Blogs > Burney's Bytes

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Burney's Prep Football Top 10 - Dragon Fire

OC Top 10 - Week 2
1 Lake Orion – Ferocious firepower on offense, stout and steady 'D' makes the Dragons the team to beat in the OC. Junior QB and third-year starter Sean Charrette looks ultra-sharp in LO's opening game defeat of Oxford, easing fears of regression that popped up at the end of last season.
2 Novi Detroit CC – Legendary Shamrocks head coach Tom Mach is a godsend, practically every year putting out the same, high-quality, fundamentally-sound and smashmouth-inspired football at CC…2010 is no different. CC's easy handling of a quality Dearborn Fordson squad (9-1 in 2009) gives me confidence that this group of 'Rocks could very easily rock and roll their way back to Ford Field in November to defend their '09 state crown
3 OL ST. Mary's – Senior Mike Koenigsknecht – a free safety on OLSM's state-finalist squad last season – wasted absolutely no time getting comfortable in his new role as the Eaglets starting QB last weekend, torching the GR West Catholic Secondary for 175 yds and 2 TD's in his team's blow out win. Burney had his doubt last week about MK taking the reigns at QB....NOT ANY MORE. A first-rate receiving corps headlined by Allen Robinson, but also including talented supporting cast members Keith Stonestreet, Mike Sellers and tight end Blaise Salter, will provide Koenigsknecht a number of quality options in the passing game. When combined with the OLSM's fearsome 'D, head coach George Porritt's bunch of ballers put forth a dangerously balanced attack this year
4 Birmingham Brother Rice – Coming off an embarrassing opening-game loss to Detroit MLK, Burney is super confident that coach Fracassa will have his boys ready to bounce back in a serious way this week when the Warriors host Toledo St. Johns. If Week 1 is any indication,"Jumbo" Hamilton (15 tackles in Week 1) needs help/more production from his supporting cast on defense and O-line has got to give quarterback Tyler Lendzion more time in the pocket than they did against MLK.
5 RH Adams – All the talk about the Highlanders using a three-headed monster at QB this season might have been overblown. The performances by senior signal caller Andrew Hammett and junior all-purpose phenom Tony Annese, who was in the hunt for the starting field general job this summer, in a season-opening win over Clarkston last week made the case that Annese might serve the team better in the slot than under center - he had two big "chunk" plays in the third quarter that both ended up with him celebrating a TD in the end zone. Expect for Hammett to take 80-90% of the team's snaps this season with Annese and fellow junior Cory Clemons taking the rest. Running back Darrien Bell was hampered by nagging injuries against Clarkston, yet still managed to tote the ball 8 times for 39 yards, for an average of over four yards per carry. He will get more touches as the season goes on and his injuries fully-heal, which will most-likely be sooner rather than later
6 Birmingham DCD – Josh Harris+Kenny Knight+Lee Bailey+Carter Elliott+David Brown = trip to FORD FIELD in Nov!
7 FH Harrison – Vento Bros. (senior Tommy at QB, junior Jake at WR/KR/S) both look superb in debut in starting roles on varsity, leading the Hawks to a win over Novi on the road and keeping things afloat on the Good Ship Harrison until star wideout and all-around master playmaker Aaron Burbridge returns sometime in the next couple of weeks off an injury. Steve Slobin is a deceptively limber and agile running back and he has one of the best fullbacks in the state in Derek Head, leading the way for him blocking. I expect junior Devon Funchess (WR/TE) taking the place of the graduated David Evans in the Hawks offense, to have a big year
8 Southfield – Junior QB Justin Danzy was spectacular in the 'Jays win last week over Detroit Northwestern, passing for over 275 yards and connecting on a pair of TD passes to Leviticus Payne. This is a VERY GOOD sign for Southfield and will give opponents more things to worry about on the team's offense, other than just all-state running back Dae'von Robinson (107 yards and 2 TDs in WEEK 1 with a 98 yard run from scrimmage called back on a nickel-dime penalty).
9 MH Madison – Florida-bound Valdez Showers is a beast on both sides of the ball, but don't forget about Devonte Snyder, a linebacker/tight end, that is a finely-tuned running buddy for Showers and probably the team's second best overall player. Junior quarterback Tony Lowry looked more comfortable than ever throwing the ball in the team's Week 1 win over Redford Thurston, where he threw the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard pass to the Eagles No. 1 receiver, Danny Larkins.
10 (tie) Farmington Falcons – Matt Craven (QB), Jason Wilson (WR/CB), Neno Fletcher-Jones (RB), Dae'von Scarber (WR/CB) and Mitch Sanders (S/TE) make up a formidable core and ignite the Falcons attack. The five seniors hope to add some conference and/or district hardware to their already accomplished-resume of two straight playoff qualifications the past two years. Came out with all guns blazing in WK 1 defeat of West Bloomfield, serving notice that the GREEN MACHINE are going for broke this season!
10 (tie) Clarkston – New quarterback Mitch Baenzinger started out shaky but looked better and better as the game went on in a Wk 1 home loss to Adams. That's a good sign for the Jungle dwellers up in C-Town. Senior captain Chris Canada, a 3-year starter at WR/DB and a standout defense will carry the Wolves to at the very least another post-season berth and if Baenzinger develops at just a moderate rate of progression through the season, Clarkston could be poised for another long playoff run come late-October.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Decade of Dominance - Part 8

OC ALL-Decade TOP 5 – Defensive Backs
1 Grant Mason/Morgan Trent (OL St. Mary's) Mason was an All-American, grabbing two state titles and 24 career interceptions in his three varsity seasons with the Eaglets. Also a standout basketball player (winning state title on the hardwood as well) and receiver on offense, he caught 38 receptions for 10 TDs in his senior campaign in 2000. Started his college career at Stanford before transferring to Michigan for his final two seasons, where he started at cornerback for the Wolverines. He has been in the NFL since 2007 and is currently with the Pittsburg Steelers. Trent was a four-year starter at Michigan from 2005-2008 and. Graduating from OLSM in 2004, Trent was a two-way starter and two-time all-state selection with the Eaglets and is currently with in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, the team that drafted him in the 6th round of the 2009 draft. 
2 Chris Roberson/Terrill Mayberry (FH Harrison) – devastating "lockdown corner" combo for the Hawks, helping Harrison win multiple state titles in the early-portion of the decade. Roberson spent his college career at Eastern Michigan and was drafted into the NFL by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005. Mayberry played his college ball in the MAC at Bowling Green.
3 Ross Weaver (Southfield) – Started at cornerback for the MSU Spartans for parts of three seasons, named team captain his senior year in 2009. An all-state pick in his prep career with the Blue Jays in both football and track, Weaver played safety, collecting over 65 tackles both his junior and senior campaigns in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
4 Justin Swarbrick (RH Adams) – All-state performer for Adams in the early 2000s and the captain of the defensive backfield when the Highlanders claimed a state title in 2003. Swarbrick played his college career at Hillsdale.
5 Quincy Landingham (BH Lahser) – Dominating two-way stud for head coach Dan Loria in the mid-2000s, going for over 1000 yards and simply being a terror headlining the Knights defensive backfield while sparking Lahser's run to the Final Four in 2006. First committed to MSU, Landingham wound up at Wisconsin for his freshman year before transferring to Miami (Ohio).
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coming Through in The Clutch

