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, November 30, 2010

Burney's All-County Football Squad

QB          Tommy Vento (FH Harrison)
QB          Mitch Robinson (AH Avondale)
QB          Nick Bradley (Rochester)
RB           Marques Stevenson (Lake Orion)
RB           Anthony Garland (Ferndale)
RB           Valdez Showers (MH Madison)
RB           Terrell Porter (Berkley)
RB           Dakota Ogles (Hazel Park)
RB           Rylan Probst (WL Western)
WR         Aaron Burbridge (FH Harrison)
WR         Ray Tillman (AH Avondale)
WR         Allen Robinson (OL St. Mary's)
WR         Kenny Knight (Birmingham DCD)
WR         Jason Wilson (Farmington)
WR         Chris Canada (Clarkston)
TE           Devin Funchess (FH Harrison)
TE           Jake Duzey (Troy Athens)
TE           Matt Doneth (Novi Detroit CC)
OL           D'Kwan Dillard (Hazel Park)
OL           Blake McGee (Lake Orion)
OL           Kyle Foreman (Berkley)
OL           Bryan Bell (WL Central)
OL           Nate Theaker (Lakeland)
K             Lucas Blankenship (Troy)
P             Derek Schultz (WL Central)
DL           Cortez Riley (OL St. Mary's)
DL           Evan Rourke (Lake Orion)
DL           Mario Ojemudia (FH Harrison)
DL           Kristian Malaj (FH Harrison)
DL           Spencer Cairo (RH Adams)
DL           Marcel Johnson-Leonard Walls (Rochester)
LB           James Ross (OL St. Mary's)
LB           Zach Collins (Clarkston)
LB           Connor Reznik (WL Central)
LB           Tim Hamilton (Birmingham Brother Rice)
LB           John Mattar (Troy)
LB           Devonte Snyder (MH Madison)
CB           Tony Harris (AH Avondale)
CB           Ramon Alexander (WL Central)
CB           The Annese Brothers (RH Adams)
CB           Mario Burkett/DeBrian Lewis (Pontiac)
CB           Andrew Nelson (Novi Detroit CC)
S              Jimmy Pickens (Birmingham Brother Rice)
S              Loran Jaddou (Birmingham Brother Rice)
S              Jake Vento (FH Harrison)
S              Tyler Misiak (Lake Orion)
S              Kyle Clark (WL Central)
Flex        Mitch Kozlowski (MH Lamphere)
Flex        Anderious Grey (Holly)
Flex        Keon Collier (Birmingham Groves)
Flex        Danny Ney-Zach Zott (Lake Orion)
MVP      Tommy Vento (FH Harrison sr QB)
MIP        Justin Danzy (Southfield jr QB)
Top Underclassmen – Grant Niemiec (OL St. Mary's soph RB)
Coach of the Year – Bob Meyer (WL Central)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Retirement Party

One of Oakland County's all-time greatest hoopsters, Rashad Phillips, had his college jersey retired at halftime of a recent UofD-Mercy basketball game, placing his No. 3 in the rafters of Calihan Hall alongside the numbers of other Titan cage legendslike former NBA vets Dave Debusschere, John Long and Terry Tyler. Phillips, who prepped at Ferndale in the mid-1990s, is arguably the best point guard in the history of the school, leading the Titans to first-round upset wins in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 1999 and earning conference Player of the Year honors twice. He is the only player in UofD-Mercy history to garner career totals of 2000-plus points and 500-plus assists.
Finishing his college career in 2001, he left the Titans as the program's all-time leading scorer (2,319 points), a record that still stands today and embarked on what would become a highly-successful career playing overseas, winning league MVP awards three separate times (in Italy, Latvia and Saudi Arabia) in the 2000s.
Back in his high school days at Ferndale, the dynamic and explosive "Little Big Man" – Phillips was barely 5-foot-9 – dominated the high school backcourt scene in Metro Detroit. As a sophomore and junior in 1994 and 1995, he led the Eagles to league and district championships. When he was a senior, he led Oakland County in scoring, by pumping in 26 points a game to go along with seven assists and five steals per contest. Showing that his remarkable skill wasn't exclusive to the court, in the classroom Phillips earned his Bachelor's Degree in communications with a 3.0 GPA in just three years while he was attending UofD.
Finishing up his pro playing career less than a year ago, Phillips currently lives in Auburn Hills and owns and runs Rashad Phillips Skills Unlimited in Rochester Hills, tutoring aspiring college basketball players in the fundamentals and finer points of the game.
In unquestionably the coolest part of this story and in a move that shows what a genuine CLASS ACT he is, Phillips is allowing current UofD-Mercy frosh phenom floor general Ray McCallum, Jr. (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) to don his old No. 3 Titans jersey for his career on campus.
Coming from someone who personally saw him play in both high school and college, I believe NBA superstar Kobe Bryant sums up Phillips' career on the hardwood the best.
Bryant, who played with Phillips in several offseason camps and all-star games when they were both teenagers, was once quoted as saying, "Rashad Phillips is the player never to drafted into the NBA"
All I can say to that is, TRUE!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Five For Fighting - Finally!

