming off a 160 yard, 3 TD performance, Dingman is hot. Tucker – 415 yards and four passing TD's in WEEK 4 -  is hotter.
WL Northern 28 W. Kettering  21   
Walled Lake Central v. Waterford Mott – A 4-0 start has Central thinking conference title. The Vikings are rolling with an extremely efficient offense and opportunistic "D=E 2.  Bob Meyer's crew will go on the road and mash Mott to a pulp.  Meyer = front runner for KLAA coach of the year. Great job, Bob!
Cranbrook v. RO Shrine – Watch out Cranes, Shrines QB Branch Kampe is about to give the home crowd a treat and go all BRANCH KAMPE!
Shrine 30 Cranbrook 20
Orchard Lake St. Mary's v. UOFD-Jesuit – Eaglets make it two in a row and by going on the road and laying the smack down on the host-Cubbies.  Robert Bolden throws for a pair of scores and Ernest Thomas, Corey Lucas, and Gary Hunter all take the Nestee Plunge into the end zone.  
OLSM 38 UofD-Jesuit 12
Pontiac  v. Bloomfield Hills Andover – You can't stop Phoenix field general Jonathon McKnight, you can only hope to contain him! After this weekend, Pontiac will be 4-1 and the playoffs will only be two wins away. Wow! Who w ould of thought?
Pontiac 34 Andover 7

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bobbing and Weaving

In my most recent blog entry regarding the many former OC prep standouts giving the Michigan State football team a real lift this season, i somehow forgot all about Ross Weaver. Not that Weaver, a senior d-back, is easy to forget about. He's only one of four captains for the Spartans and a part time starter at cornerback. Last year he started 8 games. Weaver definitely does the OC and the entire Southfield Blue Jays program proud. Get busy Ross and try to pull down a pick or two for the Great Burnzini this weekend.

A Taste of The OC In East Lansing

Even though things have been quite somber in East Lansing in recent days, - with Michigan State coming off two straight heartbreaking losses in a row - its still great to see the Spartans getting such positive contributions from  
so many former Oakland County prepsters so far this season.
There are 15 members of MSU's roster this fall that hail from high school programs in the ever-talent laden OC. And a good deal of them are seeing major playing time and making their presence felt on the stat sheet.
Redshirt Freshman RB Caulton Ray from Birmingham Brother Rice has been starting in the Spartans backfield and has over 150 yards on the ground, including a rushing TD in game 2 vs. Central Michigan. True Freshman RB Edwin "Rock" Baker from Oak Park has been getting some touches too, spelling Ray and Larry Caper.
Freshman TE Dion Sims from Orchard Lake St. Mary's caught a TD in his first game in the college ranks, snaring a 26-yard TD pass from Keith Nicol in the 2nd quarter of the Sparties opening day blow out Montana St.
Junior TE Charlie Gannt from Birmingham Brother Rice caught a 16-yard TD in the CMU game. Both Sims and Gannt have caught passes in all three games.
Junior WR Mark Dell from Farmington Hills Harrison caught six balls for a team-high 121 yards. Dell has shown flashes of brilliance in his time in East Lansing and is looking to be a tad more consistent in his third year playing for Team Sparty in '09.
Chris D. Rucker from Birmingham Detroit Country Day is also seeing some clock at the wide out spot for head coach Mark D'antonio.
SR LB Adam Decker from Brother Rice looks solid at his linebacker spot and redshirt freshman Tyler Hoover (Novi) and Jon Strayhorn (Oak Park) at DE and junior LB Jon Misch (OL St. Mary's) are playing well too.
Shouts also go out to freshman WR Bennie Fowler (DCD), freshman PK Kevin Muma (Troy), redshirt freshman RB Andre Buford (DCD), sophomore OL Joel Foreman (Milford), and sophomore punter Kyle Selden (Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes) for repping the OC to the fullest every time they put on the Green and White as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009