With the game on the line in their season-opener against Redford Thurston Saturday, Madison Heights Madison head football coach, Drake Wilkins, looked to his team's supporting cast instead of its marquee leading man.
Trailing virtually the entire contest, Madison finally pushed in front of a feisty Thurston squad with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Wilkins called the numbers of his top pass-catch combination, instead of all-state running back Valdez Showers.
The faith Wilkins put in his junior QB-WR combo of Tony Lowry and Danny Larkins proved well worth it. Facing a fourth-and-long and a 14-13 deficit with 5:19 left to play in the game, Lowry hit Larkins in stride for a 37-yard touchdown pass and the Eagles rallied for a 19-14 win.
Showers might not have scored the game-winning touchdown but his presence was more than felt throughout the heated affair. Oakland County's No. 1 rated player, Showers, who verbally committed to Florida just last week, ran for a game-high 160 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. Expected to play cornerback in college with the Gators, he snared a key interception with under two and a half minutes remaining and demonstrated his lockdown cover skills throughout on a talented Thurston receiving corps.
Madison played mistake-filled football in the first half and fell behind 14-7. The Eagles committed a costly four turnovers in the opening 24 minutes of action. Wilkins and his boys cleaned things up in the second half and didn't cough the ball up another time the rest of the way. Thurston (returning a large portion of an 8-3 squad in 2009) on the other hand was plagued by the turnover bug the entire game and totaled 6 turnovers on the day.
Threatening to score late to go back ahead, Thurston's drive and hopes of a comeback were thwarted by the veteran and gutty Madison defense. Senior linebacker Devonte Snyder intercepted a Thurston pass in the closing seconds of the game to sew up the 'W' for the Eagles. Snyder, a college recruit on defense, is playing some tight end this season and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Lowry in the second half to pull Madison within a point at 14-13. Lowry, also getting looks by the college scouts, completed 16-of-28 passes for 170 yards and two scores and showed signs of improvement from last season in his decision-making skills and his ability to read defenses.  
The road stays rocky for the Eagles next week as they travel to conference power Marine City for their next game. Last season, Madison went 11-0, grabbing league and district titles before getting bounced from state tournament play in the regional finals by losing 27-13 to Jackson Lumen Christi.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Five For Fighting - Good Friday

OC Top 5 – Performances on the Prep Gridiron Friday Night
1 Matt Gatski (RH Lutheran NW RB) – Gatski busted through all the GAPS in the Plymouth Christian defense in NW's thrashing of the Eagles, rumbling for a career-high 235 yards on the ground and 3 rushing TDs
2 Steve O'Connell (Clawson QB) – Replacing a Trojans legends in the graduated Rob Feeman, O'Connell played out of his mind in his first start under center, picking apart the MH Bishop Foley defense for 294 yards and 2 TD's through the air on 17-23 passing.
3 James McDonald (Troy RB) – Forget a farm, the Colts' Old' McDonald had an effort worthy of an entire royal estate  in his team's thorough defeat of Romeo, rushing for 160 yards and 2 TDs
4 Drew Williamson (Milford RB) – Beck gone, Williamson in: playing his first game as the Mavericks starting ball carrier replacing a stat-monger in Cody Beck, Williamson rushed for 173 yards and 4 TDs
5 Jake Duzey (Troy Athens WR) – Look out Big Ten, this future Hawkeye is about to get on a HOT STREAK. With 172 all-purpose yards, including a 50 yd TD reception on offense and 3 sacks on defense in the Red Hawks 12-point win over Warren Mott, Duzey (committed to Iowa) has the Athens faithful talking playoffs for the first time in a while.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Great Burnzini - Back on The Block part 2

OC Top Games – Friday
RH Adams v. Clarkston – If you want a sure bet this season for a new star of the gridiron in Oakland County, look no further than Highlanders senior RB Darrien Bell. A three-year starter on defense, Bell will see 20 touches a game this year on offense in a variety of formations and packages. Wasting little time to acclimate to his new role, DB shreds a very good C-Town defense for a 150 yards and 2 scores, leading Adams to triumph in the unfriendly confines of The Jungle…er…the Wolves home field.
Adams 17, Clarkston 10
Oxford v. Lake Orion – This first game of an renewed rivalry will be remembered for the skewering offensive performances by the Dragons Marques Stevenson and Danny Ney; Stevenson swallows up the 'Cats 'D' for 175 yards and 2 TDs and Ney catches a TD and returns a KO for one too, as LO provides Oxford a rude awakening in its inaugural appearance in the OAA
LO 34 Oxford 17
Dearborn Fordson v. Novi Detroit CC – This compelling affair will come down to special teams and that's where Shamrocks 3-year starter Justin D'agostino comes in. JD boots the game-winning field goal as time expires, making it 15 straight wins for Coach Tom Mach and the boys at CC
CC 22, Fordson 19
FH Harrison v. Novi – With all this talk about how good junior WR Aaron Burbridge is, some people have forgotten how good senior RB Steve Slobin is……those aforementioned people will have their memories refreshed on Friday when "The Slo DAWG" jukes and jives his way to 125 yards and a pair of rushing TD's. Evan Patton, Derek Head and the 'D play tough and help the Hawks leave Novi happy
Harrison 27 Novi 18
Canton v. WL Central – The Vikings take this one down to the wire, but the Chiefs Davion Stackhouse is a beast of a running back and ultimately proves too much to handle for Central.
Canton 33, WL Central 28
Berkley v. Ferndale – You cannot stop Bears running back Terrell Porter, you can only hope to contain him!
Berkley 25 Ferndale 21
Detroit MLK v. Birmingham Brother Rice – Jimmy Pickens goes all JIMMY PICKENS on MLK, scoring two TDs on offense and one on defense and the Warriors announce their presence with authority for the 2010 season.
Rice 41 MLK 18  
Farmington v. West Bloomfield – The Falcons senior class has been waiting for this season for years, having put in as much work as humanly possible since starting to play together in junior high school. QB Matt Craven had a big summer getting stronger and more accurate and will show his new wears on the road in Week 1, passing for 235 and 3 TDs in a Falcons win!
Farmington 30 West Bloomfield 20
Pontiac v. Southfield-Lathrup – This is an intriguing match-up of two teams that both bring to the team oodles of speed at the skills-positions. Chargers WR Rashad Irvin breaks out in front of the home crowd, doing his best Montrell Robinson impression and catching two long TD's in a narrow Lathrup victory
SLathrup 24 Pontiac 23
OL St. Mary's v. Grand Rapids West Catholic – QB situation has to be solidified before the Eaglets truly take flight
GR West Catholic 16 OLSM 14
Birmingham Detroit Country Day v. Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy – DCD=shoe. Chandler Park=ant. Yellow Jackets stomp host CPA in brutal fashion, coasting to first win of the season on the road.
DCD 45 CPA 12

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Great Burnzini - Back on The Block