OC Top 5 – Ford Field Performances
1 Marques Stevenson (Lake Orion Sr RB) – There's a reason that Stevenson (most likely headed towards the Air Force Academy for his college career) was the best prep running back in Oakland County this season and he showed it in the Dragons 21-13 win over Plymouth in the D1 state finals by rushing for 187 yards and two touchdowns, not to mention a game-clinching 35-yard sprint on a third-and-long late in the fourth quarter
2 Farmington Hill Harrison Defense/Special Teams – Grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat by causing four Lowell turnovers on consecutive possessions in the second half to rally the Hawks back from an 11-point deficit and spur them on to the 38-28 win over the defending state champ, Red Arrows in the D2 state title game; BIG PLAY ROLL CALL – TO # 1 junior LB Lamar Marshall picks Lowell QB Gabe Dean, TO # 2 senior LB Derek Head sacks Dean, causing a fumble that senior defensive lineman Mike Race promptly recovers, TO# 3 junior safety Ken Russ recovers Lowell fumble on kickoff return, TO#4 Derek Head picks Dean to clinch the win!
3 Tommy Vento (FH Harrison Sr Quarterback) – Vento capped an unbelievable three-game run and an outstanding overall campaign under center by torching the Red Arrows secondary for 310 yards and 3 TDs, leading HAWKSNATION to their state record 13th state championship. Words truly can't express the remarkable job Vento did this season taking over the reins at quarterback for the first time and playing like a genuine BLUE CHIP recruit despite his lack of experience. Final three games of Vento's short, but illustrious career as a HAWK; over 900 yards passing and 10 touchdowns, against only one interception. Final overall stats - over 2800 yards, 31 TDs, against only 10 picks WILL SOMEONE PLEASE STEP IN AND OFFER THIS KID A SCHOLARSHIP ALREADY? Burney thinks….scratch that…KNOWS he deserves it!
4 Aaron Burbridge & Jake Vento (FH Harrison Jr wide receivers) – AB & JV did their best Jerry Rice and John Taylor impressions on Friday in the state championship game: Burbridge caught eight balls for 123 yards and two touchdowns, while "Little Bro" Vento caught six balls for 161 yards and one touchdown.
5 David Talley (OL St. Mary's Jr linebacker) – This kid has come on like gangbusters late in the year and will team with James Ross next season to form possibly the best linebacking-tandem in the state. Talley had two sacks and 11 tackles in the Eaglets win over DeWitt in the final four last week and then collected a game-high 10 tackles (tied with Ross, who also had a 10-spot) in their loss to EGR on Saturday night

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

10 Things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving:
1 The Vento Brothers – GET SUPER DUPER BUSY, TV & JV Fri afternoon in the state finals!
2 Amir "The Big Dandy" Williams – This 6-11 DCD Yellowjacket is best prep bball player in the state!
3 Lauren "Mrs. Fourth Quarter" Robak – Do I really need to explain?
4 Chase Toth (Clarkston baseball player) & Halle Wangler (Shrine basketball player) – Burney is thankful both Toth (MSU) and Wangler (OU) recently snared full athletic scholarships to the next level
5 The OLSM football squad's "Nasty Boys" defense led by Cortez "The Terminator" Riley, Marcus "The Sack Man" Gleaves, James "Doomsday" Ross, Darrell "Dr. Fresh" Freeman – CAN U SAY STATE TITLE?
6 Lakeland head boys basketball coach Bob Brugger's return to the OC after a brief one-year hiatus at Brighton – Brugger is the definition of a winner!
7 The fact that the OC has arguably the best two centerfielders (Mitch Kozlowski and Luke Dauch) and best three catchers (Greg Fettes, Blaise Salter and Brett Sunde) in the Metro Detroit area come prep baseball season in a few months
8 Being able to cover local multi-sport studs like, Adam Gorski, Jimmy Pickens, Shawn Conway, Zach Leimbach, Kenny Knight, Lee Bailey, Mahesh Umansankar, Jason Wilson, Allen Robinson, Zach Zott, Dakota Ogles, Andrew Hammett, Mitch Kozlowski, Ryan Horvath, Kyle Cooper, The Schalk Bros., Cole Schaenzer, Jake Duzey, Devin Funchess, Austin Karbowski, Jason Gamble, Nick Bradley, Ant Adams, Ray Tillman, Tony Harris, Mitch Robinson, among others
9 Being able to cover such classy local prep coaches like, Al Fracassa, John Herrington, Jeff Rubin, Kurt Keener, Tom Calnen, Bob Riker, Dan Fife, Mike Shafkalis, Gary Griffth, Mario Evans, Tim Conley, The Negeoshians, Ernie Righetti, Erik Vernon, Tony Partrito, John Bechtel, Pete Finn, Don Watchkowski, Steve Robak, John Hall, Lance Baylis, Bud Rowley, Mike Boyd, Jim MacDougall, Dave Hicklin, Bill Dyer, Dave Muczynski, Dan MacLean, Mike Roffi, Joe Alsup, Don Peters, Todd Carruthers, Ed Schaffer, Frank Orlando, Chris Fahr, Frank De Vito, Chuck Van Robays, Tom Mach, Barry Brodsky, Tom Staton, Pete Mantyla, Scott Guthrie,Kurt Richardson, Mike Avery among others
10 The Oakland Press Sports Section!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Great Burnzini - Last Call

State Finals Picks
Lake Orion v. Plymouth (D1 State Championship)
Five words: MARQUES STEVENSON AND ANDREW SHAFKAKILS. The Dragons have them, Plymouth doesn't. Who needs your starting quarterback when you've got playmakers like these?
LO 31, Plymouth 20
FH Harrison v. Lowell (D2 State Championship)
The Hawks are just too fast in all facets of the game for the Red Arrows to be able to keep up with. Tommy Vento goes all TOMMY VENTO, Jake Vento goes all JAKE VENTO, Mario Ojedmudia goes all MARIO OJEMUDIA and Aaron Burbridge goes all AARON BURBRIDGE and the Hawks get wooden mitten…er….state title No. 13 for the school trophy case!
Harrison 28, Lowell 21
OL St. Mary's v. East Grand Rapids (D3 State Championship)
Revenge is on the minds of the Eaglets this weekend and Burney sees them getting some GET BACK for the slew of recent losses to EGR on the football field. One thing's for sure, OLSM star wideout Allen "Al B Sure" Robinson is going to unleash the nasty on the Panthers secondary and junior LB James "Doomsday" Ross is going to pick up a dozen tackles at least! Nate Parry boots the game-winning FG as time expires and the Eaglets go BANANAS!
OLSM 27, EGR 24