WEEK 4 Rankings - Oakland County Top Ten

Top 10 Football Teams In Oakland County
1              Novi Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) -Shamrocks are in peak-form and playing at an elite level. Head coach Tom Mach's tailback-unit is deep and diverse.  Mach can go four deep – Palazeti, Capatina, Savakus, and Herzog – and have very little if any drop off in production.  That's rare in high school football. The Shamrocks' O-line play is top rate too. Throw in a battle-tested senior QB and a defense that is spinning shutouts like an MLB ace and CC has to be the favorite to win the state title in Division 1
2              Lake Orion (3-1) – The Dragons can hit you from so many angles offensively, opponents are constantly on their toes – usually back-peddling.  LO running-mates Kim Bruce and Marques Stevenson can easily make an argument that they're as good a backfield as CC's stable of ball-toters and it would be hard to dispute it.  The receiving corps of Mike Nelson, D aniel Ney, Alex Mayo, and Zach Zott, is one of the 1   Novi Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) – Coming off a draught-breaking win over Brother Rice, the best around. Sophomore QB Sean Charette makes the whole Dragons ship sail, playing at a clip well beyond his years under center for head coach Chris Bell.
3              Birmingham Brother Rice (3-1) – The Warriors are strong-willed and mentally-tough and there's little doubt in my mind they will bounce back strong from their defeat to CC. I'll even go a step further and say that Rice will rebound big time by taking down De La Salle at home this Saturday.
4              Clarkston (4-0) – Everyone knows about the Wolves top-of-the-class "O", but it's been the team's excellent play on the defensive side of the ball that's the reason they're undefeated right now. Jeff Dean and Bryan Haslinger anchor things up front, while the d-back unit of Chris Canada, Derek Booker, Andrew Schram, and Dustin Gamble (also C-Town's top receiver) has been in shutdown mode since the start of the season. Gamble's pick in the end zone in the closing sec onds of Week 3 preserved a 25-21 comeback win over Troy and the entire unit stepped up big time in Week 4  by completely neutralizing West Bloomfield's prolific receiving corps in the team's 17-7 win over the Lakers last Thursday.
 5             Farmington Hills Harrison (4-0) – Guess whose back? Herrington's Hawks are all systems go, firing on all cylinders once again. Dominic Mencotti is headlining a spirited defense and Vince "The Prince" Salatino, Steve Slobin, Aaron Burbridge make Harrison's high-powered offense hum like a classic motor city muscle car. An undefeated regular season is a distinct possibility right now!
 6              Rochester Hills Adams (3-1) – Adams is hitting its stride and looks to be primed for a playoff run with such a stout "D" and machine like-efficient "O". Tony Partrito's Highlanders are built for the long haul and is just starting to pick up steam.
7              Walled Lake Central (4-0) – Vikings Head Coach Bob Meyer has done a superb job getting the Central program back in tip top shape following consecutive down campaigns in '07 and '08. Senior QB Joe Diamond is the real deal. His expert-command of the Vikings offense and on-the-field leadership makes Central ultra-formidable and the front-runner for a KLAA crown.
8              Milford (3-1) – Junior riflemen Luke Johnson has the Mavericks thinking big things. Johnson and his top weapons on offense Bryar Miller, Brandon Bell, and Cody Beck are a scary group for opposing defenses to face. There looks to be no late-season foibles in the cards this year for the upstart Mav Pack.
9              Birmingham Detroit Country Day (3-1) – Taken down to the canvas with force by a fierce Highland Park squad last weekend, the next week or two will be a true character test for coach MacLean's Yellowjackets. If I had to bet, I'd say QB Josh Harris and team captains Jason Ray, Joe MacLean, and Chris Eddins, will make sure the team is focused and ready to play.
10           a. Madison Heights Madison (3-0) – Tony Lowry and Jeremiah McQueen are a sweet pitch=and-catch connection.  Valdez Showers is a beast.  Sophomore Danny Larkins does it all for head coach Drake Wilkins' Eagles.   
                b. Southfield (3-1) – The Blue Jays "D" comes up huge against upset-minded Stoney Creek on Friday night, picking up a fumble and returning it for a score that proved the winner for Tim Conley's gridiron gladiators. Down 14-0 at the half to SC, Daevon Robinson helped Southfield storm back in the second half, rumbling for TD runs of 17 and 27 and showing why he is one of the best tailbacks in the area.
                c.  Pontiac (3-1) – Jonathon McKnight plays as smooth as Bryan McKnight sings. Jabari Martin, Dominique Shaw, Martez Shelton, and Robert Dooley are all having standout seasons for the su rprise of the year Phoenix.  Network TV should give head coach Greg Ganfield his own show and call it "The Reclimator", since he proves Parcell-like everywhere he goes and turns things around in a hurry.

Monday Morning Quarterback - Honor Roll

Wow, were there some outstanding performances on the gridiron this past weekend or what?  And Walled Lake Northern's QB Jason Tucker tops the list. In the Knights historic 50-39 win over Walled Lake Western - the school's first ever over the much-despised Warriors - he threw for over 400 yards, ran for nearly 200, and found the end zone a total of seven times. Who does this kid think he is, Tom Brady?
Rob Feeman of Clawson passed for 375 and scored a total of 6 Td's and teammate Howard Crippen caught 5 balls for 193 yards and three TD's, while running for 106 yards on 12 carries in their team's 54-43 loss to Marine City. Walled Lake Western's Sam Welch passed for 345 yards and five Td's and WR Taylor Porras hauled in 12 catches for 225 yards and 3 Td's  in their team's loss to Tucker's Knights.
Waterford Kettering's Ryan Dingman pulled a Willis Reed by taking the field at the last possible moment prior to kickoff against Waterford Mott on Saturday and leading the Captains to a blow out win. Having sat out the past two games due to an injury suffered in Week 1, Dingman was eager to get to work in20the huddle and did damage to the Corsairs defense early and often in his 160 yard, 3 TD return performance.
Milford's Luke Johnson threw for 267 and 3 TD's in the Mavericks stomping of Pinckney, giving him over 500 yards total in the past two weeks and making him one of the more surprising stories of the year in the OC. Way to go, Luke!
Berkley's Terrell Porter is on a tear. His 105 yards, 3 TD outing in the Bears 42-7 mauling of Bloomfield Hills Andover, gives him a county-leading 14 rushing scores. This 6-4 speed demon is in the mold of former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL all-pro Eddie George. He's big and physical and tough to drag down.
Lake Orion's Mike Nelson took two trips over the goal line in the Dragons 35-0 stomping of previously-unbeaten Southfield-Lathrup and QB's Joe Diamond of Walled Lake Central and Vince Salatino of FH Harrison, each collected another four apiece  -giving them 13 and 14, respectively - in their team's runaway wins as well.
Extra –Props: To CC for their huge win over Rice, Pontiac for making it three in a row and20showing all of Yak-town that miracles can happen, and Oak Park for its impressive handling of Troy.
And on one final note regarding Oak Park: what a tremendous job new head coach Mario Evans is doing with a program that only a few months previous was in shambles. Evans has the '09 Knights playing an inspired brand of football that has been absent of late in the OP. If the '08 Knights would have exerted half as much hard work, drive and determination they could have contended for a state title. Instead a highly-heralded bunch of players (MSU's Rock Baker and all-oaa standouts Brandon Woods and Daryl Flemister) and a arguably too-big-for-his-britches head coach, stumbled to an embarrassing 2-7 record. A win over Troy Athens this coming Friday night could have Evans and his crew talking playoffs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Boys CC/Rice