OC Top Games - Thursday
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BH Lahser v. Birmingham Groves – Burney's super-excited to see Bobby Brandon under center this year for the Knights and I'm sure he won't disappoint in Wk 1. Brandon hooks up with Nick Emery for a couple of scores and B.J. Lavallis and Nick Gibby-Woods each run in a score as Lahser ruins the Falcons home opener. (Look for Groves junior Keon Collier to have a big year, even if the Falcons don't)
Lahser 27 Groves 24
Southfield v. Detroit Northwestern – Dae'von Robinson runs wild….I.E. 150 3 TDs.. on the Northwestern 'D' and the Blue Jays kick off what Burney knows will be another magical season for head coach Tim Conley and his gritty bunch of players.  'Jays DB/WR Carthell Garth takes it to "The House" twice - once on defense with an INT and the other on a pass from junior qb Justin Danzy.
Southfield 34 DNW 21
North Farmington v. Birmingham Seaholm – Shawn Conway goes all SHAWN CONWAY and the Maples roll! New Seaholm QB John Glazier throws a pair of Tds and senior RB Greg Joseph gets one on the ground in the home team's victory! 
Seaholm 24, NF 14
St. Clair Shores South Lake v. MH Lamphere – This won't be an easy one for the Rams, but senior QB Ryan Horvath and all-everything slot-back Mitch Kozlowski will propel Lamphere to the season-opening win. Can u see three hook-ups for scores for Horvath and The Koz?
Lamphere 28 South Lake 27
Waterford Mott v. Milford
Senior field general Luke Johnson is one of the most underrated players in the area and will show his merit against the Corsairs on Thursday by lighting up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree to the tune of 250+ yds, a trifecta of TD's and last but not least a 'W' for Mavs in front of their home fans.
Milford 34 Mott 14

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Burney's Top 20 Players

OC Top 20 Players
1.Valdez Showers (Sr. RB-CB MH Madison)
 As special a talent as the county has seen in the past few years
2.James Ross (Jr. LB OL St. Mary's)
Most explosive defensive player in the state as a junior
3. Shawn Conway (Sr. WR/CB Birmingham Seaholm)
Despite his lack of career numbers, Conway has a refined skill-set and raw jet-power on the field few can match up with. He's the definition of dynamic whether on the football field or basketball court and without a doubt poised for a huge year on the gridiron.
4.  Kenny Knight (Sr. WR Birmingham Detroit Country Day)
Plain and simple, a playmaker in every way possible
5. Tim Hamilton (Sr. LB/FB Birmingham Brother Rice)
An elite linebacker with superior instincts and tremendous tackling ability (155 in '09)
6. Jake Duzey (Sr. TE Troy Athens)
This kid is a workout warrior and consummate competitor who has all the tools to spark the Red Hawks to a memorable season
7. Shafer Johnson (Sr. DL Southfield Christian)
Late-bloomer who has developed into legit star and is headed to IU & the Big Ten in 2011
8. Willie Beavers (Sr. OL Southfield-Lathrup)
Just a beast of a raw talent on the line for the Chargers
9. Dae'von Robinson (Sr. RB Southfield)
One of the hardest working and most durable backs in the state
10. Aaron Burbridge (Jr. WR FH Harrison)
Will be/is the next great receiver in a long line of outstanding Hawks pass catchers in the John Herrington era
11. Allen Robinson (Sr. WR/CB OL St. Mary's)
Could wind up being the No.1 sleeper as well as the No. 1 steal for whichever college that lands his services, in the state's 2011 recruiting class
12. Terrell Porter (Sr. RB/LB Berkley)
Big, long-legged and stat-munching back that will break the school's all-time TD record before his career is concluded at the end of the fall
13. Josh Harris/Lee Bailey (Sr. QB/RB Birmingham Detroit Country Day)
This primetime 'Jackets backfield will send shivers down all opponents spines when having to gameplan for this pair, not to mention their classmate and top deep threat, Kenny Knight. Harris, who took DCD to a state title game as a soph, could be the best signal caller the school has had the last decade. Bailey is a workhorse with a nose for the goal-line.
14. Conor Hart (Sr. DE/TE Birmingham Brother Rice)         
Under-the-radar pass rush prodigy set to head south to Vandy for his college career. Fast, fierce and imposing, Hart has a mega-high ceiling on his potential growth as a player.
15. Bryan Bell (Sr. OL Walled Lake Central)
Versatile, ornery (in a good way), coachable, hard working, leads by example and with his words, tenacious, Smart…aka the perfect prep lineman!  
16 Marques Stevenson (Sr. RB Lake Orion)
Great leader who will finally get the bulk of the Dragons carries this year and thus will BREAKOUT and have even a bigger year than he's had the past two
17 Jimmy Pickens (Sr. S/RB Birmingham Brother Rice)
Burney's pick as the top strong safety in Metro Detroit
18 Jason Wilson (Sr. WR/CB Farmington)
Super kid with a super work ethic and super SKILLZ and MOVZ on the field
19 Brandon Tammaro/Justin D'Agostino (Sr. DL/LB Novi Detroit CC)
Tammaro attacks quarterbacks like a man possessed and D'agostino is simply awesome on both sides of the ball and on special teams
20  Mitch Kozlowski/Ryan Horvath (Sr. WR/QB MH Lamphere)
Without question, Horvath to The Koz is the most underrated pass-catch duo in the whole area!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Burney's Pre-Season Top 10

OC Top 10
1(tie) Birmingham Brother Rice – Senior linebacker Tim "Jumbo" Hamilton leads a JUMBO-TALENTED 'D for the Warriors. New starting quarterback Tyler Lendzion will knock your socks off with his play. People might think of him as a "run only" QB right now because of last year, but all the talk this summer was how well he was tossing the rock, so expect the Orange and Black to continue to try to stretch the field.
1 (tie) Lake Orion – The Dragons have the most explosive offense in the county, headlined by a number of players that were on the '08 squad that made it all the way to Ford Field and the D1 state championship game. Qb Sean Charrette, RB Marques Stevenson, WR Danny Ney….I'm talking 'bout u!
2 OL St. Mary's – Burney loves the Eaglets "Nasty Boyz" defense fueled by the likes of James "Doomsday" Ross (LB), Cortez 'The Terminator" Riley (DL), Marcus "The Sack Man" Gleaves (DL) and Darrell "Dr. Fresh" Freeman (DL); and that offense led by two-sport tsunami Allen "Al B. Sure" Robinson (WR) and Corey Lucas (RB) will no doubt hold its own
3 Novi Detroit CC – Tom Mach's defending state champion Shamrocks took some serious hits from graduation, but the cupboard is hardly bare. Burney is fairly confident that seniors Justin D'agostino, Brandon Tammaro, Justin Messner, Andrew Erickson and Andrew Nelson will make certain that come playoff time CC will be primed and ready to make another title run.
4 RH Adams – Highlanders head coach Tony Partrito is one of the best football minds in the state and always has his teams ready to play their best. Adams has speed and size this season and should be in the hunt for another league crown. Darrien Bell will be a star running the ball for the Highlanders offense before the season is through!
5 Clarkston – Burney is a little worried about the Wolves this season, he's not going to lie. Coach Kurt Richardson's squad lost a lot of high-wattage talent off '09s final four team and considering the league the Wolves playing in (one of the most competitive in the state) the new starters in key roles will have literally no adjust period to work out any kinks. The defense is still going to be very good (shout out alert: Dellinger, Baetz, Collins, Foltz and Carpenter) and that should give the offense – inexperienced yet still retaining versatile stud Chris Canada – adequate time to get into shape. Richardson is a great motivator and he will have his team ready to compete with anyone and everyone C-Town encounters on its schedule. If rhw Wolves offense develops, this bunch could be real scary come Halloween. As Burney mentioned earlier, this is a big If in his mind.
6 Birmingham DCD – One virtual guarantee Burney can make before this season starts is that barring any catastrophic injuries that take place, the Yellowjackets, motored by the five-headed mega-monster that is Josh Harris (QB), Kenny Knight (WR), Lee Bailey (RB), Carter Elliott (DE) and David Brown (LB), will be playing at Ford Field in November! Oh, do those name sound familiar? Yeah, well they should, four of the five of them were members of the DCD state championship basketball team last March.
7 FH Harrison – Brand-new signal caller Tommy Vento has been generating a ton of buzz the past few months with his performance throwing the pigskin around. Burney saw TV last season in a relief role and when he was on JV and he has to say he REALLY, REALLY liked what he saw.
8 WL Central – I've decided to nickname the Vikings mammoth O-line tandem of Bryan Bell and Mike Strehl "The Tug Boat Twins", because these guys and their massively-intimidating PANCAKE POWER tugs the team to victory by anchoring its prodigious, run-oriented offense. Ramon Alexander could be the best d-back in the county
9 MH Madison – Valdez Showers, Valdez Showers, Valdez Showers….enough said!
10 Southfield – ATT: all opponents of Southfield HS this fall: You cannot stop the Blue Jays rambling wreck of a running back Dae'von Robinson, you can only hope to contain him!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bound To Be A Buckeye

