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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Playoff Picks (RD 1)

Overall Season Record - 98-27
My Top Opening Round Playoff Games In Oakland County:
Livonia Franklin v. Novi Detroit Catholic Central – Franklin=Tackling Dummy . Rocks win big!
CC 45 Franklin 7
Lake Orion v. Clarkston – Dragons will have chip on their shoulder coming back into the Wolves' Den, after losing badly last week. I thought last week's game would go down to the wire but it didn't. This week will – I guarantee it!! LO's Kym Bruce breaks loose for the game-winner late.
LO 33 Clarkston 27
Utica Eisenhower v. Pontiac – Get bust my main man, Dominique Shaw! Do I see a 150 and 2 TD performance in the near future? Yes, I do!
Pontiac 27 Eisenhower 24
Troy v. Warren Mott – Senior QB Bobby Wunderlich comes up big for the Colts and finds Bobby Pardun for a TD in the closing seconds to pull out the win.
Troy 24 Mott 23
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Walled Lake Central – Rice's tougher than leather schedule will pay dividends against a sure to be scrappy Vikings squad. Junior LB Jumbo Hamilton picks off Central in the 4th and returns it for a TD to sew things up for the Warriors.
Rice 31 WL Central 21
Fenton v. Rochester Hills Adams – The Highlanders' "D" is bananas this year! I sense a first round shut out.
Adams 28 Fenton 0
Berkley v. Southfield – By far, the toughest call of the weekend for me. I love me some Dae'von Robinson just as much as I love me some Terrell Porter. Its like trying to chose between a fat, juicy grade A steak and a freshwater Maine Lobster. Alright here goes: Porter gets buck like Michael Redd and the Bears miracle season continues!
Berkley 26 Southfield 23 (OT)
Dearborn Annapolis v. Birmingham Detroit Country Day – You can't stop the Yellowjackets Lee Bailey, you can only hope to contain him.
DCD 27 Annapolis 17
Detroit Loyola v. RO Shrine – The Knights play Jay-Z and its "on to the next one" for coach Goddard and the Blue and Gold.
Shrine 24 Loyola 20
Farmington v. Farmington Hills Harrison – I get the feeling that Hawks QB Vince Salatino is about to go all VINCE SALATINO on the Falcons. Three in a row against their crosstown rivals is too tall a task for a Farmington squad that will be poised for a great run in 2010.
Harrison 34 Farmington 24
Hazel Park v. SCS Lake Shore – Dominic Wiggins is just too good!
HP 28 Lake Shore 27
Deckerville v. WOLL – The Lakers give the home crowd a lot to smile and cheer about as they break out of their two game slump by slugging-out Deckerville.
WOLL 25 Deckerville 14

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Colts Win Streak Takes Casualties

It's sad to hear that Troy might not be at full strength going into its first round playoff contest against a solid, 7-2 Warren Mott squad on Friday night. These guys should be able to take their best possible shot at Mott and because of injuries they might have a difficult time doing that. The Colts late-season effort has been nothing short of spectacular. After getting beat bad by Lake Orion and falling to 2-3 on the year, Coach Griff's gridiron gladiators rallied hard core down the stretch, reeling off three straight wins to qualify for their third straight playoff appearance. To say the least, the Colts nation has reason to be proud!!!
But through the bitter, yet ultra-rewarding combat that found Troy locking down another trip to the post-season, the Colts lost senior running back/wide receiver/defensive back Jovaun Parker. After making a key fumble recovery that set up the winning score against Southfield in Week 8, Parker went down in the first quarter of Troy's season finale win against Athens with a broken leg.  From what I hear, senior WR/DB Cameron Laffeyette is a little banged up too.
That all said, I'm quite certain that Coach Griff's boyz will be fighting and playing their tails off when the Friday night lights turn on later this week.  
Could "The Wizard" Chris Wheeler pick up the slack and alazazam his way to 200 total yards and 3 TD's. I think he just could. Don't worry JP, The Wizard has got your back!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playoff Primer - Best Time of The Year!!

My most anticipated match-ups for Week 1 of the '09 Playoffs
Lake Orion v Clarkston – A rematch of last week's showdown for the OAA-Red crown, won in convincing fashion by the Wolves. You can bet the house Lake Orion will put the lackluster performance behind them and come strong this week to open up the post season. C-Town senior captains Tyler Scarlett and Dakota Bender are on a mission. The Dragons "D" is significantly better than their showing last week.
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Walled Lake Central – The host Vikings own the better record, but Rice is the more battle-tested team. The two programs' contrasting styles will make for must-see prep action on the field – the Warriors like to open it up and stretch the field, while Central likes to pound it between the tackles.
Berkley v. Southfield – The Bears and the Blue Jays, a pair of squads' with superior running games, will team up in this one to make for a good ole' fashioned smashmouth-fest. The marquee chess match of the night will be between Berkley's Terrell Porter and Southfield's Dae'von Robinson, arguably the two best junior tailbacks in the area. This is like Magic and Bird in their prime in the 1984 NBA Finals and we get to see it in the first round. I for one can't wait!
Farmington v. Farmington Hills Harrison – Senior QB Vince "The Prince" Salatino played ER doctor last Friday and stopped the Hawks' near-critical bleeding by delivering a surgical-like performance dissecting the Stoney Creek secondary for 160 yards and 3 TD's, including the winning scoring toss in the 4th quarter. Not to be outdone by his rival signal caller on the other side of the city, Farmington's Matt Craven played the role of hero for the Falcons and catapulted them into the playoffs with his 15-yard TD pass in OT against an upset-minded North Farmington team. Two hot field generals is sure to make for a lot of bullets…er… touchdowns, flying across the field when the Hawks and the Falcons collide.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Final Football Rankings - Adios '09