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Field of Gold

Some names to watch out for this weekend in the state football finals at Ford Field
Marques Stevenson (Lake Orion Senior RB) – Could eclipse the 2,000 yard rushing mark with a big effort in the Dragons D1 state tilt with upstart Plymouth on Saturday
Mario Ojemudia (FH Harrison Junior DL) – Ojemudia has been an absolute beast in the trenches for the Hawks this season, leading the team in tackles (over 100) and sacks (in double-digits and counting) and expect more of the same against Lowell in the D2 state championship game on Friday
Corey Lucas (OL St. Marys Senior RB/DB) – This Eaglet two-way stud has been making a ton of big plays in St. Mary's current playoff run and the experience he gained starting in last year's D3 state title game against this same East Grand Rapids squad will serve him well
Ray Hall (FH Harrison Senior CB) – Playing on the other side of all-everything Hawks phenom Aaron Burbdridge, Hall will see a lot of action thrown his way by Lowell's all-state gunslinger Gabe Dean. I expect a lockdown effort by "Big Play Ray" on Friday…at least one pick, several break-ups and a pick-six apiece by him and AB!!
Mike Koenigsknecht (OL St. Mary's Senior QB) – This kid has been playing rock solid all season in his first year under center: he's nothing but money in game management and his accuracy has been spot on. Look for Koenigsknecht to hook-up with his top targets Allen Robinson and Keith Stonestreet for at a minimum a pair of TDs
Evan Rourke, Jon Gall, Adam Gros and Andrew Shafkalis (Lake Orion defensive front) – I feel bad for Plymouth for having to face such an "IN YOUR FACE" and opportunistic unit
Devin Funchess (FH Harrison Junior TE/LB) – The "Funchise" had a quiet game last week in the Hawks 51-0 pasting of GPS in the semis, thus I foresee Harrison's leading receiver this season to go BUCKWILD on the Lowell secondary and haul in 100 yards and at least one score threw the air

Monday, November 22, 2010

Burney's All-OC Soccer Squad

2010 All Oakland County Soccer Team
F Kyle Rutz (WL Northern)
F Chase Jabbori (Novi)
F Kyle Aleseshki (WL Western)
F Lee Elisevich/Jake Landis (BH Lahser)
F Caleb Stanko (AH Oakland Christian)
M Blake Skamiera/Jesus Ginez (Lake Orion)
Alex Landschulz (BH Lahser)
M Eric Weberman (North Farmington)
M Jeff Bumbales (Troy)
M Nate Chapman/Dyland Kennedy (AH Avondale)
D Sean Cunningham (Troy)
D Adam Gorski (Birmingham Brother Rice)
D Matt Szilard (RH Adams)
D Mahesh Umansankar (Birmingham DCD)
D Jarrett Kersten (Clarkston)
D Erik Kelly (BH Lahser)
G Matt Smolinski (Troy)
G Evan Wahl (BH Lahser)
G Andy Rouff (BH Cranbrook)
Head Coach: Dougie McAullay (BH Lahser)

MVP - Adam Gorski (Brother Rice)
MIP - Dylan Knott (RH Adams)

Underclassmen to watch out for
Matt Harborowski (D)/Russ Cicerone (M/F)-Brother Rice
Jimmy Hague (G) - WL Western

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Instant Feedback - Inside The Dragons Den

The Lake Orion Dragons had so many big time performances in their exhilarating 24-21 defeat of Detroit Cass Tech in the D1 football final four on Saturday afternoon, one could almost lose count. Luckily for you prep gridiron fans, Burney didn't.
Here's a quick look at the best of the best:
Andrew Shafkalis – The Dragons tenacious junior linebacker continued his fantastic play this postseason by causing the game-clinching fumble in the closing seconds .....COULD THIS KID BE ANY MORE CLUTCH THE PAST TWO WEEKS?
Tyler Misiak – LO's ace defensive back proved timely as always by recovering the fumble Shafkalis caused and officially halting the Technicians last gasp drive deep into Dragons territory...My boy Misiak makes things MISERABLE for all who gets anywhere in his vicinity on the way to the ball
Cole Schanenzer – Schaenzer's play under center could wind up being the story of the playoffs if Lake Orion wins the state title. Reason being he hadn't played quarterback all season long until starting signal caller Sean Charrette got injured last week. The senior two-sport standout – he's an all-conference baseball player in the spring – made the switch from wide receiver and the Dragons haven't missed a beat. On Saturday, he completed 5-11 pass attempts for 132 yards and one TD.
Marques Stevenson – Cass Tech just couldn't handle Stevenson's herculean effort on Saturday as the senior tailback did his usual Marcus Allen impression by toting the rock 25 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns; In a nutshell, Marques Stevenson went all MARQUES STEVENSON and all is good in Dragonland for another week!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Burnzini - Semifinal Sampler