One of the county's most versatile athletes will be taking a few hour trek down I-75 for his college playing career. Adam Gorski, a three-sport standout at Birmingham Brother Rice, has verbally committed to Ohio State University to play soccer. Gorski is a master defender that has a nose for the goal. His cornerkicks and throw-ins are top-shelf all the way and a big reason Rice has had so much success on the soccer field lately.
Earning all-state accolades and a state championship last season on the pitch, Gorski is also a starter on the Warriors football and basketball teams. In football, he is a highly-accurate placekicker and mega-long kickoff specialist. During basketball season, he is a pace-setting point guard and pesky defensive specialist that helped lead Rice to its first district title in quite some time this past winter. Last fall on the gridiron, he adapted quickly to his first time role as a football kicker and came through in several key instances that aided the team in a run to the D2 final four.
This kid is the definition of a winner and a leader on and off the field and Burney thinks there is a very good chance for him to walk away with another couple of state championship rings – his first in football and a second in soccer – before it's all said and done on his playing career for Warrior Nation.

Decade of Dominance - Part 7

OC All-Deacde – Linebacker
1 The Brother Rice Trio (Chris Colasanti, Adam Decker, and Justin Cherochi) – All three of these guys from the world of Orange and Black were prototypical middle linebackers with keen instincts calling plays in the huddle and snuffing out opponents with their vicious tackling skills. Colasanti plays at Penn State, Decker at Michigan State and Cherochi is at Central Michigan. Leadership is a quality each player has in spades. Think former Lions all-pro Chris Spielman, only as a high schooler!
2 Malcom Arrington (OL St. Mary's) – This outstanding outside backer was a game-changer as a prepster with the Eaglets, collecting over 100 tackles and 10 sacks his senior season in '04, helping lead his team to a state championship game appearance. Played in college at Northwestern where he was a starter his senior year and a part-time starter his junior season.  
3 Tim King (WL Western) – Super speedy and mega hard-hitting backer who helped spearhead the Warriors to a state title as a junior. Could be the most athletically-gifted backer the county saw in the earlhy-2000s, if not the entire decade.
4 Mike Kinville (Novi Detroit CC) – Kinville captained the '09 Shamrocks 'D, possibly the most dominant defensive unit the county produced in the 2000s, to a D1 state title. Also an all-state wrestler as a prepster, Kinville is currently at Central Michigan.
5 Mike Petrucci (Milford) – heading into his junior campaign at CMU where he has been a significant contributor and will compete for a starting spot this fall. Petrucci was an all-state selection his senior season in high school in 2006 as both a linebacker (76 tackles, 10 sacks) and a running back/slot back, who went over the 1500 yard mark in rushing and the 1000 yard mark in receiving for his career. Strong in academics, Petrucci was a straight A student and also set numerous school records in the spring as a track and field star.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Training Camp Report - Blue Bombers

Southfield head football coach Tim Conley is a wrestler at heart, having wrestled collegiately at Michigan State. With that in mind, it should come to no surprise that Conley's teams almost always take on the mentality of their coach and accordingly, are never afraid to get down and dirty to gut out big wins – especially the past few seasons. The Bluejays have consistently shown to be a mentally-tough bunch and thrive in the most pressure-packed of circumstances. The results: back-to-back district championships and the school's first ever regional since 2008.
This fall should be no different, as Southfield will field another strong team while it makes a push to become the first squad in school history to qualify for the playoffs three straight years.
"These guys like to play the game and it shows in how they play it," said Conley of his 2010 team. "We're young, but we've been improving at a fast rate every day. "There are some real nice weapons on this team and they'll be given an opportunity to show what they can do."
Specifically, he's referring to a strong returning core led by all-state running back, Dae'von Robinson and Division I defensive recruit, Carthel Garth.
An all-conference linebacker on the prep gridiron at Troy in the late-1980s, Conley decided to wrestle up in East Lansing at the college level.  Before coming to Southfield, Conley worked as an assistant for Gary Griffith at Troy.
 He's liked what he has seen in the last few weeks from his team.
"Training camp was productive," he said. "It was a real good weeding out process, we found out a lot about the character of this group. Some of our assistants have a boot camp mentality and that mind-set carries over a bit in a good way. We're looking forward to getting on the field and getting things started."  
Getting the call at quarterback for the second straight season will be junior Justin Danzy, an all-conference baseball pitcher in the springtime. Fellow junior Brandon Watkins, who split time with Danzy at QB last year, will be used in a more multidimensional manner this year and line-up at receiver, running back and slot back, as well as sometimes still call signals.
Robinson is the given in this that its a given whenever he touches the ball he's going to be a threat to do damage. This durable pinball-type runner has a big heart to go along with his big game, as he's played brilliantly through painful injuries the past two playoff runs. Both Toledo and Central Michigan are the college programs most in the hunt for his talents as a recruit.
Levitrius Payne and Brandon Bean will be the team's top receiving threats. Garth, getting looks at the college level for linebacker and safety, will also get some time catching passes on offense. Sophomore Trey Walton, the starting quarterback on the JV in 2009, will play split end and back-up Danzy as Conley's alternate field general.
Darian Miles (6-2, 310) and Deonte Cox will hold things down for Conley and co. on the offensive line and Lamonte Lane will be Garth's "pass rush partner" on the defensive line. Linebackers Willie Duncan and Raymond Hobson are underrated and will make names for themselves this season as on-the-ball defenders. The duo's speed will allow coaches to drop them back in pass coverage, opening up things for more effective blitz packages. Lawrence Hill and Kevin Hines are penciled in as the team's top defensive backs.
When most in the area kick-off their season on Thursday or Friday, Southfield will have to wait until Saturday when the travel to Detroit Northwestern to open things up. As soon as the OAA White schedule gets underway, the 'Jays will be one of the favorites to come away with the crown, along with FH Harrison, Farmington and RH Adams.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Training Camp Report - Rambling Men


Since his arrival in 2004, Madison Heights Lamphere head football coach, Jason Charron hasn’t had a single losing season on the sidelines. Lamphere’s streak of winning campaigns will almost certainly continue unobstructed this year, as Charron’s Rams have “Big Game” talent on both sides of the ball and stand poised to make serious runs at conference and district championships alike by season’s end.