Final Regular Season Football Rankings2009
1 Novi Detroit Catholic Central (9-0) – Defense came up big against OL St. Mary's on Saturday in the Shamrocks' 7-0 win in the Prep Bowl. Punter Corey Smith made a game-saving tackle on a Gary Hunter return late in the 4th quarter and Butch Herzog picked off OLSM QB Robert Bolden in the end zone as time expired
2 Clarkston (9-0) – QB Tyler Scarlett and tailback Dakota Bender are both ultra-versatile. Although neither seem to be getting a ton of looks from the big boys in the recruiting process, I think both could be "sleepers" and surprise a lot of people if a local Mid-Major took a gamble and got them on campus next year.
3 Madison Heights Madison (9-0) – Eagles Playbook Option 1-10: get the ball to Valdez Showers!! Not that I'm telling head coach Drake Wilkins anything he doesn't no already.
4 Lake Orion (9-0) – No doubt in my mind the Dragons will show resiliency and bounce back strong after getting torched by Clarkston to close out the regular season. I fully expect QB Sean Charette and the boyz to come out playing like their uniforms are on fire as soon as the playoffs kick off later this week.
5 Rochester Hills Adams (7-2) – Are Highlanders Matt Rea, Alec Prechtel, and Marc Benecquisto better carrying the ball on offense or stopping the run on defense?  Oh, the questions that must keep head coach Tony Partrito and his staff up at night.
6 Hazel Park (7-2) – Senior fullback Dominic Wiggins is so money and I'm not quite sure if enough people know about it! I'm gonna make it my goal to spread the word about the Brandon Jacobs-esque Wiggins.
7 Walled Lake Central (8-1) – Just like I thought, it didn't take Vikings sideline general, Bob Meyer, much time to get his team back on track after getting pasted by Grand Blanc in Week 8: Central closed out the season with a pasting of its own, lambasting Wayne Memorial 49-13.
8 Pontiac (7-2) – I'm I dreaming or are the Phoenix getting ready to host a playoff game?
9 Birmingham Detroit Country Day (6-3) – Junior tailback/cornerback Lee Bailey has that Boom Boom Pow that has all his opponents jocking his style!
10 Farmington Hills Harrison (6-3) – Who needs Batman and Robin? Facing a fourth quarter deficit in a must win game on the road against Stoney Creek last Friday, the Hawks looked to their own comic book superhero: Vince "The Prince" Salatino. The OC's prep prince delivered a royal beating to the Stoney Creek secondary (158 yds and 3 TDs), capped by a 13-yard scoring pass late in the game to win it for the Hawks and send them to the playoffs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 9 Picks

Week 9 Picks - Top Games In Oakland County
Detroit Southeastern v. Birmingham Brother Rice – The Warriors need the win and I think they'll get it. Senior QB Frankie Popp delivers a dose of dramatic triumph, finding Kevonte Martin-Manley for the winning TD in the game's closing moments and Rice celebrates its way into the post-season.
Brother Rice 26 Southeastern 24
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (The Prep Bowl @Ford Field) – The Shamrocks' three-headed monster of a backfield consisting of Niko Palazeti, Anthony Capatina, and Jon Savakus help douse any hopes of an Eaglets playoff spot. It's sad too, because St. Mary's has been playing so well as of late. I see the Eaglets giving CC a fight, but I can't see them overcoming such an overwhelmingly- powerful Shamrocks attack.
CC 31 St. Mary's 17
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep v. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (The Prep Bowl @ Ford Field) – Do I sense an upset in the making when the Fighting Irish get Richard on a neutral field? Yes, I do!
NDP 34 AA Gabriel Richard 33 (OT)
Lake Orion v. Clarkston –  My hardest pick of the week.  I love both of these squads and they both bring so much to the table, it's hard to find give an edge to either. That said, my gut is telling me that the Dragons will play spoiler to C-Town's bid for an undefeated regular season and pull out the win on the road. With the clocking winding down, sophomore signal caller Sean Charette hooks up with Danny Ney for the game-winning TD.
LO 28 Clarkston 24
Birmingham Groves v. Birmingham Seaholm – Get busy my main man, Shawn Conway! Make the Great Burnzini happy and lead the Maples to a third straight win and while you're at it, collect a pair of touchdowns for youself.
Seaholm 24 Groves 17
Berkley v. Auburn Hills Avondale – You can't stop Bears junior running back and former Hesiman winner Eddie George-clone Terrell Porter, you can only hope to contain him. Berkley's magic season continues onward into the playoffs.
FH Harrison v. Stoney Creek – The Cougars show their fangs and make it five straight. Jake Miller has been playing off the chain on both sides of the ball for SC head coach Calvin Gross. Trent Drumheller boots the winning field goal as time expires, sending the Cougar crowd into a state of delirium.
SC 27 Harrison 24
Berkley 28 Avondale 27 (OT)
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Pontiac – I think Pontiac big play wideout Dominique Shaw is almost as good at football as Dominique Wilkins was at basketball. Who would of thought?
Pontiac 27 DCD 24
 Southfield Christian v. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook – SC senior tailback Devin Bailey is straight bananas!
SC 30 Cranbrook 25
Madison Heights Madison v. Clawson – Madison is Apollo Creed and Clawson is Rocky Balboa. And, oh by the way, it's Rocky II, not the original. SUPERSONIC UPSET SPECIAL!!
Clawson 41 Madison 38
Troy v. Troy Athens
The Colts' dynamic tailback Chris Wheeler is so money and I think he knows it!
Troy 27 Athens 20
Wayne Memorial v. Walled Lake Central – Senior signal caller Joe Diamond glitters all night long for head coach Bob Meyer and the Vikings.
WL Central  32 Wayne Memorial 20
Rochester v. Rochester Hills Adams – This won't be pretty!
Adams 43 Rochester 13
Lakeland v. Milford – When Lakeland QB Eric Kelly and Milford QB Luke Johnson lock horns, you could bet your bottom dollar that an old fashioned shootout is a certainty on Friday night. The Mavericks do their best Tom Cruise impression and play Top Gun over the Eagles.
Milford 37 Lakeland 31
Hazel Park v. Ferndale – Dominic Wiggins goes all DOMINIC HIGGINS and the Vikings roll!
HP 34 Ferndale 20
Southfield-Lathrup v. Southfield – The Blue Jays get hostile and leave the Chargers all black and blue after the final whistle blows.
Southfield 28 SL 21