Final Four Prep Football Picks
Lake Orion v. Detroit Cass Tech
Burney's excited to see former OC gunslinger and current Cass Tech QB Keith Moore (Oak Park) go up against the fierce Dragons defense. I think it's a battle the LO 'D' is going to prevail in thanks to the Dragons secondary led by Dolinski, Misiak and Fine. Marques Stevenson, possibly the most under-appreciated tailback in the Class of 2011, goes all MARQUES STEVENSON, tearing up the previously-unscathed Technicians defense for 200 yards and 3 TDs. Dragons continue to breath fire and waltz into the D1 state finals for the second time in three years.
Lake Orion 33, Cass Tech 23
Walled Lake Central v. Lowell
It's been a great ride Vikes, Burney just doesn't see you guys getting past state powerhouse Lowell this weekend….now, next year with Zach Liembach and K.J. Schultz back still leading the way it might be a different story if the Vikes make it back to the final four. 
Lowell 28, WLC 16
Farmington Hills Harrison v. Grosse Pointe South
Is there really any question in this one…..Hawks = Hammer, GPS = Nail
Harrison 43, GPS 20
Orchard Lake St. Mary's v DeWitt
The Eaglets are so money this year they should play all of their remaining games in a bank. Burney's foresees a stout defensive effort and another explosive offensive output sparking St. Mary's on a trip back to Ford Field for the second straight year and third time since 2007. Senior wideout Allen Robinson, sophomore running back Grant Niemiec and the Nasty Boyz defense are all in for MEGA outings
OLSM 45, DeWitt 17

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time To Breakout

 A dozen boys prep hoopsters that WILL have breakout years this season: 
Chris Milon (Sr. F Novi) – Will be one of the most athletically-gifted forwards in the area this season…expect lots of dunks and double-doubles as he teams with Samier Ozier to make up arguably the best forward combination in the whole KLAA
Anderious Gray (Sr. G Holly) – Coming off a sensational fall on the gridiron toting the rock, Gray is poised to explode on to the hardwood this season with his lightning-fast and playmaking ways
Nick Leventis (Sr G/F West Bloomfield) – Deceptive and intelligent guard/forward who is all guts and grit. His game reminds me of the old Domke bros (Matt '93, Tim '96). of previous Laker hoop fame
Adam Zavadil (Sr. G/F Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – This "Euro Dynamo" can do a little bit of everything (shoot, pass, defend) and is unbelievably fundamentally sound with his game…..he will be a major part of the 'Jackets repeat effort this winter after a prosperous summer honing his skills in his home of the Czech Republic
Dorrell Foster (F)/Caleb Hogans (G) (Juniors North Farmington) – These two JV call-ups will be expected to carry much of the scoring load for the Raiders this season and Burney knows they are both going to open some eyes doing it
Khalil Malone (Soph G Waterford Mott) – Coming off an attention-grabbing summer where he ran the point on his state title winning AAU squad like a true pro, Malone will be one of the better floor generals in the county these next few years
Jordan Dasuqui (Soph G Clarkston) – The next in a long line of super savvy C-Town backcourt gems
Devin Funchess (Jr F FH Harrison) – His future is in football, but "The Funchise" is nothing but fun to watch on the bball court with his aggressive style of banging in the post and skywalking talents attacking the rim on the wing
Parker Millington (Sr F Milford) – This lanky scrap master had a superb summer on the AAU/showcase camp circuit and will be a player to watch for the Mavs this winter
Justin Barrows/Danny Furlong (Junior Forwards OL St. Mary's) – Barrows, a transfer from Oakland Christian and Furlong, the younger brother of former OLSM sniper extraordinaire Mike Furlong, will both enter the mix for the Eaglets this season and provide them with some much-needed scoring punch
Anthony Rice (Sr G Ferndale) – Looked ultra-steady coming off the bench running the point last season and will enter the starting lineup this year as an integral cog in the Eagles attack
Earl Swift (Soph F Southfield) – This rangy and athletic wing player will make an immediate impact after spending this summer schooling the comp on the team camp circuit

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Worth The Wait

The UofM basketball program finally landed its man. Following a six-day delay, the Wolverines locked up their prize recruit for the Class of 2011 by signing Southfield's Carlton Brundidge, one of the top backcourt prospects in the nation, on Tuesday morning in a small, quiet ceremony held at his high school.
Brundidge, a bulldog-tough combo guard who led the Blue Jays to a 21-6 overall record and the Class A final four for the first time in over two decades last winter, was slated to sign his National Letter of Intent on November 10, but postponed until yesterday because his father – Southfield assistant coach Clennie Brundidge – had to leave town on emergency business. Some worried that the 6-foot-2 scoring machine was getting cold feet and might back out of the verbal commitment he gave the Wolverines last September. However, Brundidge stood true to his word on Tuesday and the Ann Arbor hoop faithful all breathed a collective sigh of relief.
To say the program needs Brundidge's talents is like saying the Lions need to find a way to win a road game – It's an absolute. UofM had an underachieving season last year and are picked to finish in the basement of the Big Ten this season. Getting players like Brundidge into the fold up in the A-squared is imperative to turning things around.  Not only can CB get his hoop on with the best of the best there is to offer in the prep ranks, he's a PURE WINNER!  I don't know of many athletes that work as hard as this kid does on his game. He just outgrinds and outworks EVERYONE that steps in his way! His leadership ability and "crunch time" credentials are second to none too. In a nutshell, he's everything you want in a recruit. A starter for the Bluejays since he was a freshman, over the past two seasons Brundidge has put up averages of 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game. Basically, he's as complete a backcourt anchor as you can find and to say the least, the Maze&Blue are super lucky to have him.
"I can't wait to get up there and start helping them get the program back where it should be at," said Brundidge in an interview Tuesday night. "They're going to push me to be the best player I can be and I'm going to give them everything I have in my heart as a competitor. Right now, I'm just proud to be a Wolverine."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dreaming of Hardwood Heaven