Because of heralded-recruit Valdez Showers and a treasure chest of complimentary D1-level talent, across town at recent perennial powerhouse, Madison Heights Madison, the boys from Lamphere sometimes unfairly get shifted into the shadows.

This won’t be the case in 20010. All the pieces are in place for a lengthy ride down VICTORY ALLEY. With the kind of first-rate, not to mention first-class ball players in the mix over in Ram Country (these are the kind of guys the define the term “gym rat” in the best sense possible), this group of gridiron grunts sporting the L on their chests will have to be dragged from the headlines kicking and screaming.

Judging by what Charron, an offensive guru, who played quarterback at Wayne State in the late-90s and early-2000s, has to work with on ‘O’ and the fact that the squad’s’ “D” is experienced and will be spearheaded by an all-state middle linebacker, this could wind up being a historical fall on the field for everyone involved and invested in the Rams program.

“There’s a real nice nucleus at the center of this team that have been together for a while and building for this year since becoming starters three years ago as sophomores,” Charron said. “Our leadership from those guys is very strong and the younger, less battle-tested guys have been stepping it up and showing what they can do too. I think across the board things are looking up for us as we move forward.”

Everything for Lamphere starts with the team’s top three players: Ryan Horvath (QB), Mitch Kozlowski (WR/RB/KR) and Jackson Lewis (LB). All three are three-year starters, captains and multi-sport standouts, not to mention natural born leaders.

Horvath is a prototypical gunslinger of a signal caller and has the in-game IQ to take the Rams far on his performance alone. Kozlowski is a “do-everything” type with “big play” potential every time he touches the ball. He will be used in a variety of roles in a variety of formations this season just like last. Both Horvath and Kozlowski are also excellent baseball players (each hits over 300 and has started for 4 years) and form the school’s starting backcourt during basketball season in the winter.

Lewis can take it sideline-to-sideline with anyone in the state and is a hulking presence on the field calling plays for Charron in the defensive huddle. Also an all-state champion prep wrestler, Lewis (6-2, 235) levels opponents with his abrasive hits, is as instinctive and courageous as they come and almost most importantly is a superior “wrap-up” tackler. A number of D1 schools are interested in his services as of right now.

Whats most impressive about the team's trio of senior steadies is that all threee have gotten better, stronger and more intuitive each year.

Junior Mike Middleton will be the starting tight end and will see a nice batch of balls thrown his way. James Bullock (junior), Josh Grams (senior) and Troy Williams (sophomore) are all going to handle the ball at running back until one of them emerges as the primary rock-carrier throughout the season. Over the course of training camp, seniors Jerry Connor and Anthony Di Carlo have flourished as top offensive options outside of Kozlowski and will each be used in the slot, end and backfield. Middleton also starts on defense at defensive end, as does Connor, who will start at cornerback.

Grams - like Horvath and Kozlowski, another baseball stud - plays on defense as a starting linebacker alongside Lewis, Ryan Jaskula and Josh Nunn. In addition to Connor, senior Pete McAlpine (CB) and junior Chris Fettes (S) will be Lamphere’s top defensive backs. Kozlowski will play
defense (CB/S) when available and undertake most return duties.

Charron believes that his defense is just as good if not better than his more high-profile offense.

“Our defense is a real strength,” he said. “I got guys that get after it out there and know the game and the reads and take a real passion in what they’re doing. Jackson is a monster and he sets the tone.”

The No. 1 reason for the Rams recent ascension as a factor in the county prep football scene has been because of Charron and his efforts. In the pre-Charron era, the program had made the state playoffs just three times. Since he turned up and put on the headset, the Rams have gone prancing into the postseason four times and counting.

Named all-conference as a senior at Clintondale in the mid-1990s – where he took his squad to a league title – , Charron first went to Grand Valley State to play quarterback in college before ending up at Wayne State for the completion of his “next level” experience. Prior to coming to Lamphere, he was the offensive coordinator at Macomb Dakota and a JV coach at Clintondale.

The Rams, coming off back-to-back playoff appearances with this core group, will be switching divisions in the MAC this year, going from the Bronze into the Silver. Last season, the Rams went 8-4, winning one playoff game before losing to Birmingham DCD in the D3 district finals. The year before that, when these seniors were sophomores getting their feet wet, they went 7-3 and lost to their coaches’ alma mater, Clintondale in the first game of the postseason.

The seventh-year sideline general is eager to get things kicked off.

“I think we all just want to get out there and play this thing out,’ he said. “They’re lot of really solid teams in our new league and we have to be ready for them. I know we will because I have immense confidance in both my team and coaching staff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bonus Bytes - News & Notes

First & foremost your boy Burney is now finally on Twitter (it was inevitable): Please follow me at for all the most up to date prep sports news coverage and opinions , not to mention more frequent doses of my general humor and wit
The county's most sought after prep football recruit, MH Madison's Valdez Showers, WILL ANNOUNCE HIS COLLEGE CHOICE WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK GUARANTEED! I hear it's down to Florida, Michigan, MSU and Northwestern. As I've state previously, Burney's moles are saying it's ALL GATORS ALL THE TIME, yet Burney also knows that Valdez's pops wants his son staying closer to the homefront. I'm no waffler, I still say it's gonna be Florida when it's all said and done!  
Birmingham DCD's uber-athlete Lee Bailey had an excellent summer hooping his way up the recruiting charts on the basketball hardwood. The "jack of all trades" combo-guard was one of the best players at the recent BCAM Reaching Higher Scouting Showcase. Now, it's time for Bailey to dance his way back on to the football field and continue his dazzling ways as the 'Jackets No. 1 running back for one more season on the prep gridiron. Decision time will be soon and Bailey will have to decide which sport he desires to play in college……Burney thinks it's gonna be hoops!
On the subject of DCD sports greats, I was sad to hear that former Yellowjacket all-state football and basketball player, Javin Hunter, lost his dad (former Detroit Lions starting cornerback James "Hound Dog" Hunter) earlier this month. Burney's thoughts and prayers are with the whole Hunter family. Javin had a very good career in college on the gridiron as a wide receiver at Notre Dame and then a short career in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens after helping lead the 'Jackets to state titles in both bball and football as a prepster in the 1990s.
Senior football stud, Dequante Humphrey, one of the county's top wide receiver prospects, is apparently back at Waterford Kettering for his senior year, after initially trying to transfer over to Pontiac HS (where his dad is an assistant coach) to complete his HS career earlier this summer. Burney apologizes for his previous reporting of the move being "official", as obviously it wasn't. Nonetheless, look for a big season for Humphrey in 2010 with the Captains.
While we're talking about big seasons in 2010, expect one from RH Adams running back Darien Bell and one from Farmington tailback Neno Fletcher-Jones – this two can straight burn!