Week 8 Rankings

Oakland County Top Ten  - Week 8
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (8-0) – I've decided to nickname the Shamrocks backfield "Earth, Wind, & Fire".  QB Sam Landry has been playing as solid as the frozen earth, FB Niko Palazeti blows over the opposition like a brisk, strong wind, and TB Anthony Captina brings the fire every time he touches the ball.
2. Lake Orion (7-1) – Who should I give the ball to, the touchdown-toting Kym Bruce or the scintillating goal-line guru Marques Stevenson?  Just one of the, oh,  so many difficult questions that must keep head coach Chris Bell awake at night.    
3. Clarkston (8-0) – With shifty senior running back Dakota Bender starting to heat up and ultra-savvy senior quarterback Tyler Scarlett playing the best ball of his career, the Wolves are primed for a great showing this week at home against Lake Orion.
4. Madison Heights Madison (8-0) – The Eagles are flying to epic heights and could be the most under-appreciated team in Metro Detroit. Whirling Dervish of a tailback, Valdez Showers, knows how to pour it on for second year head coach Drake Wilkins.
5. Pontiac (7-1) – The clock on the OC's Cinderella story and its inspirational run through the season ain't anywhere close to hitting midnight.
6. Rochester Hills Adams (6-2) – Junior field general Andrew Hammett brings the hammer to opposing defenses!
7. Hazel Park (6-2) – The Miami Dolphins of the 1980's might have had the "Killer B's" defense, but this year the Hazel Park Vikings have the "Killer D's" offense led by the battering ram backfield combo of Dominic Wiggins and Dustin O'Malley.
8. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (4-3) – Robert Bolden and the Boys in Red are shaping into form and riding a two-game win streak at just the right time: With a hulking and hungry CC team lurking on the horizon this week at Ford Field.
9. Walled Lake Central (7-1) –  I have no doubt that head coach Bob Meyer will have his Vikings back in tip top shape in no time after taking one on the chin in not-so-pretty fashion to a stellar Grand Blanc squad last weekend. Look for the Central wrecking crew to finish the regular season strong this week against Wayne Memorial.
10. Birmingham Brother Rice (5-3) – Justin Cherocchi is the best linebacker in the state, bar none!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NDP Firestorm

Alright, i'd feel re -missed if I didn't address those who have responded - rather passionately I must say - to my most recent Monday Morning QB blog entry regarding the recent Pontiac Notre Dame Prep-Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes football contest. On Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Irish stomped the Lakers 49-6 and advanced into this weekend's Prep Bowl at Ford Field.
First let me say, I stand corrected on the size of the respective teams' line play. And by no mean were my comments meant to disparage the tremendous outing by NDP, a team and program I'm very high on overall. I simply meant to say I don't think that Class D schools should be forced to playoff against Class B schools for the right to play at Ford Field. On second thought, its probably just as unfair to have the smaller "B" schools match up against the big "A" schools. Maybe the solution is to have three different Prep Bowls, instead of just two - An "A" game, a "B" game, and a "C-D" game.
NDP deserves props and I gave them such in my last blog entry. However, I do see how by my commenting about the size-differential in the following paragraph, it could be construed that I'm marginalizing the Fighting Irish' impressive accomplishment - a thorough and complete dismantling of WOLL, earning them a playoff trip and a chance to "play in the dome", that warrants commending. This was never my intention and I apologize if anyone at NDP was offended. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback - The A Little NFL In The OC

Is it just me or could Pontiac's Dominique Shaw be the best receiver in Oakland County? Emerging out of nowhere, Shaw, a lanky 6-4 senior, has been the OC's own version of Randy Moss all season long. Much like Moss, this kid has hands made of glue and catches basically everything that comes his way. And, oh by the way, he's a genuine playmaker. In Saturday's win over AH Avondale, Shaw caught the tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and then followed it up with another TD in OT – both on Shaw's patented fade routes – to win it for the blazing hot Phoenix, winners of seven in a row.  He might have been off the radar before the season got on its way, but he's squarely in the middle of it right now. Shaw might have just played his way into a college scholarship.
Props to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep – The Fighting Irish (5-2) deserve congratulations for defeating Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes 49-6 in the Prep Bowl "semi-final" and advancing to Ford Field this Saturday to square off with Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.
Here's my only issue: Why should WOLL, a stacked D8 team that was 7-0 prior to the loss, be forced to match up against a much larger school like NDP in this game in the first place. I attended this game and the size differential between these two schools' players was tremendous. The NDP players were all twice the size of the WOLL players, especially across the lines -the Fighting Irish literally man-handled a darn good Lakers team. If I were the CHSL commissioner, I would prefer seeing the mid-sized school's like NDP and AA Gabriel Richard, play up against the likes of CC, Rice, and De La Salle, in the race for the Prep Bowl then play down against the likes of smaller programs like WOLL and RO Shrine. Plain and simple, it just seems the fair thing to do.  
WL Western broke out of a major funk in a major way on Friday, winning a shoot-out over Hartland 40-33. The Warriors, a team with lofty expectations in the pre-season, are now 3-5.  They literally ran wild on Friday night. Sam Welch and Derek Russell combined for over 350 yards on the ground in the win. Welch had 200 yards rushing and two scores, while Russell gained 160 yards and one score.
If Dominique Shaw is the OC's very own Randy Moss, then Berkley's Terrell Porter and Southfield Christian's Devon Bailey could easily be county clones of Adrian Peterson and Ronnie Brown. Porter – playing the role of Peterson – continued his stat-mongering and went for a breathtaking 197 yards and five touchdowns in the Bears 35-21 win over North Farmington. Bailey, doing his best Ronnie Brown, danced all over Dryden for 317 yards and four touchdowns in the Eagles 35-14 victory. Berkley and SC are both 5-3. The Bears are trying for their first playoff appearance in a decade when they travel to Avondale this week – the Yellow Jackets also need a win to get in – and SC travels to Cranbrook this Saturday for a shot to clinch their second straight trip to the post-season.