With the start of practice kicking off for the boys high school hoops season on Monday, I thought I'd breakdown what I'm most looking forward to this winter from the local prep bball scene
Kurt Keener, Amir Williams and crew over at Birmingham DCD making a run for their second straight state title and doing it in style with another experienced and talented group!
The North Oakland County sniper brigade consisting of AAU teammates Josh Fugate (Holly) and Nick Tatu (Clarkston) burying 3-pointers with pinpoint accuracy for their respective regular-season squads
Southfield's "Big Three" of Carlton "Captain Amazing" Brundidge, Desmond "Pee Wee" Barnes and Patrick "The Money Man" Onwenu leading the Bluejays back to the Class A final four (the school's first back-to-back final four runs since the early-1980s and the Mike McCaskill era)
Joe "The Show" Baker playing in his new Ferndale Eagle digs, taking passes on the break from crafty point guard Anthony Rice and finishing at the rim with authority....Baker's arrival into Eagleville immediately lessons the blow of losing all-conference stars Shawn Amiker and Jody Hill to graduation from last year's league championship team
Shawn Conway of Birmingham Seaholm living up to his rep as the best slam dunk master in the county in his final year on the high school hardwood before starting his football career at UofM next fall…….quick side prediction: Timberwolves center Kevin Love recently went for a 30-30 game in the NBA and I'm saying Conway is going to pull one off for himself this winter for the Maples
Troy's sophomore sensation James "The Chosen One" Young proving that he is the best 10th grade hoops prospect in the state
Avondale's killer-quick and devastatingly effective backcourt of "Sugar Ray" Tillman and Tony "The Truth" Harris breaking so many ankles that the Yellowjackets administration should consider employing a full-time EMS unit to be on hand at all home games
Waterford Mott's new starting backcourt of junior Chris Dewberry and sophomore Khalil Malone taking the Metro Detroit area by storm with their prolific antics for head coach Derek Wiley
Kyle Cooper and Shea Kettner leading the CC Shamrocks back to Calihan Hall and the CHSL finals in March
Seeing football studs like Terrell Porter (Berkley), Keon Collier (Groves), Devin Church (Brother Rice) and the Annese brothers (RH Adams) taking their dynamic athletic ability to the basketball court for the first time in a while
All the progress head coach Pete Mantyla and his FH Harrison hoops program is sure to continue experiencing after a surprising year last season…Can't wait to see Devin "The FUNCHISE" Funchess get on the bball court this year and start tearing up rims like he's been doing d-backs on the football field recently
Seniors Allen Robinson, Darrell Freeman and Shaun Covington leading the OLSM cage squad back to its traditional winning ways coming off an uncharacteristic down year

Seeing how new sidelines generals Lee Bailey sr (WL Western), David McGlowan (Berkley), Jeremy Denha (West Bloomfield)do in their first year on the job

Seeing Lakeland coach Bill Brugger back in the old Blue and White where he belongs!!!.....watching him coach in orange and black last year at Brighton just didnt seem right

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five For Fighting - Elite Eight Outings

OC Top 5 – Gridiron Performances From Regional Final Weekend
1 Tommy Vento (SR QB FH Harrison) – Carved up the De La Salle defense for a school-record 344 yards and two touchdowns in the Hawks 33-23 win. TV has officially eclipsed SWAGGER LEVEL ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TRILLION!
2 Grant Niemiec (SOPH RB OL St. Mary's) – Continued displaying his punishing rushing skills by tearing up the Redford Thurston 'D for 174 yards and three TDs on only 14 carries. GRANT IS GRRRRRRRREAT! I like Niemiec because he's not your typical OLSM back. Unlike most former standout Eaglets rock toters who were slick-footed and speedy, Niemiec is old school all the way and bangs it between the tackles "CC style"
3 The WHOLE WL CENTRAL TEAM All Burney can say is WOW in regards to the Vikes 39-13 trouncing of Fenton on Friday night. I love me some Coach Meyer and the Central gridiron squad this year. They just hit teams in the mouth and say WHAT? TRUE GRIT!
4 Andrew Shafkalis (JR LB Lake Orion) – This kid was all over the field making noise, all up in Utica Ike's face all night long and all about SHUT DOWN MODE on Friday night, leading  the Dragons stout defense in a LO 17-10 win
5 Aaron Burbridge (JR WR/RB/DB FH Harrison) – Is there anything this guy doesn't do and do REALLY REALLY WELL. Coach Herrington plays Burbridge at running back for the first time on Saturday and he responds with a 30-yard TD run to go with his customary 100 yards and 1 TD (23 yarder) receiving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Down To Five

High school hoop heads and college recruiting fiends will have to wait another few days to find out where the state's No. 1 ranked prep basketball prospect, Birmigham Detroit Country Day 6-10 center Amir Williams, will be playing his ball at the next level. While most of the state's cage Class of 2011 signed their National Letter of Intent on November 10, Williams has said that he will probably announce his decision by Wednesday, two days after the start of practice for the upcoming season.
Although he didn't make his official choice yet, Williams did narrow the field of elite suitors down to just five schools he will be selecting from.
Here's how it breaks down:
Ohio State
Although a visit to UofM this past weekend initially appeared a mere courtesy call, some are saying that head coach John Belein and the Wolverines made a major impression on the Yellowjackets big fella. The fact that Williams - rated the No. 2 high school center in the country - listed them in his final cut down of choices says as much.
That all said, I'm still hearing that it's most likely he will head out of state to play his college hoops. Those "in the know" say it's a two-team race between Ohio State and Florida. From what I can best decipher, Williams, who led DCD to a state title last year as a junior averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game, is leaning towards the Gators and heading down south to Florida.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Great Burnzini - Regional Report