Saturday's Top Games
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Novi Detroit Catholic Central  - The biggest rivalry game in Michigan high school  sports bar none.  Earlier in the season I was thinking Rice – they top CC in the skills position department -, but CC's absolute dominance of its competition so far, is pushing towards picking the Shamrocks. The fact that the epic battle for bragging rights is on cc's home field and the fact that it hasn't won this annual grudge match since 2002, are all major factors in my pick too.  CC is not as flashy as Rice, just extremely tough-minded and fundamentally-sound across the board.  The way I see it, only a great game by Rice senior QB Frankie Popp can save the Warriors from defeat – which is very possible.  The Shamrocks greyhound-like backfield Niko Palazetti and Anthony Capatina run for a TD apiece and Sam Landry hits John Jakubik for a late score that proves the difference.
CC 27 B-Rice 20
Warren De La Salle v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's –De La Salle is undefeated and ranked in the top ten in the state. Starting off the year a big goose egg and 2, St. Mary's is desperate for a win to keep their season from flat-lining. Since I'm not convinced of De La Salle's superiority – the Pilots lost a lot from last season's CHSL title squad – I'm going to say desperation wins out in this one. Eaglets QB Robert Bolden is too much of a cold-blooded assassin in the pocket to let the OLSM faithful down when they need him the most. Bolden throws for 275 and three scores and leads the Eaglets to the upset.
OLSM 24 DLS 17
Marine City Cardinal Mooney v. Royal Oak Shrine – Get busy my main man, Brance Kampe! Paired together with his top target, fellow junior Burtrum Marks, the Knights have one awesome tandem of killer B's.
Shrine 38 MC Cardinal Mooney 13
Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes v. Riverview Gabriel Richard – How good is junior signal caller Mike Sullivan for the Lakers? He's pretty darn good, if you ask me.  To take it even further, I guarantee, before it's all said and done, his career passing statistics will be at the top of the WOLL record books.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Friday's Picks

Top Games in Oakland County - Friday
Highland Park v. Birmingham Detroit Country Day – After scratching and clawing to remain undefeated last Saturday in their OT showdown in Muskegon against Muskegon Catholic Central, the Yellowjackets will be tested once again. HP is for real. The Polar Bears are easily one of the best teams in the city of Detroit and they scared the living daylights out of Brother Rice in Week 3. The deciding factor is simple and he wears uniform number 8.  Simply put, DCD has Josh Harris. HP does not. Done and done. Harris is so money, he bleeds cold hard cash!!  
DCD 24 HP 20
Ferndale v. Pontiac – Coming off two in a row in the win column, the Phoenix will have the opportunity to prove if they are for real or not this year when they entertain a more-than solid Ferndale team Friday night.  Hopefully, all of the city of Pontiac will be out there to support Greg Ganfield and his new brand of exciting Yak-town pigskin. Despite being the road team and considering the Phoenix's "hot fac tor", I still think Ferndale is the favorite. That said, I predict a Pontiac upset. Get busy my main man Jonathon McKnight!!!  
Pontiac 21 Ferndale 18
Oak Park v. Troy – Gary Griffith's Colts will take their anger from last week's heartbreaking loss to Clarkston out on the visiting Knights. First year head coach Mario Evans has OP playing their hearts out and that's commendable, but Troy's too good for the Knights to keep up with. OP keeps it close early, however Bobby Wunderlich makes amends for his late-game pick last week by throwing for 250 yds and 3 TD's, and leads the stampeding Colts to the runaway victory.
Troy  35 OP 10
Southfield v. Stoney Creek – You  cannot stop Dae'von Robinson, you can only hope to contain him! Harrison is in the rear-view mirror and Tim Conley will have his troops on-point going on the road to face a struggling Stoney Creek squad. Robinson scoots for 200 yards and three scores, while Brandon Watkins finally settles in behind center, tossing a p air of Td's to Kalen Willis and William Lyons. Blue Jays fly past the Cougars in relatively-easy fashion.
Southfield 41 Stoney Creek 24
Southfield Christian v. Sterling Heights Parkway Christian – Eagles QB Connor Michaels is sometimes overshadowed by more highly-vaunted teammates Taylor Calero (Michigan State) and Devon Bailey.  But make no mistake, Michaels is the motor that makes head coach Tim Fracassi's ship run. With both Calero and Bailey nursing injuries, Michaels standout play under center and in the return game is a major reason why SC is 3-0. The high-quality performances continue against Parkway -Michaels throws for two and runs for two more as the Eagles slide past PC and stay unbeaten.
Southfield Christian 33 Parkway Christian 27 
Southfield-Lathrup v. Lake Orion – The Chargers, who have started out the year 3-0, will come down to earth with a resounding thud on Friday night when they travel into the Dragons' Den to face a gladiator-esque Lake Orion squad. Kim Bruce and Marques Stevenson will run over, through, and20around S-Lathrup for a pair of scores each and expect at least one, maybe two, in the air from sophomore slinger Sean Charrette.
LO  42 S-Lathrup 21
NOTICE: Read Tomorrow for my CC/RICE pick. This one is going to be a duzy! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Thursday's Top Games

The Great Burnzini says, 'Look out, I'm on fire"
Record through 3 weeks - 34-7
Clarkston v. West Bloomfield – The Wolves get thrown into the fire for the second week in a row, third in the last four games. If C-Town comes out of the WB with a "W", the Wolves will be in the driver's seat in the race for the OAA. It won't be easy for icey-veined gunner Tyler Scarlett and the boys in the blue -The Lakers have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and what is sure to be a raucous home crowd behind them.  However, I have tremendous faith in Scarlett and his cat quick backfield-mate Dakota Bender and see Clarkston eeking out a narrow victory in the end. 
Clarkston 28 West Bloomfield 24
Birmingham Groves v. Rochester Hills Adams – Head Coach Tony Partrito's group is as fundamentally -sound and disciplined as ever. The Highlanders simply wear opposing teams down with their raw power and physicality.  I love to watch them play because its throwback football in its most pure form.  I think by the end of October this team will end up being a better and more dangerous on-the-field product than last year's more highly-touted and athletically-skilled squad.
Adams 45 Groves 14
Birmingham Seaholm v. Farmington Hills Harrison – Vince Salatino continues to sizzle, finally surpassing the 300 yard mark through the air. Sophomore split end Aaron Burbridge gets into the end zone twice and shows people why he's the real deal re-incarnation of Mark Dell.
Harrison 41 Seaholm 17
UofD-Jesuit v.  Auburn Hills Avondale – Francois Matthews is just too good. Mitch Robinson and Ray Tillman hook up for another pair of scores, as the Yellow Jackets cruise to 4-0.
Walled Lake Central v. Lakeland  - Central's hardest task to date and I'm confident they will prevail unscathed. Senior QB Joe Diamond runs for two and throws for two, both to20Sammy Pearlstein. I'm nicknaming these two, "The Bling Bling Twins", 'cause both make the Vikings shine every time they hit the field. The Central 'D' is a veteran group and they will shut the Eagles wet-around-the-ears offense down.
WL Central 31 Lakeland 21
Walled Lake Northern v. Walled Lake Western – Sam Welch, Derek Russell and the Warriors will take a cue from Jay-Z's new "Blueprint 3" album and "Run this town", meaning Walled Lake proper, Thursday night.
WL Western 35 WL Northern 20
Farmington v. Rochester – These two teams each have pass-happy junior QB's – Farmington has Matt Craven and Rochester has Nick Bradley.  And both of these two gunslingers are ultra-hungry for a 'W', which would enable their respective squads' playoff hopes alive.  This contest has all the makings of a classic shootout and that's what I expect to see. Craven and Bradley each throw for a trifecta of TD's in a marathon-overtime affair. Senior placekicker Marco Iaderosa wins it for the Fal cons
Farmington 38 Rochester 35