OC Superkicks

I have mixed feelings with the start of the state soccer tournament on Monday. On one hand, I'm super excited for the inevitable drama and passion that any one-and-done style tourney brings to the table. On the other hand, I'm sad for the end to such a great regular season and the fact that we only have a few weeks left of watching some of the unbelievable soccer skill this county has to offer.
This got me thinking – a scary thing, I know! Lol…:
Back in the day the premiere AAU basketball team in the Metro-Detroit area was the Superfriends. A veritable who's-who of hoops talent , the Superfriends – made up of the likes of prep phenoms and future NBA'ers like Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Voshon Leonard -, were renowned for running through, over, and around all comers during off-season tournaments and summer leagues.
Oakland County has so many all-out studs on the soccer field this season, I think they should all get together in the off-season and form a travel team called, "Superkicks." They could barnstorm across the state, even the country, and deliver butt-kickings to opponents far and wide.  
Imagine having a line-up of Lake Orion's Reed Losee (a county-leading 35 regular season goals), Catholic Central's Josh Gatt (one of the nation's top attacking-midfielders and committed to national power, Indiana), Rochester Adams' Joey Dillon, Troy's Nate Hicklin, DCD's Kotaro Mitsuhashi, Walled Lake Northern's Kyle Rutz, and Walled Lake Western's Adam Wright and Kyle Alesheski on offense. And then a defense anchored by players like Troy's Chris Cunningham, DCD's Brett Boukari, and Brother Rice's Adam Gorski amongst others. Goalkeeping duties could be shared by Troy's Matt Smolinski, CC's Wes Harding, Rice's Danny Torriglia, DCD's, Justin Fragnoli, and WL Western's Blake Hunter.
To paraphrase my boy, Chris Farley from the Chris Farley Show, "That would be awesome!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 8 picks

Week 8 - Top Games In Oakland County
Overall Season Record - 82-18
Rochester Hills Adams v. Lake Orion – This is the biggest game of the night by far; Neither team has lost since Week 1 and both are playing at an elite clip. Unfortunately for the visiting Highlanders, the host- Dragons have too many weapons on offense for them to overcome. Playing in front of what's sure to be an imposing and loud enemy grandstand doesn't make things any easier.
LO 24 Adams 20
Southfield v. Troy – The loser of this game probably won't make the post-season, so this one will be a scrap-fest until the final whistle. What makes this game even more intriguing is that it's a showdown of two of the best backfields in the state – The Blue Jays' Daevon Robinson, Alonso Graham, and Mo Davenport vs. The Colts Chris Wheeler and Damon Brown.   
Troy 27 Southfield 21
University of Detroit-Jesuit v. Novi Detroit Catholic Central – Palazetti, Capatina, and Kinville may get most of the pub, but the play of senior signal caller Sam Landry shouldn't be overlooked. He's been rock-solid under center all year long, proving the ultimate game-manager of a quarterback. Following a less-than prolific offensive showing against De La Salle last week, the Shamrocks' 'O' is bursting at the seams to bust out big once again.
CC 45 UofD-Jesuit 7
 Auburn Hills Avondale v. Pontiac – Can the Phoenix victory parade march onward? Will Pontiac head coach Greg Ganfield make it six in a row? I say YES!
Pontiac 28 Avondale 24
Birmingham Seaholm v. West Bloomfield – You can't stop Lakers RB Vince Simpson, you can only hope to contain him.
WB 33 Seaholm 16
Stoney Creek v. Oak Park – Just like in the Troy-Southfield match-up, the loser of this contest most likely won't have a ticket into the post-season in its future. This one will go down to the wire, that's a guarantee. Bolhuis to Cobb for the winning score!
SC 21 Oak Park 17
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep v. Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes – Another sure to be down to the wire classic in the CHSL tourney. Both Mike Frakes of the Fighting Irish and Mike Sullivan of the Lakers are top-tier field generals and each squad has excellent rushing attacks.  Making a pick on this one is a heckuva tough task. But that's what they pay me for, right?
WOLL 35 NDP 34 (2 OT)
Clarkston v. Farmington Hills Harrison – The Wolves take a cue from Jay-Z's new Blueprint 3 album and is "On to the next one", staying undefeated going into its regular-season finale against Lake Orion.
Clarkston 31 Harrison 28
Madison Heights Lamphere v. Clawson – The Trojans need wins against very good Lamphere and Madison teams in the final two weeks of the season to guarantee themselves a reservation in the playoffs. This is no walk in the park, to say the least. With its season on the line, senior Rob Feeman goes all ROB FEEMAN and Clawson lives to fight another day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week 7 Rankings

Oakland County Top 10 - October 14, 2009
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (7-0) - Survived its first real test of the season last week against De La Salle and remained unscathed. After Friday night's win over the host Pilots, the Shamrocks can say they're officially battle-tested, having to scrap back from a their first deficit of the season. The comeback performance will bear fruit in the playoffs.
2.Lake Orion (6-1) - Sophomore QB Sean Charette gets better each game. Its scary to think what level this kid will be playing at in two years.
3. Clarkston (7-0) - Senior running back Dakota Bender on the verge of exceeding swagger level one hundred thousand trillion!
4. Rochester Hills Adams (6-1) - Senior wide receiver/defensive back Austin McClelland playing with a purpose. That's actually quite a bit of an understatement. McClleland's playing this season for his brother, giving true meaning to the phrase that blood is thicker than water.
5. Walled Lake Central (7-0) - Resounding win over Walled Lake Western last Friday shows the Vikings are starting to peak at the right time.
6. Madison Heights Madison (7-0) - Valdez Showers, Jeremiah McQueen, Tony Lowry, Danny Larkins.....enough said!
7. Pontiac (6-1) - The Phoenix should start wearing patches on their uniforms that say, 'Approach w/ Caution - Flammable".
8. Birmingham Brother Rice (5-2) - The pop of senior gunslinger Frankie Popp and the Warriors passing offense has had to pick up the slack for a relatively unproductive rushing game in the team's two losses. Rice needs to get things in order fast if it wants to make some noice in the post-season.
9. Farmington Hills Harrison (5-2) - The Hawks need a strong performance against Clarkston this Friday night in order to jumpstart its motor, which has been running on empty the past five quarters.
10. Hazel Park (5-2) - Head coach Scott Guthrie has one of the more underrated backfields in the county in Dominic Wiggins and Dustin O'Malley who combined for over 400 yards on the ground in the Vikings win over AH Avondale last Friday night. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bonus Bytes - Quick Hits