Regional Finals Picks
Warren De La Salle v. FH Harrison – De La Salle is good, Harrison is much better. This one is going to end up being a Hawks blow out…..TAKE IT 2 THR BANK! There's no way senior QB Tommy Vento has back-to-back poor outings. Juniors Aaron Burbridge (WR/CB), Devin Funchess (TE/LB) and Jake Vento (WR/S) keep getting better every game and THAT'S SCARY!
Harrison 31, De La Salle 15
Utica Eisenhower v. Lake Orion –  As my boy Stuart Scott of ESPN often says, the 2010 Lake Orion Dragons are as cool as the other side of the pillow. Sorry Ike, your season is about to come to an end at the hands of coach Chris Bell's SUPER BALLERS!!!!
LO 37, Ike 20
Plymouth v. Novi Detroit CC – The Shamrocks sensational sophomore tailback tandem of Wyatt Shallman and Anthony Darkangelo UNLEASH THE FURY of CC's new YOUTH REVOLUTION and coach Mach and the Blue Cru ride it to the final four for the straight year in a row 
CC 28, Plymouth 17
Fenton v. WL Central – CAN U SAY FIRST REGIONAL TITLE EVER for IKE THE VIKE!!! A few weeks ago I didn't know if this group was as good as the '06 team, now I do: THEY ARE BETTER!
WLC 33, Fenton 26
MH Madison v. Millington – In honor of Eagles head coach Drake Wilkins, I've decided to give Madiosn's "Reign Man" aka Valdez Showers another nickname (one that I took directly out of one of my favorite tracks from my boy Drake, the hip-hop artist). Alright here it is……..Valdez "LAST NAME EVER, FIRST NAME GREATEST" Showers. I like how that sounds! Madison drives Millington MAD with SHOWERS and SHOWERS of TDs provided by Valdez himself per standard operating procedure
Madison 41, Millington 32
Redford Thurston v. OL St. Mary's – Trying to decide whose the best player on this Eaglets squad is like trying to pick between a BEAMER, BENZ or BENTLEY….It's impossible to go wrong!
OLSM 29, Thurston 12
Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes v. Warren Collegiate – The Lakers have been living on the corner of AWESOME and AMAZING all season long and Burney doesn't see any moving trucks in the vicinity. SULLIVAN 2 KARBOWSKI for the game-winner in 2OTs!!
WOLL 37 WC 31

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekend Watchers

A few players I expect to have big games this weekend in the prep football playoffs
Mike Birney (Jr. QB Novi Detroit CC) – The shamrocks junior field general has been a bit quiet as of late, letting his running game do most of the heavy lifting the last couple of weeks, but I think his play with his arm and his feet will be the difference against Plymouth in the regionals this weekend.
Kristian Malaj (DL Sr. FH Harrison) – The centerpiece and leader of the Hawks stout attack in the trenches, this beast of a lineman has been causing havoc in opposing backfields all season long and it will continue this Saturday against Warren De La Salle in Harrison's 15th appearance in a regional championship game (in which it has lost only three)
Keith Stonestreet (WR Sr. OL St. Mary's) – With stud wideout Allen Robinson ailing from some nicks and bruises, I foresee Stonestreet stepping to the forefront and tearing the Redford Thurston secondary up in his stead (although Robinson WILL still be suiting up and playing on Saturday because that's the kind of WARRIOR this kid is)
Devonte Snyder, Dwayne Burrows, Devyn Cayhill (MH Madison linebacking corps) – SEC-bound Valdez Showers (RB-CB committed to Florida) and the Eagles aren't at full-strength on offense because they've lost starting QB Tony Lowry to a broken leg, so as the tourney goes and the comp gets better, this group of defensive gems will have to carry the torch for head coach Drake Wilkins and the Purple and Gold if Madison has any shot at making a run back to Ford Field like it did in '06 – BURNEY SEZ IT STARTS FRIDAY NIGHT VS. MILLINGTON IN THE REGIONALS!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Balling Across The USA

Burney's OC All-American Men's Hoops Squad
G Kalin Lucas (OL St. Mary's/Michigan State) – Arguably the best point guard in the nation, so I suppose he's good enough to run the point for my squad of OC'ers
G Ray McCallum, Jr. (Birmingham DCD/UofD-Mercy) – All I can say is: WATCH OUT for this phenom, who I'm saying will dominate the Horizon League this season as a true frosh…anybody who knows Burney knows he likes to lather himself up in some of that rich and buttery RMJ cornbread and they'll be plenty to go around very soon over in TITAN LAND!
G/F Tim Williams (Pontiac Northern/South Alabama) – PURE SCORER and great athlete who is running things for the Jags down in 'Bama, leading the team in scoring and getting selected all-conference last year as a junior. Oh, yeah, Williams is a PURE WINNER TOO, guiding the Northern Huskies to three district titles and a pair of regionals in his three years on varsity as a prepster
F Austin Calhoun (Southfield/Bowling Green) – Has been quietly getting his footing at the college ranks after a stellar prep career where he averaged over 16 points and 10 rebounds for two straight years as a Blue Jay. Expect for Calhoun to have a breakout year this season for the BG BALLERS!
C Keith Benson (Birmingham DCD/Oakland) – Much better college hoopster than he was a high school player, really coming into his own these past couple of seasons under coach Kampe's mentorship with the Golden Grizz. CAN U SAY FUTURE NBA FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK?
Sixth Man – Darnell Brown (Birmingham DCD/Bowling Green) – By the end of the 2010-2011 campaign, Brown will be one of the best lead guards in the MAC
Seventh Man – Dave Curletti (OL St. Mary's/Northwestern) – My "Lunch Pail specialist" who will come off the bench and give me those "grind minutes" every team needs for success     
Head Coach – Dane Fife (Clarkston/IUPUI-FW) – Was there really any other choice?
Asst – Brett Reed (AH Oakland Christian/Lehigh) – Pretty amazing that the OC is home to not one, but TWO of the brightest young minds in the nation's head coaching fraternity (It really shouldn't be that surprising since both Fife and Reed were taught by two of the best boys bball coaches in county history in Dan Fife at Clarkston and Ed Mehlberg at OCS)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Young Guns