Burney's gut is telling him that Southfield-Lathrup's corner combo of Cameron Boyd and Stephon Armstrong could be the best DB Duo in the county!

the Seaholm football team took care of DH Divine Child in a scrimmage on Thu 35-7. could this be the year of the QB and John Glazier in Mapleland?

One more correction: The Kucera Bros., who Burney wrote of briefly in his Training Camp Report on WL Cental football, graduated in June and obviously will not be on the team this season, as I incorrectly reported.

Decade of Dominance - Part 6

OC All-Decade - Defensive Lineman
1. Gabe Watson (Southfield) - An all-american and two-time all-state defensive lineman in high school and a two-time All-Big Ten selection in college at UofMichigan. Senior year in high school for the Bluejays in 2001 made 80 tackles and collected 10 sacks. Drafted by the AZ Cardinals in the 4thth round of the NFL Draft in 2006, Watson has been in the league and with the Cardinals organization ever since.
2. Will Johnson (Lake Orion) - Possibly the best pass rusher in the county in the 2000s, garnering over 20 sacks during his junior and senior campaigns with the Dragons in 2002 and 2003. Played at the University of Michigan - from 2005-2008 -, where he was All-Academic Big Ten multiple years) in college.
3. Mike Martin - (Novi Detroit CC) - Currently in his junior year in college, starting at nose tackle at Michigan, where last season he was named MVP of the team's defensive line. In HS with the Shamrocks was a dominant presence in the trenches, collecting over 205 career tackles (96 his senior year, 36 for loss of yardage, to go along with 7 sacks) in three years starting on the CC varsity. Was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Michigan in 2007. In the winter, Martin doubled as an all-state wrestler
4.Tyler Hoover (Novi) - Expected to start at defensive end for the MSU Spartans this season as a redshirt sophomore, after an all-state prep career at Novi. Hoover stacked up 110 tackles and 8 sacks as a senior in 2007.
5. Jonathon Strayhorn (Oak Park) - This Oak Park grad was under the radar in recruiting circles but exceptional at his craft, putting up gaudy numbers (120 tackles, 70 solo, 6 sacks) his senior year in 2005. He is slated to compete for time on the 'D-Line for Michigan State this season as a red shirt junior.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training Camp Report - Fresh Horses

They might not have the high-profile names on their roster like some of the other prep football teams in the area, but make no mistake about it, the Ferndale Eagles have some real potential thoroughbreds in their proverbial stable this season. Coming off a disappointing 2009 campaign where the team finished 2-7 overall and missed the playoffs first the first time in three years, the 2010 squad, headlined by a group of under-the-radar talents stacked to the gills with raw skill and speed, are ready to put things right again in Eagle Country.
"We had a productive offseason," said fifth-year head coach, Ryan Dunlap, during a short break from the heat and hurry of a recent practice. "These guys were in the weight room from early last November and have putting in all the necessary work to get this program back to its winning ways. Our agility and speed are at the best level they've been at in a while".
As greener pastures appear on the horizon, Dunlap wants to leave the letdown of last season in his and his team's rear view mirror.
"There was a lack of leadership and accountability on last year's team", he said. "I don't think that's the case right now. These guys are bringing a more positive approach and that's encouraging everyone to go out and do their best for themselves and the team all the time".
The "super sleeper" tandem of twin brothers, Jameal and Jamarius McTear, have the chance to each have breakout seasons. Jameal is a 6-5, fleet-footed quarterback who shows a satin-like touch when throwing the ball downfield. Jamarius, an inch or two shorter than his sib yet a millisecond or two faster, will be Ferndale's top option at receiver. The Mc Tear brothers are both all-state performers in track during the spring, sporting 4.3 40 times and the Eagles' coaching staff will try to utilize this valued asset as much as possible when the team has the ball. Rashan Livous, another speedster, will line-up on at split end opposite Jamarius and give Jameal a solid No. 2 option.
"Jameal had an awesome winter getting ready to take over the QB spot and really impressed everyone who say him this summer in our 7-on-7 scrimmages", Dunlop said of his new field general. "Him and his brother have the chance to be a special combination this year".
Senior Anthony Garland will be Dunlop's featured tailback and is another lighting-quick player on the roster that is poised for a bustout in the stat sheet this fall. Garland is the definition of multi-purpose on the gridiron and he will see time at quarterback and wide receiver as well. Due to injuries the past two seasons to all-conference signal caller, Deonte Cooper (Michigan Tech), that forced him out of a series of games, Garland has seen his fair share of time under center and has been helping Mc Tear get used to his new job running the team's offense.
Javon Edwards and Jonathon Dozier take center stage on Ferndale's line play and will help provide quality protection for the team's first-year QB. Dozier (6-8 370) is a "one man gang" of a lineman and is currently getting looks from a number of Division 1 schools.
Defense could end up being a real savior for Dunlap and his crew of grass-stained gladiators. The defensive side of the ball for the Eagles is fast, gutty and more experienced than the team's offense, thus might be forced to step up to the plate early and hold the fort down when Mc Tear and company get their wits and adapt.
Returning all-conference linebacker Joey Ashmore is a ferocious tackling-beast going sideline-to-sideline and calling plays on defense for the Eagles' attack. His attitude and work ethic are staples of the team environment and he will serve as one of the squad's primary vocal leaders along with Garland.
Augmenting Ashmore in the line backing corps will be David Anderson, a transfer from Orchard Lake St. Mary's. Edwards and Dozier are expected to pull double duty and aggressively plug the gap in the center of the defensive line, allowing Ashmore and Anderson to roam more freely and cause more confusion with stunts and blitzes.
Josh Allen is an underrated "lockdown" cover-corner and will be the team's No. 1 defensive back. Roemmil "Do-Do" Duldulao is penciled in at the Eagles other corner spot and word from the coaches is that he is one of the most improved players on the team since last season.
Seeking the program's first district title in more than a decade, the early-portion of the schedule will be a tell tale sign of how this team stacks up against the rest of the competition in the OAA Blue. Ferndale's first four games of the year are against Berkley, Bloomfield Hills Lahser, UofD-Jesuit, and Auburn Hills Avondale, all squads expected to be in contention for the postseason this fall.
"We'll be able to figure out pretty quickly where we're at as a team with the kind of opponents we play in out first month of the season", Dunlap said. "Everyone is eager to get started and see how things are going to play out.
Dunlap is confident in his players and isn't afraid to express it.
"One thing I know is that these are all tough kids to the core. With those kind of kids on your roster, you can find ways to win".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Training Camp Report - Fight To The Finish