What's happened over at Walled Lake Western this year? Getting smoked at home by WL Central last week was like adding a truckbed of fuel to an already towering inferno of a season. Unfortunately, the Warriors' ship is sinking. That's a fact.  The only thing they can do now is buck up and finish strong. I have faith that Sam Welch and the tribe will do just that!
Kyle Novak has looked great under center this season at Rochester Lutheran Northwest. Replacing Matt Rolf, last season's all-conference field general who led the Crusaders to a league title, Novak has made certain the NW offense hasn't missed a beat and is playing at championship level ball once again. At 6-1, the Crusaders will be a tough-out in the tourney.
I love the how stout Pontiac Notre Dame Prep's 'D' played against Bloomfield Hills Andover last Friday night in its 42-14 mangling of the Barons. The Fighting Irish held Andover to negative-eight yards rushing over the entire contest, while their offense racked up 311 yards on the ground. Senior QB Mike Frakes and the 5-2 NDP crew will take on an undefeated Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes squad this coming Saturday for the rights to play in the annual Prep Bowl on October 24 at F ord Field.
Clarkston senior running back Dakota Bender, who started a tad slow this season coming off a 18 TD-junior campaign, finally busted loose for a mega-outing last Friday against Oak Park. Bender delighted the Wolves ' home crowd by running for 140 yards on 19 carries while dancing across the goal line five times.  The ole' Blue and Gold are 7-0, making a serious play for a conference title, and Bender's play is a big reason for it. Kudos to you, Dakota, we all know you're doing everything in your power to bring home a conference title.  Break out the butter and jam, 'cause it looks like DB and his boyz in blue are on a roll.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Morning QB - Living On A Prayer

First and foremost shouts should go out to the squads at OL St. Mary's, West Bloomfield, Walled Lake Northern, Lakeland, Troy, Southfield, and Clawson who each kept its post-season hopes alive with big wins in WEEK 7 and moved its respective records to 4-3. These teams are living on a wing and a prayer. And watching them get the job done this week was encouraging to see. Every game from here on out is a playoff game and these teams know it.
St. Mary's bounced back big from a disappointing shutout loss to Catholic Central in Week 6 and took down a good Brother Rice team 34-27 in triple OT on Saturday afternoon. This game was an instant classic to put it mildly! Senior QB Robert Bolden (Penn State) sprinted 10 yards for a TD run on the first possession third OT to give the Eaglets the lead and then teammate Allen Robinson recovered a fumble in the end zone on the ensuing Warriors' possession to sew things up. Enrique Pardo led St. Mary's offensive production on the stat sheet by rushing for a game-high 103 yards. The Eaglets started the year 0-2. With the heart-pounding and much-needed 'W', the team's record is now all-evened up at 3-3.  
De spite the loss, Rice senior QB Frankie Popp mesmerized the crowd with a sensational aerial performance. Popp connected on 25-of-49 passes for a season-high 365 yards and 3 TD's. Rice ace receiver, Kevonte Martin-Manley (Bowling Green) caught nine balls for 141 yards and two scores. The Warriors fall to 5-2 as a result of the heartbreaking defeat.
Just like St. Mary's, Troy had to rebound from a listless outing in Week 6 when it lost to Lake Orion. The Colts 38-20 win over Southfield-Lathrup constituted a Shaquille O'Neal like effort in that department for sure. Three Troy players eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark – "Bad Bad" Damon Brown carried the ball 14 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns, Chris "The Wizard" Wheeler had 20 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Bobby "The Wonder Boy" Wunderlich, the Colts QB, had 11 carries for 116 yards and one score. Head Coach Gary Griffith and his crew have a megawatt home game against Southfield this coming Friday. I'm exciting to see a showdown of two of the county's best backfields in this match-up. I love me some Dae'von Robinson, Alonso Graham, and Mo Davenport, but right now I'd give the edge to Wheeler and Brown.
West Bloomfield has now won two straight after trouncing Troy Athens 3 5-14 on Friday night. Running back Vince Simpson sparked the Lakers offense with 92 yards on the ground and three rushing scores. Chris Heald had 15 tackles and a pair of sacks on defense.  Senior wingback Cameron Fields scored two touchdowns as well – a 6-yard run and 35 pass from Phil Brown. The Lakers try to make it three in a row when they host an upstart Seaholm team, which claimed its first win of the season against Rochester on Friday, this weekend.
Lakeland and Clawson each opened up cans of destruction on its opponents in Week 7. The Eagles and Trojans both put up impressive offensive outings. Senior QB Rob Feeman threw for 225 yards and four TD's in Clawson's 47-0 thrashing of Mt. Clemens. Senior RB Howard Crippen ran for 142 yards and two scores in the decisive Trojans' 'W'.
Eric Kelly passed for 187 yards and two TD's in Lakeland's 34-8 toasting of Waterford Kettering.  Running Back Jacob Brown ran for 104 yards and two TD's and Alex Chludzinski caught five balls for 147 yards and one score.
After losing a 10-7 game to Walled Lake Central in Week 6 on a late-fourth quarter TD pass, the20Knights of Walled Lake Northern have flipped the script. On Friday night, Northern beat Waterford Mott 10-7 and did it in dramatic fashion when Jason Tucker found David Auger for a 5-yard touchdown strike to propel the Knights to the victory.
Props are also deserved for AH Avondale's Ray Tillman and Hazel Park's Dominic Wiggins. who both had monster games on Fiday night. Tillman caught 9 balls for 210 yards and three TD's in his team's 48-31 loss to Hazel Park. Wiggins carried a ironman-like 40 times for 252 yards and 3 TD's for the Vikings. HP's Dustin O'Malley ran for 170 yards and two TD's to augment Wiggins' dynamite day 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 7 Picks

