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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Playoff Notes - First Round

Brother Rice- FHHarrison game was INSTANT CLASSIC as expected: Truly unfortunate that one of these great teams – Rice in this case – has to go home so early…What have I told you people about Aaron Burbridge's shutdown skills and big play ability as a cornerback.  Keep getting busy for your boy Burney, AB!
TOUGHEST QUESTION OF ALL-TIME – Which is the better on-field brother duo, The Ventos at Harrison or the Anneses at Adams?
Lake Orion 'D' records a season-high five takeaways in Rd 1 defeat of Davison
Don't look now, but AH Avondale junior QB Mitch Robinson just threw another touchdown pass to Ray Tillman
A little rain on the Yellow Jackets parade: In quite a dubious factoid, Avondale won its game "pinball-style" 49-48, yet finished the night - 25 yards rushing the football
I'm very excited by the prospect of an Avondale-OLSM showdown in Rd 2 next week….come on Eaglets, make it happen!!!  
MH Madison has its state title hopes take a real hit with the loss of starting QB Tony Lowry in last week regular season finale
I hate to say it, but I saw Valdez Showers tearing up the Clawson 'D' like he did on Friday night. However, I have to give the Trojans props for playing so darn well against the ultra-talented Eagles.
Coach Bob Meyer and the WL Central make a statement that last year was LAST YEAR and this year is THIS YEAR with blow out win to open playoffs….No late season letdown for Ike the Vike in 2010!
Burney was surprised by Farmington's late-season meltdown (Falcons give up most points of the season – 25 – in 25-14 loss to Berkley, only score 14 points total on offense in final 12 quarters of the year)
Farewell Rochester Falcons and Holly Bronchos, it's been a fun ride and you guys have nothing to be ashamed of!!
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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Departed

He knew the stakes were sky high when practice started three months ago. He understood the dire consequences involved, what was in the balance if he didn't guide his team back to the promise land on the football field this season.
Unfortunately fate was unkind to sixth-year Birmingham Seaholm head football coach Chris Fahr, whose team started hot out of the gate with three straight wins to open the 2010 campaign, but faltered late losing five of its last six to finish 4-5 overall and out of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. As a result and in a situation that came to no surprise to him nor prep watchers around the area, Fahr found himself on the hot seat, dealing with an angry fan base accustomed to the Maples being one of the most-winning suburban football programs in Metro Detroit. Sadly, the outcome was inevitable.
On Thursday afternoon in the Seaholm lockeroom, Fahr gave a heartfelt and emotional farewell speech to his team and a handful of close friends, resigning his post as head coach of the Maples football squad effective immediately.
Fahr's career on the Seaholm sidelines was very successful right off the bat, as the Maples went 8-3 and claimed both an OAA league title and a win in the first round of the playoffs in his first year at the helm in 2005. However, after back-to-back 5-4 records and dips below the .500 mark the past three seasons, his regime became increasingly shaky.
Off the gridiron, Fahr should be commended for his excellent mentorship of his players over the years, and the fact that he even went so far as to welcome one of his more down-and-out players, UofM-bound Shawn Conway, into his own home the last six months, making him part of his family and getting a judge to declare him Conway's legal guardian. I have no doubt that Coach Fahr, a strong-minded and resilient man, will land on his feet somewhere else in the coaching world very soon. Burney personally wishes DA COACH the best of luck in all his future endeavors!!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rich Get Richer