Despite starting out the season with eight straight victories, winning a KLAA conference crown and getting the chance to host a playoff game, Walled Lake Central head football coach Bob Meyer, bristles at the notion that his team had a very good year in 2009.
"We had a good year, not very good, but good," he said at a recent practice in response to a request to evaluate last year's squad that completed the campaign at 8-2. "I think we had a great start and then kind of stumbled at the end. Half of our dream was accomplished and the other half was left out there on the field."
Meyer, entering his sixth year at the helm of the Vikings program, is encouraged by what he has seen from his squad so far during the offseason and since practice got on its way a little over a week ago. He has lofty expectations.
"We're looking for greatness out of this group this season and I know they have it in them," he said. "Our motto for the season is 'finish the dream'. Last season we had the table set to get to the mountain top and couldn't finish it. This year we need to close things out with emphasis and finish the job we started last year."
When asked specifically what him and his coaching staff have in mind, he is resolute and quick to answer.
'We expect nothing less than a deep playoff run," he said. "These guys got a taste of it last season and now they're coming back for more. The expectations are high for ourselves from within the program and that's where they need to be."
The Vikings, who lost in the KLAA title game to Grand Blanc and then to Birmingham Brother Rice in the opening round of the playoffs in 2009 (ending the season on a two-game losing skid), return 16 starters from last year's team. The squad's 22 seniors, many going into their third season on the varsity, will make them heavy on experience and extra-hungry to make it to Ford Field because much of the team knows this is their last hurrah.
Offense will be Central's calling card once again this fall and even though he has lost all-conference quarterback Joe Diamond to graduation, Meyer is confidant his team's explosive scheme (nearly 35 points per outing last season), much of which relies on the QB making snap calls at the line depending on the opponents defensive positioning, won't miss a beat.
Junior Zach Leimbach, a rising-star of a baseball player on the diamond in the spring and the Vikings JV team's starting signal caller the past two years, will take the reins from Diamond and start under center when the season kicks-off next week. Fellow junior K.J. Schultz, one of last year's top offensive weapons, returns as the team's starting tailback and will be spelled by Chris Koizara and Derek Schulz, who will each also see an ample amount of carries even as the No. 2 options.
Besides having his buddy and speedy spinster, Schultz, beside him in the backfield, Leimbach's transition will be made additionally easier by the fact that he has a ultra-aggressive and mega-sized offensive line blocking for him. D1 recruits Bryan Bell (6-5 330) and Mike Strehl (6-2 330) highlight the Vikings' line attack and will offer as good of a protection unit for a rookie QB as humanly possible on the prep level.
With last season's No. 1 receiving option, Sam Pearlstein, gone, Kyle Clark and Connor Resnick, will share top pass-catching duties for the team. Senior Ramon Alexander, a D1 recruit at cornerback and the Vikings' best defensive player, will see action on offense as well, expected to be utilized in a variety of spots including RB and WR.
Derek Schulz is getting serious looks by a number of D1 schools for his special teams ability as a kicker/punter, so Central's kicking game should be an ace in the hole.
Along with Alexander, a dynamic presence on the field comparable to a Charles Woodson-type when Woodson was at UofM in the late-90s, the Vikings' 'D will be led by Austin Teifke (DE), Zach Hill (LB) and Steve Raad.
Little time will be wasted in finding out just how good this bunch can and will be, as Coach Meyer and his boys face-off with state power and '09 d1 state semi-finalist, Canton at home for the season opener on August 27.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Decade of Dominance - Part 5

OC ALL-DECADE - Offensive Lineman
1. Matt Lentz (Ortonville Brandon '01) - Went on to have an excellent collegiate career up in Ann Arbor at the UofMichigan in the early-portion of the decade. Started three years for the Wolverines at right guard, earning first team All-Big Ten honors in 2005 and 2004. He has played in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, NY Giants, Tampa Bay Bucs and his hometown Detroit Lions. One of the best athletes to ever come out of Blackhawk Country in northern Oakland County. Developed his Hulk-like strength and stone cold work ethic from working on his family farm as a youth.
2. Joel Foreman (Milford '07) - Going into his third year starting on the offensive line for the MSU Spartans, Foreman is a force of nature on the field and in the lockroom. When he was a redshirt freshman in 2008 he was named first team Freshman All-American by the Sporting News and the College Football Writers' Association. Selected as a first team all-state pick as a senior in 2006-2007, Foreman was a three-year starter on both sides of the ball, anchoring an O-Line in the fall of 2006 that rushed for almost 3500 yards.
3. Babak Motamedi (RH Adams '04) - Was the heart and soul of the Highlanders 2003 state championship behemoth offensive front, gutting it out for the team in the trenches and blowing coaches and scouts away with his versatility. He was a two-year captain at Adams in a span where the program posted a 24-3 overall record. Showing he could get his grades as high as he could lift his team, Motamedi played his college ball in the IVY League at Cornell.
4. Trent Varva (Lake Orion '04) - This 6-3, 331 lb football machine accumulated a smashing 168 pancake blocks in his career on the line for the Dragons. Played his college ball at Penn State.
5. Deontae Pannell (Birmingham Groves '08) - Three-sport star at Groves in the latter-half of the decade, also captaining the basketball and track and field squads while a prepster. During his senior season in the fall of 2007, Pannell (6-5, 320) was ranked as a Top 20 lineman prospect in the country and eventually committed to Penn State of the Big Ten, where he is currently a significant contributor to the Nittany Lions program. He was named first team all-state his senior year, a campaign where he did a mean Orlando Pace impression up front for the Falcons and picked up 65 tackles and 8 sacks on the defensive side of the ball.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oh Captain, My Captain

In a monumental accomplishment of desire and dedication, Mark Moundros, a three-sport standout in high school at North Farmington ('06), went from walk-on to team captain of the Michigan Wolverines football team this past week. Moundros, whose older brother Kirk also prepped at North Farmington and played football at the University of Michigan ('98-'02), was voted captain by his teammates on Tuesday, along with Stephen Shilling. Receiving the honor of being selected captain of the Maize and Blue football program puts Moundros' name on a list with some of the greatest athletes to ever suit up on the equally legendary and prestigious campus.
It's been quite a journey for the 6-0, 230 lb mountain of muscle the past five years: Coming to Ann Arbor as a walk-on in the fall of 2006, Moundros made a quick and positive impression on the coaching staff and earned playing time practically right out of the gate, starting seven contests at fullback as a redshirt freshman in 2007. To anyone who was paying attention - both Carr and RichRod's respective coaching staffs come to mind - realized right away that this was no ordinary "Rudy-esque" walk-on….ie this kid can straight out play some pigskin and the term "garbage or clean-up time' won't ever be applicable when talking about him. He's been a regular in the BIG HOUSE and throughout the BIG TEN Conference for the last 3 years and last season was named the squad's MVP of the special teams. This year Moundros has decided to make the shift to the defensive side of the ball and will see considerable time at various linebacking spots. Going into his senior year, he has already appeared in 37 games, one of the highest totals in walk-on history at the school.
The success Moundros has found in the arena of big time college athletics should come to no surprise to those who followed his career in the prep ranks just a few years back. A three-year starter in football and basketball for the Raiders from 2003-2006, he was an all-conference selection in both. During his senior season on the football field - a campaign in which he was named all-state by the Associated Press - , he rushed for over 2000 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on offense and made 90 tackles and 7 sacks on defense. When he wasn't busting it up the gut on the gridiron or tearing up the rim on the hardwood, he was dominating the competition in track and field.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Training Camp Report - Viking Quest