Overall Season Record - 75-15
Week 7 Picks - Top Games In Oakland County
Farmington Hills Harrison v. Rochester Hills Adams – Without a doubt the biggest game in the OC in Week 7. Harrison will have to show some resolve after taking it on the chin against Farmington last week and the Adams "D" will have to show fortitude since it hasn't faced a passing attack like the Hawks all season. Highlanders junior QB Andrew Hammett ties the game up in the final seconds with a spectacular run into the end zone and then hits senior wide out Austin McClelland for the winning-2 point conversion.
Adams 36 Harrison 35
Hazel Park v. Auburn Hills Avondale –  The Vikings will have to play one heckuva game to beat first place Avondale at home. Sophomore slinger Mitch Robinson has proven his merit under center this year for head coach Steve Deutch's Yellow Jackets this season and will make certain that the OC's own Purple People Eaters won't have a letdown against H-Park with second place Pontiac coming=2 0up on the schedule in Week 8.
Avondale 28 HP 17
Troy Athens v. West Bloomfield – After a 150 Yard, 3 TD outing in last week's marathon win over Southfield-Lathrup, senior RB Vince Simpson is on the verge of reaching swagger level one hundred-thousand-trillion.
WB 34 Troy Athens 20
Walled Lake Central v. Walled Lake Western – Field general extraordinaire Sam Welch and the Western Warriors need a win in this game bad. If only in order to salvage some respectability from what's been a disappointing campaign thus far.  With SUPERSONIC UPSET SPECIAL
WL Western 27 WL Central 24
Pontiac v. Berkley – Keeping their win streak intact won't be easy this week for the Phoenix as they head on the road to face a slippery and upset-minded Berkley team.  Pontiac fans have no fear, Jonathon McKnight and Dominique Shaw won't let you down.  < /SPAN>I see the Phoenix nudging past the Bears in OT to keep the Greg Ganfield victory train motoring forward.
Pontiac 30 Berkley 27 (OT)
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Warren De La Salle – You can't stop CC's Mac-Truck of a fullback Niko Palazeti, you can only hope to contain him. Palazeti runs for 150 yards and breaks loose into the end zone three times and the Shamrocks win again.
CC 35 De La Salle 10
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's –  The Eaglets are desperate and Rice hasn't quite hit its stride.  The Warriors predicament changes on Saturday, as Rice takes care of business on the road. Sadly, St. Mary's season is on life support and Al Fracassa's tribesman are about to pull the plug. Not sure if the scheduling of EGR that past two seasons as the team's opener has been the best idea for the OLSM program.
Rice 28 OLSM 21
Oak Park v. Clarkston – Wolves QB Tyler Scarlett goes all TYLER SCARLETT on the visiting Knights, throwing for 250 yards and three scores.
Clarkston 31 Oak Park 17
Southfield-Lathrup v. Troy – Senior running back Chris Wheeler has that Boom Boom Pow to the tune of 175 yards and a pair of TD's!!  
Troy 20 S-Lathrup 14
Lake Orion v. Royal Oak – Trying to decide whose better between RB's Kim Bruce and Marques Stevenson is almost just as hard as trying to decide whose the better receiver Mike Nelson or Danny Ney.
LO 38 RO 12

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 6 Rankings

Oakland County Top 10 - October 8, 2009
1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (6-0) – The Bob Seger classic "Like A Rock" should be the CC theme song this year 'cause that's how solid these guys are. Senior fullback Niko Palazeti is the hardest runner in the state, bar none. A local DI school should really think about taking a flier on this kid.
2. Lake Orion (5-1) – The Dragons' hit the field every week with the most lethal offense in the county. Not only does head coach Chris Bell have the best backfield in the area in Kym Bruce and Marques Stevenson, his receiving corps is as formidable as they come. LO's stable of receivers – Mike Nelson, Danny Ney, Alex Mayo, Zach Zott – come at the opposition in towering waves, giving sophomore QB Sean Charette a multitude of options when dropping back to pass.
3. Clarkston (6-0) – Head coach Kurt Richardson and the boys have to watch their backs and be on their "A Games" from the opening snap with an upset-minded, not to mention considerably underrated Oak Park squad heading into the Jungle this Friday night.
4. Rochester Hills Adams (5-1) – With considerably less high profile talent than they had on the roster in '08, the Highlanders are a better overall team in '09.  Unlike last year, the Adams 'D' is full of playmakers. Huge showdown with FH Harrison coming up on Friday to decide the league title and that's all head coach Tony Partrito and his squad are thinking about right now.
5. Birmingham Brother Rice (5-1) – The Warriors still haven't come close to playing their best football yet. I'm not sure if that's good or bad?
6. Madison Heights Madison (6-0) – RB Valdez Showers is a straight up stud! Sophomore Danny Larkins is all over the field.
7. Walled Lake Central (6-0) – Senior QB Joe Diamond is a 'gamer' in every sense of the word, a genuine coach on the field and natural leader.
8. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (5-1) – The DCD athletic program should consider changing its football teams' name from the Yellowjackets to the Road Warriors in=2 0honor of how well head coach Dan MacLean has his squad playing away from home.
9. Farmington Hills Harrison (5-1) – The Hawks mettle will be tested this week on the road against RH Adams. How they play on Friday night – win or lose – will tell me how good this team really is following a slip up against Farmington in Week 6.
10. Pontiac (5-1) – The way the Phoenix are playing right now has me thinking they could run the table.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Boyd's Bombers