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes head girls basketball coach Steve Robak's deep arsenal of on-court weapons is about to get a little deeper in the coming months. Starting second semester, Robak and the Lakers will add the services of standout junior guard Carlee Cottrell, a transfer from Auburn Hills Oakland Christian and one of the most deadly-accurate outside shooters in the state. Cottrell's long distance skills will blend nicely with an already stacked group of players returning for Robak as WOLL seeks to capture a second straight Class D state title this winter. Teaming Cottrell, a two-year starter and two-time all-conference selection at Oakland Christian, with all-stater Lauren Robak and super sophs Lexie Robak and Ava Doetch, will provide the Lakers arguably the top overall backcourt in the county, regardless of school size.    
Being a former ace-marksmen of the perimeter myself as a prepster, I always keep a sweet spot in my heart for specialists of the long range bomb and that's exactly what Cottrell is. This girl can shoot so well, the U.S. Army should consider signing her up for sniper duty!!! I've seen Cottrell play on seven or eight occasions and I swear she's only missed like two shots from deep that ENTIRE TIME!
On the down side of this story, it appears the once highly-vaunted Oakland Christian girls basketball program is in shambles. Longtime head coach Ed Mehlberg – a small school coaching legend – has allegedly resigned and rumors are circulating that there is the possibility that the Lancers might not have enough girls for a varsity team this year. That would be TRAGIC, to say the least.  Besides Cottrell's transfer, Emily Sweet, another all-conference player for the Lancers the past two seasons left for Flint Powers.  I for one wish things get simmered down over at OCS as quick as possible and the state-power we once knew – I'm talking last year, people – is back on the hardwood once again playing quintessential LANCER BBALL aka WINNING BBALL!!
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Five For Fighting - Mega Matchups

OC Top 5 – Best First Round Prep Football Playoff Games
1Birmingham Brother Rice v. FH Harrison – Burney is incensed that this game is taking place in the first round but that said, it is unquestionably the most intriguing opening round postseason matchup in the state. Like a championship prize fight, this is sure to be two primed heavyweights standing toe-to-toe in the center of the ring exchanging equally devastating blows.
p.s. Warriors senior safety Loran Jaddou is a BAD MAN!
2. AH Avondale v. Hazel Park – Lots and lots of offense and contrasting styles of play make for the best matchups, as is the case here with the Yellow Jackets and Vikings locking horns in the rematch of an earlier season 'instant classic' won by HP 58-50!
3. Holly v. WL Central – This is a showdown of two of the best rushing attacks in the area and I'm extremely interested to see if the Bronchos can keep up with Central in the Vikes' own crib
4. MH Bishop Foley v. RO Shrine – Two great small school prep signal callers going head-to-head in this one as Brad Schalk of the Ventures and Branch Kampe of the Knights are set to take to the air and see who can out-throw the other on the way to the 'W' (this game is also compelling because both Foley and Shrine are in the CHSL, but did not play each other this year in the regular season)
5. Farmington v. Berkley – These two teams are entering the postseason on opposite trajectories: The Falcons are coming into the playoffs on a 2-gm losing slide, while head coach JIMMY MAC and his growling Bears are coming off a last-second OT thriller of a win over Avondale in their regular season finale. The playoffs are always the great equalizer and I have confidence that Coach Bechtel will have his boys in the Blue and White ready to go on Friday night….aka "OAA Crossover WK part II – the extended edition" and make this one a dandy!
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Super Dave