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oakland County Football Rankings -Week 3

Top 10 Teams in Oakland County - after Week 3
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (3-0) - Thunderous performances in their first three outings have shown how dominant the Shamrocks can be when playing at their best. CC's stout defense has not allowed a single point so far. Mike Kinville and Justin D'Agostino are one of the best LB tandems in the state. Sam Landry is showing better than expected under center. The backfield of Palazetti, Capatina, and Savakis, has been just as lethal as advertised.
2. Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0) - Despite being 3-0, the Warriors will be slight underdogs going up against CC this weekend and that should give coach Fracassa's team some additional motivation. Not that they should need any. Rice is super fast across the board on offense and defense. Frankie Popp and Kevonte Martin-Manley are a lethal combination. Junior S/RB Jimmy Pickens does it all for the Warriors. Senior Michael Brown is the best lockdown corner in the area.
3. Clarkston (3-0) - There is no gamble with Wolves WR/CB Dustin Gamble. He's a sure thing. Gamble has emerged as wonderboy QB Tyler Scarlett's favorite target in the passing game and his skills in the d-backfield are up to par as well. Proving his merit as a prime time player, he intercepted standout Troy QB Bobby Wunderlich in the end zone in the closing seconds of C-Town's 25-21 win over Troy last Friday to secure victory for his team. Super-threat RB Dakota Bender has still yet to hit his stride, although his 2 TD performance against Troy was a good start.
4. Lake Orion (2-1) - Sophomore QB Sean Charrette gets better every game. Superstar tailbacks KIM Bruce and Marques Stevenson never stop churning against rival defenses and are two of the hardest working skills position player around. Phil Serzo, Vinnie Booker and the 'D' seem to be rounding into shape following their week 1 meltdown against Hudsonville.
5. Farmington Hills Harrison (3-0) - The Hawks complete dismantling of a cement-jawed Southfield squad proves the program is back and ready to be taken seriously again. Not that there was really any doubt that coach Herrington would get things back in order asap after the team missed the playoffs in '08. Senior field general Vince Salatino - nine Td's through the air, 10 overall - is playing at levels few in the state are at his position. Picking apart opposing secondaries like a seasoned pro - this is his first year starting on varsity- if he keeps it up he could both earn himself a place to play at the college level and take Harrison on another epic run through the state playoffs in November.
6. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (3-0) - On track to get back to the D4 state title game, a place the Y-Jackets have been the past two straight years. Junior QB Josh Harris leads a potent DCD offense, with high-quality weapons like WR Kenny Knight, TE Jason Ray, and RB's Lee Bailey and John Hill, at his disposal.
7. Troy (2-1) - No doubt in my mind the Colts will bounce back from a tough loss to Clarkston on the road last week. Gary Griffith's troops played like soldiers in the defeat and have nothing to be ashamed of.  I thought Bobby "The Wonderful One" Wunderlich was going to lead Troy to a last second win. But Dustn Gamble made a great play. The game could have gone either way. Senior WR/SS Bobby Pardun is playing out of his mind. Props to ya, Bobby. Chris Wheeler is a mega-stud!
8. Rochester Hills Adams (2-1) - Big, Burly, and Ill-Mannered. Thats how to describe the Highlanders massive line. and boy do they do a great job in the trenches. These guys play smashmouth football to the highest tilt. Once first year starting QB Andrew Hammett gets more comfortable calling signals, you'll see head coach Tony Partrito open things up a bit more. Darrien Bell is an underrated gem in the Adams backfield and Alec Prechtel is a bonafide playmaker on both sides of the ball. Jordan Sanders, Nick Di Miro, Matt Rea, and Austin McClelland are as tough as they come.
9. Walled Lake Central (3-0) - Miracle season in the works over at WL Central. The Vikings have a dynamite offense, led by a real diamond in the rough, Joe Diamond - a dual threat at QB. K.J. Schultz is elusive and Sam Pearlstein is a gamer on the end, quickly becoming Joe D's top target.
10. (a) West Bloomfield (2-1) - Cameron Fields, Cameron Fields, Cameron Fields. If you blink, you might miss him on his way into the end zone.
10. (b) Auburn Hills Avondale (3-0) - Mitch Robinson coming into his own under center. Ray Tillman and Tony Harris starting to wreck havoc on opposing DB's and Wr's, and D.J. Lynch is everywhere, all the time for head coach Steve Deutch's heavy-stinging Yellow Jacket squad.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback

Props to Junior QB Josh Harris - 11-15 for 220 yards and two TD's - and his sizzling cast of Yellowjacket teammates for taking Birmingham Detroit Country Day cross-state to Muskegon and coming out with a OT win over Muskegon Catholic Central. Harris is so top choice, you might think he was a Grade-A porterhouse steak.  He connected with TE/S Jason Ray for a 14 yard TD in the closing seconds of regulation to send things into OT. Sophomore scatback John Hill motored in from 2-yards out on the first possession of the extra period and the Yellowjackets 'D' took over from there. Chris Eddins and the 'D' line stuffed MCC on fourth-and-goal from the one inch line to clinch the dramatic victory.  DCD will be tested against a feisty Highland Park team in Week 4.
How good is Novi Detroit Catholic Central? They just keep mowing down opponents in unmercilessly fashion, pounding the rock and clogging the run on defense like few others in the state of Michigan. Senior fullback Niko Palazetti continues to bang between the tackles for big yardage and nine TD's. This kid is like a mix of former Buc's all--pro Mike Alstott and Steelers hall of famer Franco Harris. Plus his name sounds like something out of an old NFL films reel - Palazetti playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field seems to roll of the tongue.
CC v. RIce on Saturday - just saying the words gets me excited!!!
Rochester Hills Adams keeps chugging along despite losing a boat load of talented players from last season's 8-1 squad. QB Andrew Hammett is doing an outstanding job of running the Highlanders' offense through 3 games, utilizing his feet a little more than his arm, but gettng the job done just the same. At 2-1 and not too many bumps in the road ahead on its schedule, look for Adams to win at least 6, maybe 7 this season and once again qualify for the playoffs.
Royal Oak Shrine and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes appear on a collision course for the rights to call themselves CHSL champs. The defending champ Knights have looked solid since dropping their opener to Detroit Douglas. Junior QB Branch Kampe is filling Jamal Townsell's shoes in spades - he's scored 8 tds in the last 2 games. WOLL is undefeated and junior QB Mike Sullivan is making a bid to be called one of better signal callers to ever play for the juggernaut Lakers program 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gridiron Memories - A Passing Fancy

With so many great QB's in the area this year, I thought I'd take some time to look back on some of the best prep field generals I've had the pleasure of seeing play in person
1. Mill Coleman/Drew Stanton  - Farmington Hills Harrison:  Mill "The Thrill" Coleman was one of the most electrifying to ever play the position in the history of Oakland County. The definition of the ultimate dual threat in the late-1980's, Coleman went on to star at wide receiver at Michigan State in the early-1990's. Stanton was a dynamite prepster and today is a back-up for the Detroit Lions. Both Coleman and Stanton took home state championships under legendary Hawks head coach John Herrington
2. Lloyd Abramson and Bill Feldmaier - Birmingham Seaholm: Abramson and Feldmaier were both great signal callers for the Maples in the early-to-mid 1990's. Abramson was a strong-armed gunner who ended up on scholarship at Northwestern. Feldmaier, who cut his teeth in the pit of the fire as a sophomore replacing an injured Abramson in Seaholm's epic run through the 1993 playoffs, played at Buffalo in the late-1990's. Under Feldmaier's keen leadership and great game-management style, the Maples pulled off the upset of the decade, knocking off nationally-ranked Birmingham Brother Rice in the District Final.
3. Diallo Johnson/Jermaine Gonzales/Justin Siller - Orchard Lake St. Mary's: Johnson, Gonzales, Siller, and even today's Eaglet star QB Robert Bolden (Penn State), seem to be all cut from the same cloth - stellar athletes, with great arms and equally-dangerous speed. Johnson and Gonzales - both state champions with their respective teams -both wound up being receivers at Michigan. Siller is currently calling plays under center at Purdue.
4. Daunte Robinson - Pontiac Central: Latter-day prep version of current Lions' QB Daunte Culpepper in his prime, Back in the 1990's Robinson was the complete package for the Chiefs. A prodigious stat-monger, he was big, physical, and gutsy. Sadly, Robinson was killed in a drive by shooting several years back.
5. Devin Gardner - Inkster: Best High School QB I've seen in quite some time. His game is smooth as they come. And the kid loves the pressure cooker. Watch your back, Tate Forcier, DG';s coming to the A-squared next year.
Honorable Mention
Mike Clinton/Kyle Rance - Troy
Mark Morgan - Lahser
Matt Baker/Derek Canine/Steve Merchant - Brother Rice
Paul Van Damn - Rochester
Jacob Ball/Andrew Waszak - Rochester Hills Adams
Kevin Deighton - Berkley
Matt Kives - DCD
Dave Watkins - Walled Lake Western
Jason Whalen - Walled Lake Central

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 3 Picks

Confucius says, The Great Burnzini is a very wise man and if you listen to his prognostications regarding prep football, you will be wise too!!!
Coming off a 28-6 record in my first two weeks of picks, I have a hard time blaming Confucius for giving me props. As many an ESPN Sportscenter anchor once said, I am indeed, "En Fuego". Lets home the heat continues and here we go with looking into the crystal ball for week 3.
Week 3 - Top Games
Troy v. Clarkston - Marquee showdown of the night in the OC, pitting a pair of veteran-laden 2-0 teams with first place in the OAA at stake. Clarkston's grandstand is certain to be packed and no doubt the atmosphere will be electric. Basically, it will be everything that is great about high school sports - Two talented squads, each with outstanding and rabid fan bases, getting it on with early-season bragging rights at stake. Dakota Bender finally breaks out, going for 200-plus and a trio of scores in a narrow Wolves 'W'.
Clarkston 28 Troy 24
Farmington Hills Harrison v. Southfield - The second best matchup of the night for sure. Blazing hot Harrison QB Vince Salatino and his cagey "Posse" of productive receivers - I'm talking to you Aaron Burbridge, Sidney Coleman, Jailen Kelly, and David Evans - head into Blue Jays Stadium to face a doggedly-determined Southfield team that has one heckuva running game and a playmaking-inspired defense. The mega-surprising Salatino and the Herrington boys remain toasty, slipping by the host 'Jays in dramatic fashion - Salatino to Burbridge for the winning score in double OT
Harrison 34 Southfield 31 (2 OT)
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Highland Park - Are the Polar Bears for real? After a 2-0 start to the year, including a nice road win vs. highly-thought of Orchard Lake St. Mary's team in Week 2 goes a long way for their case for legitimacy. However, Al Fracassa's Warriors are not the Eaglets. I am quite content to say there will be no let down coming off relatively-easy wins against UofD-Jesuit and Toledo St. John's in the first two weeks of the season and Rice will bring Highland Park down to earth by halftime. This one will be over quick. Frankie Popp goes for another four scores this week, minus the the four picks and the BR Orange and Black Tribe roll, sending a message crosstown to CC that they're ready for their week 4 grudge match.
Broteher Rice 45 Highland Park 17
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Monroe - Niko Palazetti. Niko Palazetti. Niko Palazetti......what a player! Is this guy a a semi-truck or a football player? His battering-ram style of running is a throwback and he's been carrying a good chunk of the offensive  load for CC with the absence of backfield mate Anthony Capatina due to injury. Senior QB Sam Landry is starting to come into his own and is playing at the highest level he has since taking over under center. CC wins big, also announcing to all, including Rice, that they too are more than ready for week 4 at home against the Warriors.
CC 43 Monroe 20
Oak Park v. Lake Orion - Are you kidding me? Oak Park=punching bag! Love me some Mario Evans, but the Knights just aren't even close to LO's stratosphere. 
LO 49 Oak Park 14
Melvindale ABT v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's - This is a game that should not be taking place.  
OLSM 55 Melvindale ABT 7
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Muskegon Catholic Central - The Yellowjackets first real test of the season. Josh Harris gets his swagger on, hooking up with Kenny Knight for a couple of Td tosses, to help bring home a 'W' for DCD. Jason Ray gets a TD apiece on offense and 'D', while collecting a team high dozen tackles.
DCD 24 MCC 20
Troy Athens v. Southfield-Lathrup - Justin Davis and Montrell Robinson get busy and give the Chargers home crowd a lot to cheer about. Davis runs for two scores, Robinson catches two, and Justin Taliafero continues to impress.
SL 35 Athens 21 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bonus Bytes - Rapid Fire