Youth is being served in prep backfields across the county this postseason as a number of underclassmen running backs have been integral parts of their team's current playoff runs.
Getting the call up to varsity late in the year, Farmington Hills Harrison freshman running back Lorenzo Collins has been impressive toting the ball for the Hawks. In both wins this postseason for Harrison, he has contributed touchdown runs, including a 28-yard score in last week's 37-27 win over Brother Rice and the game-securing trip into the end zone in the team's 28-13 defeat of Berkley on Saturday.
Part of the reason why Novi Detroit Catholic Central is riding a three-game win streak and has been able to rebound from a late regular season losing skid has been the play of the sophomore tailback tandem of Anthony Darkangelo and Wyatt Shallman. Darkangelo has been getting a lot of carries all season long, while Shallman has just recently worked himself into the ball-carrying rotation for the Shamrocks by putting together a string of opportunistic outputs. In Catholic Central's 37-0 win against Detroit Cody in the regular season finale, Shallman ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns on only eight carries. He scored a pair of touchdowns in the Shamrocks 42-6 defeat of Detroit Mumford in the first round of the playoffs last week and scored another on a long run in the second half of the team's 35-10 throttling of Northville on Saturday in a Division 1 district final.  Running for two touchdowns and a game-high 100 yards, Darkangelo led Catholic Central's rushing attack against Northville.
Sophomore Grant Niemiec is Orchard Lake St. Mary's leading rusher this season and his bruising style of running is a major reason why the Eaglets won a share of the Catholic High School League title in the regular season and took home a Division 3 district trophy over the weekend. He scored on a 12-yard touchdown run last week in a playoff-opening win against Lapeer East and then ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in St. Mary's 71-44 victory over Avondale on Saturday. The Niemiec family got some added good news this fall when Grant's big sister got engaged at halftime of a recent Eaglets' game to an Eaglets assistant coach.
One other name to keep a look out for is Brian Walker, a freshman running back at Birmingham Brother Rice who scored over 25 TDs this season on the Warriors JV and will share feature back duties next season on varsity with junior-to- be Deshun Brown (not to mention do-everything senior-to-be slotback Devin Church) 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Five For Fighting - Round 2 Roundup

OC Top 5 – Performances on the prep gridiron from district championship weekend
1 Marques Stevenson (RB Lake Orion) – This kid is the definition of first-class and he showed just how top notch he really is on Friday night by busting up the Grand  Blanc defense for 290 yards and four TDs, all of which occurred on plays of 40 yards or more. Plain and simple a GREAT high school tailback with genuine BIG PLAY ability every time he touches the rock
2 Novi Detroit CC Rushing Attack – Shamrocks racked up 318 yards on the ground in a 35-10 trouncing of a very good Northville squad. Great to see CC once again playing quintessential CC football and mashing the comp in between the tackles! CAN U SAY BACK ON THE WINNING TRACK?
3 Mitch Robinson (QB AH Avondale) – Ending the year in the same offensive whirlwind he'd been engineering all season long by passing for 508 yards and 6 TDs in the 'Jackets loss to OLSM in the district finals
4 Zach Leimbach (QB WL Central) – Against a notoriously stingy RH Adams defense, Leimbach threw for 192 yards and two scores as the Vikings rode their junior signal caller's arm into the regional finals for the first time since 2006. This kid is playing with such SWAG, I'm thinking about nicknaming him Jay-Z!
5 Valdez Showers (RB MH Madison) – In a nutshell, Valdez Showers told Lutheran North he was Christopher Columbus and they were the Pilgrims as he rolled over the Mustangs 'D' for 233 yds and 4 TDs on the ground in the Eagles 46-3 beat down.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Five For Fighting - Sparky's Sendoff

OC Top 5 – 'Old School' Skippers
In honor of the death of legendary Detroit Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson, I've decided to give my top 5 all-time Oakland County "old school" coaches
1 Roy Burkhart (Ferndale basketball) – Led the Eagles to the '63 and '66 state hoop championship
2 Don Sackett (Birmingham Seaholm baseball) – Two words: MIRACLE MAPLES ('88 Class A state champs, winning every tournament game by one run)
3 Joe D'angelo (Birmingham DCD football) – Old school all the way in leading the 'Jackets to its first state title on the gridiron back in 1986
4 Ralph Grubb (Pontiac Central basketball) – never won a state title, but a legend nonetheless especially in the pantheon of 'Yac cage greats
5 Art Paddy (OL St. Mary's football) – Sideline general of the '77 state champ Eaglets

Friday, November 5, 2010

Slowed Down

In some rare bad news from HAWKS NATION, the Farmington Hills Harrison football squad will be without the services of starting running back Stephen Slobin for the rest of the 2010 playoff run due to a season-ending knee injury suffered in the team's exhilarating come from behind win over Brother Rice in Rd. 1. Although the Hawks juggernaut gridiron gang will probably keep marching on down the victory trail minus Slobin's talent (THESE GUYS ARE JUST THAT DEEP!), this is tragic news from the standpoint of leadership and the fact that Slobin, an integral piece of the Harrison's successful puzzle on the field the past two seasons, will never again have the chance to suit up as a high schooler. "The Slo Dawg" was the ultimate "glue guy" in the lockeroom and an on-field sparkplug with his excellent blocking and inspirational passionate play.
Oh, and this kid could bust out of the tackles and into the end zone pretty well too. Last season as a junior, he scored 10 TDs and ran for an average of close to five yards per carry. In a game against Groves in 2009, he rushed for 115 yards and 4 TDs and was named OAA player of the week. Good thing for Slo Dawg and the rest of the HAWKS NATION, Jake Slobin, Stephen's younger brother and starting offensive lineman and all his boys like Tommy Vento, Derek Head, Ray Hall and the rest of the crew will almost certainly have his back and take the Green and Gold to the program's record 13th state title in his stead later this month.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making a Pick