Its all bombs away over in Waterford these days as longtime Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes head football coach, Mike Boyd, has his team playing some championship-level pigskin once again. The Lakers are 6-0 and poised to be one of the favorites heading into the Division 8 state playoffs later this month. WOLL's 28-20 win over Royal Oak Shrine on Sunday clinched the program another Catholic League regular season crown and guaranteed itself a place in the postseason for the 13th consecutive year. Shrine took home the CHSL Intersectional-2 regular season title last year.
The win over Shrine, now 4-2 and most likely a playoff team too, ruined the Knights Homecoming. The primary party crasher for the Lakers was fullback Anthony "The Coz Man" Caiozzo, who punished Shrine defenders for a game-high 134 yards on the ground and three TD's. The Coz Man's performance also served as a bit of payback from the Lakers to their rival Knights. Last year, Shrine's star tailback Anthony Cade ran wild on the WOLL 'D', rushing for over 350 yards and four TD's. It looks like the Coz Man wanted to give the Shriners a little taste of their own medicine.
After Shrine's Raymond Brown scored early on via a 6-yard run to make the score 7-0, the Lakers reeled off 28 unanswered points to take what appeared to be a comfortable three touchdown advantage. But the Knights came roaring back and closed to within one score at 28-20 with under two and half minutes to play when junior quarterback Branch Kampe found Bertram Marks for a 65-yard touchdown pass. However, Boyd's boys did the job on defense in the game's closing moments and escaped the unfriendly waters of Royal Oak with a "W". WOLL's defense held Shrine on four straight downs in the final seconds of the game to secure the victory. Coz Man and the Lakers rushing attack was doing so much damage against the Knights, Boyd didn't even need to call on the pistol-like arm of junior signal caller, Mike Sullivan, to take to the air to pull this one out. That's a great sign! 
Boyd has won his share of state championships at Lakes - both on the gridiron and on the softball diamond- ,and with the way his troops are playing right now, there very well could be another one just around the corner.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback - Falcons' Cresting

Farmington Falcons head coach John Bechtel was in the market for a new kicker last week and luckily he made the right choice. With his standout placekicker Marco Iaderosa on the sidelines with an injury, Bechtel snagged Ben Fleck from the school's soccer team and put him in charge of the team's kicking duties in the Falcons showdown with Farmington Hills Harrison. And boy did Bechtel's decision pay off. Fleck delivered in the clutch, drilling a 30-yard field goal with under ten seconds remaining to complete a fourth-quarter comeback and help Farmington prevail 30-22.
On the subject of money performances with the game on the line, Brother Rice's Chris Padmos blasted through the line and into the end zone from 2-yards out with under a minute to play to clinch a 35-22 win over Dearborn Divine Child.
West Bloomfield was desperate for a win this past weekend and the Lakers came through with a pretty big one - literally. I'm talking big numbers across the board when the WB matched up with Southfield-Lathrup on Saturday. The Lakers eventually won the track meet of a game, 53-41. Running back Vince Simpson led the WB attack rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns, including a 95-yarder in the first quarter.  Cameron Fields, the Lakers all-purpose stud, racked up the yardage as well and collected a long touchdown catch on a perfectly placed pass from quarterback Phil Brown. Evening its record at 3-3, West Bloomfield needs to win out to guarantee itself a place in the post-season.  In a similar position last year, James Thomas' troops bogged down late and came through with three straight wins to qualify for the playoffs. I see a familiar scenario playing out this year, with the Lakers taking games the next two weeks against Troy Athens and Seaholm, giving them a 3-game winning streak going into a pivotal final week of the season game on the road at Oak Park.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook moved to 4-2 with a 41-36 defeat of Detroit University Prep on Saturday afternoon. Stefan Czarnecki rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns to highlight a powerful Cranes' running game. Teammate Christian Croom more than held his own in the stat column, augmenting Czarnecki's performance by rushing for 106 yards and two touchdowns himself. Cranbrook takes to the road next week to face off with Harper Woods.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Great Burnzini - Week 6 Picks