Heading into Week 3, the OC is home to three of the top 5 quarterbacks in the state of Michigan  - stats wise that is. Clawson's Rob Feeman is number 3, with 561 yds passing and 6 tds, Ortonville-Brandon's Shane Mahaffey is number 4, with 521 yds passing and 6 tds, and Harrison's Vince Salatino is number 5, with a county-best 7 tds through the air. Props goes out from Burney to these first-rate field generals.
Wow, how good has Salatino been this year so far! If i didn't know better this past weekend, I would have thought head coach John Herrington brought back Hawks legend and current Detroit Lion Drew Stanton and put him under center. That's the level Herrington's Italian Stallion QB is playing at. Congrats, Vince....keep it up, buddy!
I'm starting to fall in love with Harrison's receiving corps too. Aaron Burbridge, Sidney Coleman, David Evans, and Jalen Kelly, have been all over the field the first two weeks, catching virtually everything thrown their way by Salatino. I'm going to nickname them "The Posse" after the 1987 Super Bowl champs Redskins receiving trio of Gary Clark, Art Monk, Ricky Sanders of the same moniker.   
I thank my lucky starts everyday that the OC is home to two of the most epic coaching figures in the history of the state of Michigan. I'm talking about the aforementioned Herrington and Brother Rice's Al Fracassa. How lucky are the kids that get the opportunity to play for them? Deciding whose better between this pair of sideline titans is like trying to figure what tastes better, a hot fudge sundae or a piece of homemade apple pie.
Here's hoping MSU-bound Taylor Calero, Southfield Christian's mega-defensive lineman and tight end, makes it back soon from a hamstring injury.
I love the fact that Troy's Chris Wheeler and West Bloomfield's Cameron Fields are doing double duty on offense, splitting time between the running back and receiver positions. Last year, Fields was striclty a wide out and Wheeler strictly a tailback. This season, their respective coaches, James Thomas and Gary Griffith, want to maximize their stud players versatility and are mixing it up. Now, that's the kind of out-of-the-box type of thinking I like to see from our area's coaches. And, make no mistake about it, Thomas and Griffith are two of the best.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Week 2 Rankings

Oakland County Top 10 - Week 2
1. (a) Novi Detroit Catholic Central (2-0) - Made a gigantic statement in its blow out win against Hudsonville on Thursday night. Most fundamentally-sound team in the area and possibly the entire state. Overly-convincing victory over Hudsonville, comeback winners against Lake Orion in week 1, give the Shamrocks the slightest edge over Rice in the polls.
2. (b) Birmingham Brother Rice (2-0) - On a collision course with CC for a shot at the CHSL title. Frankie Popp (177 yds, 4 tds, 4 int against Toledo St. Johns on Saturday) and Kevonte-Martin Manley (over 200 yards of total yards and 2 receiving TDs) shine bright on offense and Justin Cherocci, Jimmy Pickens, and Michael Brown hold it down on 'D' for the Warriors. Pickens, a top recruit at safety, is starting to make a name for himself as one of the more productive running backs in the county.
3. Lake Orion (1-1) - The Dragons proved that Week 1's fourth quarter meltdown against Hudsonville was just a hiccup by thoroughly dismantling a solid West Bloomfield squad on Thursday. Its pick your poison with these guys - LO can hurt you in so many ways. Phil Serzo, Vinnie Booker and the 'D' stepped up big, containing WB's speedy receivers on the ends and plugging the gaps in the middle to stuff a tough Lakers running attack.  
4. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (2-0) - Junior QB Josh Harris is a straight out stud with possibly the best touch on his throws as any in a gunslinger-stacked Metro-Detroit area . The Yellowjackets had just as an easy time with UofD-Jesuit in week 2 than Rice did in week 1, showing that DCD, D4 state finalists the past two seasons, is competing at the same level as the big boys in D1.
5. Clarkston (2-0) - In my opinion, Taylor Scarlett is the most underrated QB in the state, bar none!!! Thoroughbred running back Dakota Bender has yet to bust out big this season and the Wolves are still 2-0. With Bender, a shifty runner who is great catching the ball in the flat, starting slow, Scarlett (5 tds against Troy Athens last Friday) and others have been forced to pick up the slack. However, Clarkston fans have no worries, its only a matter of time before he's shredding opposing defenses again just like he did last season.
6. Troy (2-0) - Gary Griffith-coached teams are always going to be tough, but this particular group is one of Griffith's most hard-nosed ever. The '09 Colts are just a bunch of lunch-pail type players, more grit than glam and eager to mix it up in the trenches.
7. Southfield (2-0) - Wow, is junior tailback Dae'von Robinson (6 tds and over 400 yds on the ground through two games) good! His star-making performance in the squad's '08 playoff run into the D3 final four  was obviously just a glimpse of the type of player this kid can be. And its only going to get better. Once the Blue Jays QB's Brandon Watkins and Justin Danzy get more comfortable with the system and playing at the varsity level - an experience made much easier with Robinson and fullback Mo Davenport playing behind the in the backfield - Southfield could end up being as good as last year. 
8. Farmington Hills Harrison (2-0) - The Hawks are back! Coming off a down year and uncharacteristic playoff miss in '08, Harrison looks lethal once again, scoring blow out wins in its first two weeks of play. Senior signal caller Vince Salatino (nearly 500 yards passing and 7 TD tosses, tops in the OC ) is by far the biggest surprises of the early season. Salatino, in his first year starting under center, has showed the poise of a veteran and the proficiency of a highly-recruited field general - something Salatino is not. His targets, snazzy wideouts Aaron Burbridge (2 tds), Sidney Coleman (2 Tds), and David Evans (2 tds), are making a good case that they are the best receiving corps around.
9. West Bloomfield  (1-1) - I'm not worried about head coach James Thomas' Lakers feeling bad for themselves for getting lit up at home last Thursday against Lake Orion. In fact, I'm quite certain that Cam Fields and the like will be more than ready to play when Clarkston comes to town in two weeks. 
10. (a) Rochester Hills Adams (1-1) - The Highlanders looked strong on the road against crosstown foe Stoney Creek last Friday night. The skills players might not still be there for Adams - where have you gone Waszak, Wilson, Reynolds, and Barterian, a Highlanders nation turn its lonely eyes - but that line remains solidly intact and boy are they sturdy. Jordan Sanders looked like Barry Sander when he returned an Int for a pick last week. 
10. (b) Auburn Hills Avondale (2-0) - QB Mitch Robinson showed some moxie on in week 1, taking some of the pressure off RB Francois Matthews and FB/LB D.J. Lynch. Ray Tillman and Tony Harris are potential world-beaters at the wide out spots.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Martin-Manley Is Going Bowling