The good news for Hazel Park's football team and its fans is that the Vikings will be returning to the gridiron this Autumn with the same offensive scheme in tact that allowed them to score a rotund 394 points behind a viciously-effective rushing attack last year. The bad news for HP Nation is that head coach Scott Guthrie and the Vikings don't return a single starter from an '09 squad that claimed an OAA Blue conference championship with an 8-3 overall record.
Don't fret too much for Guthrie and the boys in Maroon and Silver though, because the team still has some dangerous ammunition in its arsenal. The Vikes' D brings back six starters and the offense has some potential primetime talents in its midst. Making a return trip to the playoffs and competing for a repeat conference crown is not out of the question.
"We have a lot to build on from last season around here and that by itself is a nice thing to have in our back pockets," said Guthrie, entering his 7th season on the sidelines for Hazel Park, at a recent practice. "Our inexperience will certainly be a factor, probably most evident early on, but I'm sure we'll adapt as we go forward each week."
The coach knows his defense, run by his close friend and defensive coordinator, Mike Gordon will be the key.
"What we got coming back on defense is encouraging and they're going to have to carry us a little right off the bat until we get all the rough edges smoothed over on the other side of the ball."
The offense on the other hand will be in transition mode.
Replacing last season's dynamic running back tandem of Dominic Wiggins and Dustin O'Malley will be a tall task, but senior Dakota Ogles, a starter on defense in '09 as a junior, is looking super in practice and could easily be in for a big year toting the rock as the team's featured ball carrier. Ogles is a bruising back and a master of forcing the pigskin down the throats of the opposing defense - he had a number of 100 yd rushing performances as HP's third option last fall. In the winter, Ogles is practically a walking double-double on the basketball court and one of the most prolific post players in the county.
Fellow seniors Shelby Mullens, Ralph Hopkins and Todd Mullens will all get their fair share of chances running the ball, while letting Ogles (a down and dirty pass rush specialist on defense) guide their way as a tenacious lead blocker.
Sophomore quarterback Andrew McCllellen, last season's starter on the junior varsity, will take over as the team's starting signal caller from the graduated Taylor Marshall. Junior Damon Hannon and senior Mark Jarnol will be McCllellen's top targets at the receiver positions, although the squad will most-likely throw the ball less than a dozen times a game if all things go as planned by Guthrie, moonlighting as the team's offensive coordinator. Da'kwan Dillard and Andrew Haegedus will anchor the Vikings O and D lines in the trenches.
"I think the offense will start to gel after a little while and we'll be back where we want to be," Guthrie said. "The system works and we love to run it."
One of the coolest aspects of the Vikings football program is that virtually the entire coaching staff played and graduated at the school. Guthrie and Gordon were co-captains of the 1988 Hazel Park team that went 7-2 and won a league title. An all-conference linebacker, Guthrie continued his playing career in college at Central Michigan for a year as a preferred walk-on.
Hazel Park opens up its season on the road for its first two contests, playing at BH Andover and AH Avondale, respectively, to start things off with.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Training Camp Report - Make It or Break It

When asked if this upcoming season was a "make or break" campaign for him and his staff, Birmingham Seaholm head football coach Chris Fahr was fast to give an unequivocal affirmative answer.
"I think it has to be," he said unflinchingly at a recent practice. "The expectations from the community are high and the expectations from within this team are high and rightfully so. This is our time to shine. Its now or never."
The Maples football tradition is a highly-valued aspect of the city and the residents of Birmingham support their high school football team with as much fervor and devotion as any fan base in the state.  Being one of the most-winning suburban programs of the past quarter century, the bar is set high and the standard is pure gold around Seaholm country.  Fahr is more than aware of the climate in which he coaches. 
After three straight winning seasons to start his head coaching career (his first season was an 8-3, conference championship-winning endeavor in 2005), Fahr is coming off two consecutive losing years and knows this year will be a defining one for his tenure on the sidelines. Either the Maples make a breakthrough this fall and romp back into the playoffs after a multi-year absence or Fahr knows its possible he won't be asked to return.
"This is a great place to coach, it really is,' he said in an interview a few months back. "The community loves their football, supports you with everything they have and really gains a sense of identity from the product put out there on the field every Friday night. When you're winning, its unbelievable. When you're losing, things can get pretty hot. People are tired of it and so am I. This is going to be a good year for everybody."
Well, good thing for coach Fahr, judging by what's been going on in the offseason and at practice this week, things appear headed back in the winning direction. And let's not forget, the scheduling gods were on Seaholm's side this year with a favorable change in divisions in the OAA and a considerably less-brutal opponent list than the past few seasons. Seaholm hosts its first two games of the year against North Farmington and BH Andover, respectively.
First, Coach Fahr has a nice nucleus returning from a 2009 squad last year that dropped its first six games, yet rallied back with poise and precision to win its final three, two of which came on the road to ruin opponents' homecomings and playoff chances. Second, he has one of the best players in the state in WR/KR/DB Shawn Conway (6-4, 210), lining up any and every where possible, a fact that by itself eases a great deal of the burden for the coaching staff. Third, the emergence of junior John Glazier, as the frontrunner to call signals for the Maples at the QB spot and possibly become the next in a long line of standout field generals at the school (see Lloyd Abramson, Bill Feldmaier, Bill Schuerman, Matt Wilde, and Sam Siegle as examples)
Entering the 2010 season, Seaholm returns 17 starters from a team that played 10 sophomores significant minutes. Glazier, who started on the JV last season, has looked rock solid throwing the pigskin, possessing a very nice touch on his deep balls and an on-field swagger that is unique considering his lack of varsity experience.
Making the transition from JV to varsity even smoother is the fact that Glazier will have a lightning-quick and agile receiving corps to toss the rock to, headlined most notably by Conway, committed to Michigan and a rare physical specimen of a prep athlete. Now, there are some eligibility issues surrounding Conway this season (his current living situation, which was court ordered, is located out of the district), however they are under appeal until later in the year and as of now he will be able to play while the appeal is being considered by the school district. In addition to having Conway, the Maples' pass-catching brigade is deep. Chris Barr, J.D. Hess and Kai Czajka are all jitterbug-types with the ability to break the big play after the catch. Fahr considers Barr, pound-for-pound, just as good as Conway. Second-year offensive coordinator Nick Dean (previously at Troy) will continue to run a spread formation to take advantage of the team's speed.
Complimenting the squad's gazelle-like receivers on the outside, will be the punishing Greg Joseph, a senior running back, taking the ball up the gap in between the tackles. Joseph is a powerful runner and has strong leadership skill. Senior Kevin Wilberding will also get carries in the Maples' backfield, acting as a mix-it-up option for Dean and Fahr, since he is more of a scatback than a brute like Joseph, and possess very good pass-catching skills. Mike Nadowksi, a junior transfer from Farmington, has been impressive through camp so far and the coaching staff is looking for ways to get him more involved in the offense, since his versatility provides the ability to play him at either running back or receiver.
The offensive line is beefy and will give Glazier and the rest of the skill position guys a lot of up front support. Junior Dan Gibbs (6-8, 320 lb) is the centerpiece and is currently starting to get looks from a number of D1 schools. Returning starters and seniors Hunter Luikart, Charlie Doherty and Spencer Ray are pictures of consistency in the trenches. Trey Warnike and junior Sam Anderson will round out the unit. 
The defense will be led by lineman, Sterling Johnson and Neil Page and safety Matt Roden. Jack Apap and Tommy Lewis will be the defensive coordinator, Dave Furlong's top linebackers. Barr and Conway are set to assume double-duty and start at cornerback in addition to wide out.  Look for Roden to be the 'D's on the field captain, calling plays from his safety spot and being the team's vocal leader in the huddle. If Glazier struggles behind center, Roden, who played some QB last season and is battling for the job in camp right now, would get the nod.