The Great Burnzini pitched a shut-out last week, going a perfect 14-0 on his picks. Wow, that's the kind of performance that could make Tigers' ace Justin Verlander justice. Lets hope the hot streak continues.
Overall Season Record - 61-11
Top Games In Oakland County - Week 6
Auburn Hills Avondale v. Bloomfield Hills Lahser – Francois Matthews, D.J. Lynch and company get the job done on the road.
Avondale 28 BH Lahser 21
Dearborn Divine Child v. Birmingham Brother Rice – Frankie Popp and the boys make it two in a row
Brother Rice 34 Divine Child 14
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Muskegon Heights – Head Coach Dan MacLean has packed his regular season schedule with tough road games to prepare his team for another lengthy playoff run.  So far, the team h as responded well, winning at Muskegon Catholic Central in Week 3 and at Flint Carmen-Ainsworth in Week 5 . The Yellowjackets keep stinging on their return trip to Muskegon and bring home a 'W'.
DCD 24 Muskegon Heights 20
Royal Oak v. Clarkston – The Wolves will devour the Ravens. It's sad to see a once powerful program – remember Royal Oak HS was once mighty Kimball HS – fall on such hard times.  And sadly, brighter skies don't seem to be on the horizon.
Clarkston 45 Royal Oak 10
Farmington v. Farmington Hills Harrison – There is no let down in store for the red-hot Hawks in this one.  Last year's loss to the Falcons is front and center in Harrison's mind and that will be inspiration enough for the Hawks to make quick work of their cross-town rivals. After throwing the ball less than 10 times in Week 5, Vince Salatino gets back on track and tosses three TD's in the Harrison route.
Harrison 41 Farmington 18
Hazel Park v. Pontiac – A huge crowd will most likely be on hand to root on the soaring Phoenix as they take on first place Hazel Park at Wisner Stadium. Mark my words: Pontiac won't disappoint the home crowd. Jonathon McKnight continues to dissect and dismantle opposing secondaries and Martez Shelton collects a couple of sacks and a fumble return for a score.
Pontiac 27 Hazel Park 24
Berkley v. Ferndale – You can't stop the Bears Terrell Porter, you can only hope to contain him. Berkley QB Jim Birnie finds big play WR Josh Owens for the winning score and the Bears pull the upset, clipping the Eagles' wings in their own house.
Berkley 24 Ferndale 17
Troy v. Lake Orion – The Colts will keep this one close through three quarters, until Lake Orion breaks out late and runs away with a high-scoring victory.
LO 38 Troy 25
Madison Heights Madison v. Madison Heights Lamphere – This game is set to be an all-out war. Both squads are playing great football right now and this one is sure to go down to the wire. Lamphere QB Ryan Horvath is a monster. Madison QB Tony Lowry is so smooth on the field he reminds me of Mike Lowry (Will Smith in 1995's Bad Boys). Horvath finds all-purpose dynamo Mitch Kozlowski for a late score to win it for the Rams
Lamphere 34 Madison 27
Livonia Stevenson v. Novi – The Wildcats are all heart this year.  But a team can only overcome so much on the injury front. Going on QB number three in six weeks, Novi will have trouble keeping up with UofM-bound Austin White and the Stevenson offense. Tim Hartman performs adequately under center, however, it's not nearly enough.
Stevenson 33 Novi 16
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Orchard Lake St. Mary's – The Eaglets' playoff hopes are about to hit another bump in the road, as they head to the quite unfriendly-confines of Shamrock country on Sunday afternoon to face a   CC team that' s focused, fierce, freakishly-good. Firery fullback Mike Alstott…er  Niko Palazeti pounds his way to another two scores on the ground and Sam Landry adds two through the air in a Shamrocks triumph.
CC 28 OLSM 14
Oak Park v. Troy Athens – If Oak Park pulls off the road win against the Red Hawks, a spot in the playoffs becomes a serious possibility.  I smell a legitimate shot at the post-season just around the corner for Mario Evans' tough-as-nails Knights. QB Adante Pointdexter and WR Jalen Cross hook up for a pair of scores in the OP win.
OP 27 TA 17
 Rochester Hills Adams v. Birmingham Seaholm – Andrew Hammett goes all ANDREW HAMMETT on the host-Maples.
Adams 34 Seaholm 17
Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes v. Royal Oak Shrine – I see a shoot-out in the cards when WOLL's Mike Sullivan and Shrine's Branch Kampe lock horns on Sunday. A punt return for a TD in the fourth quarter by the Knights's Burtram Mark's  proves the difference and sends the home crowd into delirium.
Rochester v. Southfield – Dae'von Robinson goes buck like Michael Redd!!
Southfield 31 Rochester 20
West Bloomfield v. Southfield-Lathrup – WB needs a win bad.  And they get it. But not before this game goes into double OT and QB Phil Brown hits Cameron Fields for the winning score.
Walled Lake Northern v. Walled Lake Central – Get busy my main man, Joe Diamond.  Northern plays tough, but the Vikings win again.
WL Central 28 WL Northern 17
Walled Lake Western v. Waterford Kettering – The victory bell at Kettering is going to be going "Ding-dong, ding-dong" cause of Ryan Dingman and his 3 TD's.
Kettering 24 WL Western 23

Mid-Season Report Card

Vince Salatino - FH Harrison
Tyler Scarlett - Clarkston
Rob Feeman - Clawson
Sean Charette - Lake Orion
Frankie Popp - Brother Rice
Josh Harris - Birmingham DCD
Robert Bolden - OL St. Mary's
Ryan Horvath - MH Lamphere
Joe Diamond - WL Central
Jonathon McKnight - Pontiac
Luke Johnson - Milford
Branch Kampe - RO Shrine
Shane Mahaffy - O-Brandon
Mike Sullivan - Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes
Niko Palazeti - Catholic Central
Kym Bruce/Marques Stevenson - Lake Orion
Dae'von Robinson - Southfield
Francois Matthews - AH Avondale
Terrell Porter - Berkley
Valdez Showers - MH Madison
Chris Wheeler - Troy
Howard Crippen - Clawson
Steve Slobin - FH Harrison
Cody Beck - Milford
Aaron Burbridge - FH Harrison
Kevonte Martin-Manley - Brother Rice
Mike Nelson - Lake Orion
Jeremiah McQueen - MH Madison
Dominique Shaw - Pontiac
Montrell Robinson - S-Lathrup
Kenny Knight - Birmingham DCD
Ray Tillman - AH Avondale
All-Around – Flex
Cameron Fields - West Bloomfield
Jason Ray - Birmingham DCD
Damon Brown - Troy
Mitch Kozlowski - MH Lamphere
Tony Harris - AH Avondale
Robert Dooley/Jabari Martin - Pontiac 
Brandon Pittman - Ferndale
Kane Hayes/Phil Serzo - Lake Orion
Dominic Mencotti - FH Harrison
De Andre Durham - MH Madison
Chris Eddins/De' Angelo Taylor - Birmingham DCD
Matt Rea - RH Adams
John Westphall - Milford 
Nick Di Miro/Jordan Sanders - RH Adams
Jeff Sherman - Catholic Central
Ben Walker/Pat Fehlberg - Lake Orion
Jeff Dean/Bryan Haslinger - Clarkston
Kyle Foreman - Berkley
Mike Kinville/Justin D'Agostino - Catholic Central
Justin Cherocchi/Tim "Jumbo" Hamilton - Brother Rice
D.J. Lynch - AH Avondale
Jackson Lewis - MH Lamphere
Mark Benequisto - RH Adams
Michael Brown - Brother Rice
Dustin Gamble -Clarkston
Gary Hunter - OL St. Mary's
Jon Savakus - Catholic Central
Tony Lowey/Danny Larkins  - MH Madison
Jimmy Pickens - Brother Rice
Martez Shelton - Pontiac
Derek Booker - Clarkston
Vince Booker - Lake Orion
Bobby Pardun - Troy