Having the choice of playing baseball or football in college, Birmingham Brother Rice senior Jimmy Pickens decided that life on the diamond will be his future at the next level. This past week, Pickens an all-state performer and four-year starter in both sports, accepted a scholarship offer to play baseball at Michigan State University.
Pickens is a first class athlete and a first class kid. As trite as it sounds, those are sometimes a rare combination these days. On the baseball diamond he is a big slugging catcher who hits for speed and average and possess a lethal arm behind the plate, throwing out opposing base runners like his name is JOHNNY BENCH! The Spartans got themselves a gem in Pickens, the most recent in a long line of Pickens brothers to star in multiple sports at Brother Rice.
Like his older siblings, Pickens is just as good as a football player than he is a baseball player and could have easily accepted one of a series scholarship offers to play in college on the gridiron. Whether it was running the ball as a top-of-the-line tailback, hitting the holes in the line like he does fast balls coming down the plate in the spring, or leading the defensive secondary as a hard- hitting strong safety, doling out vicious hits and snaring critical interceptions like his life depended on it, he proved a thorn in the side of every opposing coordinator the Warriors faced in his time wearing good ole' No. 38 for the Orange and Black.
Oh, did I mention he's an out-and-out winner too? During his freshman year, he was an integral part of the Warriors' state championship baseball squad and just in these last few weeks he almost single handedly sparked the school's football team from a 1-3 start to a 6-3 finish that went along with a CHSL championship.
For you youngsters and parents out there, Jimmy Pickens is everything any aspiring student-athlete should strive to be!!!!!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Javelle Who?

Unless you're an NBA junkie, you probably don't know who Javelle McGee is. However, If you're a sports fan from Oakland County you should since McGee was the last player from the local prep hoops scene to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, an honor that places him in quite exclusive company.
Don't fret. It's really not your fault. If you blinked, you surely missed McGee's time in the OC. You see, this lanky and athletically-gifted 7-footer played only sparingly on the varsity squad at Birmingham Detroit Country Day back in 2004 as a sophomore. Due to his family moving out of state, McGee finished his high school playing career in Chicago. Earning a scholarship to the University of Nevada, he came into his own at the college level, averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds per game in the 2007-2008 season. With his draft stock soaring, he declared for the NBA draft that summer and was taken by the Washington Wizards with the 18th pick. Today, in his third year in the league at only 22, he has worked his way into being a starter for the Wiz and is thought of by many experts as a player to watch with a tremendous "up side" and potential to improve massively in the coming years.
Genetics is on Mcgee's side as he is the son of Pam Mcgee, a two-time national champion and all-American guard at USC in the 1980s and George Montgomery, a former all-Big Ten center at Illinois and NBA draft pick. Along with her twin sister Paula, the Mcgee girls starred as prepsters in Flint and both helped lead the U.S. National Team to an Olympic gold medal in 1984. In the inaugural WNBA draft in 1997, Pam was the second overall selection by the Sacramento Monarchs following a decade plus of barnstorming as an all-star through various European leagues. She holds the distinction of being the only WNBA player to have a son make it to the NBA.
McGee is the third player in DCD school history to be an NBA first round draft pick, joining college All-Americans Chris Webber (Michigan) and Shane Battier (Duke) on the distinguished list. Don't be surprised if former Yellowjacket and current all-conference college cage star Keith Benson (Oakland) becomes no. 4 this summer.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Five For Fighting - Playoff Fever

OC Top 5 – Performances from the weekend's prep sports action
1 Mitch Robinson & Ray Tillman (AH Avondale football) – Robinson tossed five TD passes and completed 22 of 44 attempts for 430 yards, including the game-winning 25-yd connection to Tillman (160 yards and 3 TDs) in the final moments to bring the Yellowjackets back from 13 points down in the final four minutes of play…CAN U SAY THE JOE MONTANA & JERRY RICE OF THE OC?
2 FH Harrison defense (football) – The Hawks BIG PLAY 'D' snatched victory from the hands of defeat against fellow state gridiron titan Brother Rice, returning a fumble (junior safety-wide receiver Jake Vento) and an interception (junior cornerback-wide receiver Aaron Burbridge) in the closing two minutes to rally Harrison back from a 27-22 deficit in what Burney is declaring THE GAME OF THE CENTURY IN THE OC so far!!  TAKE IT 2 THE BANK!
3 Lee Elisevich (BH Lahser soccer) – Putting together a HAT TRICK, Elisevic, a high-scoring junior forward, fueled the Knights to a 8-0 blasting of Eaton Rapids and a D2 regional championship
4 Tony Annese (RH Adams football) – Highlanders head coach Tony Partrito's nephew and best overall player accumulated over 325 yards of all-purpose offense with both his feet and his arm, delivering a personally-addressed deathblow to a very good WL Western defense, not to mention the Warriors whole season
5 Terrell Porter (Berkley football) & Valdez Showers (MH Madison football) – The OC's two most-prolific running backs both went all THEMSELVES in round 1 of the playoffs, each doing irreparable damage to their respective opponents. Showers went for 335 yards and five TDs in the Eagles comeback victory over Clawson and Porter busted out for 196 yards and one score in the Bears takedown of a Farmington
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