Birmingham Brother Rice sparkplug wide receiver, Kevonte Martin-Manley has verbally committed to play his college ball at Bowling Green. A three year starter, Martin-Manley is one of the most prolific receivers in the state of Michigan. Also an exceptional basketball player, up until early this year, the question of what sport he would end up playing at the next level was still up in the air. After a spectacular junior season on the gridiron where he ate up stats like a runaway Pac-Man, Martin-Manley decided that his future was in football. Martin-Manley, a smooth-moving, dead-eye shooting combo guard, will be one of the leading returning scorers in Oakland County when the prep hoops season tips off in December. With Martin-Manley's commitment, Bowling Green, who got a verbal from D.J. Lynch at the start of August, has now inked two of the best athletes in the area. Although he didn't get into the endzone in his team's week 1 smack down of UofD-Jesuit, he scored two touchdowns through the air and had over 100 return yards in Rice's 42-21 handling of Toledo St. John's yesterday. Bowling Green has gotten itself a true playmaker and in my opinion some of the bigger programs in the Midwest missed the boat by not showing a lot of interest in the 6-1,sticky-handed speedster. Martin-Manley might not have gotten the attention from the big schools - some of this might have been because up until relatively recently nobody knew for sure if he was going to be playing football in college - , but make no doubt about it, he is a big time player.  

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Saturday Forecast

Birmingham Brother Rice v. Toledo St. John's - The Warriors go down to Ohio and take care of business. Star receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley gets into the end zone for the first time this season and goes over the 100 yard mark and running backs Jeff De Claire and Jimmy Pickens get TD apiece on the ground in a big Rice win. St. John's is no slouch - one of the better private school team's in Ohio - but coach Fracassa's bunch are on a mission to keep pace with arch-rival CC, who had a huge "W" against cross-state power Hudsonville on Thursday.  
BR 28 T. St. John's 17
Detroit Allen v. Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes - You can't stop Junior QB Mike Sullivan, you can only hope to contain him!
WOLL 38 Detroit Allen 7
Oh, yeah one more thing - SUPERSONIC UPSET SPECIAL:
Bet the farm, Western Michigan won't just cover the points on Saturdat afternoon in Ann Arbor, the Broncos are going to come out of the Big House with a victory. Hail to the Victors no more. Probably unfairly so, but Rich Rod's days in the A-squared are numbered. No freshman quarterback is going to be able to take this group of Wolverines to a plus-500 record and that my friends is a promise. Terrell Pryor struggled out of the gate last season and he was the second coming and the Bucks were in considerably better shape talent wise than UofM is this year. Brace yourself Wolverine fans, its going to be another long season. And its starting with a big fat "L" in your own crib at the hands of a spirited Western squad, led into battle by Tim Hiller, one of the best signal callers in the Midwest.
WMU 24 UOFM 20
on a brighter note - watch for OC'ers Dion Sims (Orchard Lk. St. Mary's) and Edwin "Rock" Baker (Oak Park), to make some noise for the Sparties this year at Tight End and Running Back respectively.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Friday Forecast

WEEK 2 - Top Games
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. UofD-Jesuit - The Yellowjackets have too much firepower for UofD to handle. Josh Harris and Kenny Knight connect on a couple of long touchdowns, Brett Smith gets one too and Lee Bailey continues to shine in the backfield for Country Day. Senior safety Jason Ray caps off a big Y-Jackets win with a INT return for a score.
DCD 37 UofD-Jesuit 17
Clarkston v. Troy Athens - The host Red Hawks keep it competitive early, but Clarkston finally breaks out on offense in the second half. Jake Duzey gets two more TD's for Athens, however, its not nearly enough. Wolves senior slinger Tyler Scarlett shows his merit, throwing for 3 scores and running for another two.
Clarkston 45 TA 20
FH Harrison v. Rochester - Harrison's victory parade rides on as the Hawks offense remains strong. Vince Salatino throws for three, two to Aaron Burbridge - do we have another Mark Dell on our hands in this talented young soph - , and Chris Pride puts a pair into the end zone on the ground.
Harrison 35 Rochester 13
Highland Park v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's - Robert Bolden, Gary Hunter, and Earnest Thomas take out their frustrations from last weeks opening season loss to EGR on the visiting Polar Bears. Bolden throws for four TD's and surpasses the 300 yard mark, Hunter scores one on 'O' and 'D', and Thomas has two picks and two fumble recoveries as the Eaglets storm out to a big lead and never look back.
OLSM 52 HP 7
Rochester Hills Adams v. Stoney Creek - Sorry SC, the Highlanders are coming to town and they want to make a statement. Andrew Hammett comes up huge, throwing for 250 yards and two TD's, leading head coach Tony Partrito and Adams to the road win. The Adams faithfull, who always travel well, will be making the short drive home with big smiles on their faces.
Adams 28 SC 21

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Thursday Forecast

WEEK TWO - Thursday's Top Games
Lake Orion v. West Bloomfield - Anticipate some high-octane action as the Dragons and Lakers face off in the biggest game of the night Part I. Cam Fields continues to go buck-wild on opposing "D's", breaking off another 200 total yard performance and a couple of TD runs, but head coach Chris Bell and LO need a win bad and will scrap it out in the end. Sean Charette connects with Mike Nelson for the winning score in the game's closing seconds.
LO 35 WB 28
Hudsonville v. Novi Detroit Catholic Central - Biggest game of the night Part II features an all-out war in the trenches between these two cross-state powerhouses.  Shamrocks' battering-ram Niko Palazetti goes for another trifecta of touchdowns and leads CC to the win. Junior LB Justin D'Agostino, always around the ball at the right time, causes and recovers a key fumble to preserve the big Shamrocks "W". 
CC 27 Hudsonville 24
Southfield v. Birmingham Seaholm - Dae'von Robinson goes for another 200 yards and three scores and the Blue Jays keep Seaholm winless on the young season. Southfield just as too much athletic and physically-superior talent for the Maples to keep pace.
Southfield 28 Seaholm 14
Birmingham Groves v. Farmington - Matt Craven, Jason Wilson, and Dae'von Scarber make life tough on Chad Davis, Collin Parson and the rest of the Grove-sters, giving the crowd at the Farmington home opener something to cheer about.
Farmington 24 Groves 17  
Walled Lake Central v. Novi - Joe Diamond leads the Vikings into enemy territory and helps Central come out with razor-thin last second win.
WL Central 21 Novi 20
Detroit Loyola v. Auburn Hills Avondale - Francois Matthews and the Yellow Jackets keep rolling1
Avondale 31 Loyola 10
Royal Oak Shrine v. Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest - The riveting receiving duo of Miscovich and Jones go ballistic against a wet-around-the-ears Knights secondary.
RH Lutheran Northwest 42 Shrine 20
Walled Lake Western v. Livonia Franklin - Senior signal caller Sam Welch gets the Warriors going and Marc Sanchez and his boyz on the "D" finish the job.
WL Western 17 Franklin 7
Southfield Christian v. Detroit Urban Lutheran - Devon Bailey is just too good. Connor Michaels shines under center and connects with Devin Lazer and Aaron Hoffenbacher on a pair of scores apiece.
SC 49 Urban Lutheran 25
Troy v. Royal Oak - Bobby Wunderlich, Damon Brown, Chris Wheeler and Co. pour it on. Senior safety Bobby Pardun gets two picks in a big Colts win.
Troy 45 Royal Oak 6

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Football Rankings - Week 1

Oakland County Top Ten - 9/1/2009
1. Birmingham Brother Rice - The Warriors talent-edge at the skill positions give them the slight advantage over arch-rival CC in the rankings. Junior Jimmy Pickens does it all for coach Fracassa - playing big on both sides of the ball. Outside linebacker, Timmy "Jumbo" Hamilton is a rising star
2. Novi Detroit Catholic Central - Big and physical in the trenches and fundamentally sound across the board, CC is not flashy, just plain good. Senior fullback Niko Palazetti is the best goal-line power back in the state, Jeff Sherman anchors things up front, Mike Kinville and Justin D'agostino are an imposing linebacking tandem.
3. Birmingham Detroit Country Day - The best junior class in the area, featuring big time offensive threats Josh Harris (QB), Lee Bailey (RB/CB), and Kenny Knight (WR). Jason Ray (S/LB) and Chris Eddins (DL) headline the Yellowjackets stingy "D" that pitched the shutout in their opening night 33-0 over Seaholm.
4. Lake Orion - Must rebound from a tough-loss to Hudsonville, where the Dragons blew a three-possession lead in the fourth quarter. Head Coach Chris Bell's troop will show what there made of this week against upstart West Bloomfield. LO has arguably the most balanced offense in the area - QB Sean Charrette, RB's Kim Bruce & Marques Stevenson, OL Ben Walker and Pat Fehlberg, and WR Mike Nelson all major contributors on last season's D1 state finalist squad return - however some question remain on defense after surrendering a major lead-cough up against Hudsonville on Friday night in Ypsilanti.
5. West Bloomfield - Explosive and underrated. All-purpose stud Cameron Fields is skyrocketing up recruiting charts with his recent on the field-showings - alas last thur against Groves when he went for 220 combined yards and 2 TD's. Aaron Foster and Matt Judan are great athletes with keen ball-hawking instincts on 'D"
6. Troy  - Senior QB Bobby Wunderlich dodged a bullet by recovering from a pre-season injury to lead the Colts to an opening night victory against Rochester. His 71 yard TD run in the first quarter erased any doubt about his health and showed how dangerous head coach Gary Griffith's running game is. Tailbacks Chris Wheeler and Damon Brown are two of the best runners around
7. Clarkston - Taylor Scarlett, Dakota Bender, Dustin Gamble, Bryan Haslinger- enough said!!!
8. Orchard Lake St. Mary's - Penn St-bound signal caller Robert Bolden looked good in the team's loss at East Grand Rapids last week, but needs some help from his surrounding cast. Still, the Eaglets are highly-skilled and if they gel this fall, George Porritt may have another return to Ford Field on his hands this November. 
9. Southfield  - Dae'von Robinson is the most underrated running back in the state. His 240 yard, 3 TD performance against Farmington showed his value is overwhelmingly high. Maurice Davenport, one of the better LB's in the county and Detroit Henry Ford-transfer Kevin Harmon, a genuine playmaker who can rush the QB just as well as drop back and defend the pass, lead a tough and athletic Blue Jays "D"
10. AH Avondale - Senior tailback Francois Matthews is a superstar. D.J. Lynch holds its down on both ends of the ball for the Y-jackets.