Former Oakland County prep athletic star and current NFL defensive stalwart David Bowens was pretty darn incredible this past weekend by returning two interceptions for touchdowns as his Cleveland Browns pulled the upset on the defending Super Bowl champion, New Orleans Saints. Bowens looked so viral and agile on the pair of plays, you'd think it was the 1990s and Bowens was still suiting up for Orchard Lake St. Mary's, not in the middle of his 11th year as a pro (40 pro career sacks).
Those who can remember back over 15 years ago when Bowens was a three-sport phenom for the Eaglets – wowing the County with his raw skill and brute power whether on the gridiron as a LB/TE, on the high school hardwood as a bruising forward and vicious dunk machine or in the track&field arena as a top-tier long jumper – undoubtedly have amazing memories of his exploits. And boy, were there a lot of them!
In the fall of 1994 when he was a senior at OLSM, Bowens helped lead the Eaglets to a state title on the football field, scoring a touchdown on offense and collecting 15 tackles on defense in the state championship game. During the winter months of his prep playing days, Bowens was an all-state hoopster, spearheading St. Mary's to the Class C state finals as a junior and a Top 10 Ranking in the state in all three years he was on the Eaglets varsity. This guy used to pick up doubles-doubles and throw down rim-rattling slams like it was a graduation requirement. Oh, I almost forgot:Just for good measure, Bowens added an individual state title in track and field in 1993.
Heavily-recruited in both sports, Bowens chose to play football in college and selected to further his playing career in the Big Ten at Michigan (it should be noted however he did play one year of both football and basketball for the Maze and Blue). As a freshman in 1995, he was named to the Big Ten all-newcomer team, leading the Wolverines in Sacks. The next season as a sophomore he set the UofM all-time record for most sacks in a single season with 12. Transferring out of Ann Arbor in 1996, he landed at Western Illinois where he was named D2 All-American by accumulating 135 tackles and 11 sacks in 1998.
Drafted into the NFL in 1999 in the 5th round by the Denver Broncos, Bowens has been on seven teams in over a decade on the job (DEN, MIA, CLE, NYJ, GB, BUF, WAS). Since the average NFL career lasts less than five years, the fact that my boy DB has been "In The Show" for 11 seasons demonstrates what a first-class player he really is.
On a personal note, Bowens was the best defensive player I've ever seen play at the prep level. The first person I've seen in quite some time that seems to match what I saw in Bowens is current OLSM linebacking prodigy James Ross, who as it turns out wears Bowens' old No. 6 jersey...coincidence? I sure hope not. I also once played a little AAU hoops with Bowens back in the day and let me tell you from someone he once soared over on his way to the rim, this guy's dunks literally brought the house down. In the 1995 Oakland County Slam Dunk Contest - which he won in an epic dunk off between him and future NBA'er Shane Battier - he nearly shattered several backboards with his patented flying "windmill-tomahawks"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Burney's Prep Football Rankings - End of The Road

OC Top 10 – Final Poll        
1 FH Harrison – Unquestionably the best team in Oakland County led by arguably the best signal caller in the state in senior gunslinger Tommy Vento (note to college recruiters, don't sleep on this kid, he's a special one).
p.s. the move by the Hawks coaching staff to allow junior star WR Aaron Burbridge to play full-time on defense at cornerback could put Harrison over the edge in their quest for their state-record 13th state championship. This guy is pure "glue" when matching up with a receiver 
2 Birmingham Brother Rice – The Warriors are nothing flashy this season, just really, really good!
3 Lake Orion – Left no doubt that they are ready for the playoffs by rebounding from getting roughed up by Harrison in Week 8 by doing a little roughing up themselves against rival Clarkston in Week 9
4 OL St. Mary's – Senior wide receiver Allen Robinson is a true gem and bona fide playmaker who Burney thinks would fit in perfectly in Mark D'antonio's system up in East Lansing at MSU……hint, hint 2 Sparty
5 (tie) Birmingham Detroit Country Day – Last season, I thought the 'Jackets defense would be their Achilles heel, this year that notion couldn't be further from the truth and the DCD 'D' will be the primary reason the team makes it back to Ford Field in a few weeks
6 WL Central – An overflowing amount of many impact players on both sides of the ball make the Vikings primed to make their longest playoff run in school history
7 Hazel Park – Head coach Scott Guthrie and his staff run a brilliant scheme and over the past seasons HP has put out the county's most consistently devastating rushing attack
8 (tie) Clarkston – I love me some Coach K-Rich and the Wolfpack, but injuries might wind up derailing any plans for a lengthy ride in the upcoming postseason 
8 (tie) RH Adams – You can't stop the Highlanders rock-solid linemen tandem of Spencer Cairo and Brad Nylen, you can only hope to contain them!
9 MH Madison – Junior QB Tony Lowry just has a tremendous "upside" and if I was a college recruiter in the Midwest I'd be more than willing to take a flyer on this kid with a ton of raw ability and a natural swagger to his game under center
10 Berkley – Get busy my main man and namesake, Jim Birnie!! Bears finish 8-1, tied for best season in school history…God, what a great job coach Jimmy Mac does!!! I would have loved to play for this guy

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Instant Feedback - Wire-to-Wire

OC Top 10 - Performances on the Gridiron From Friday Night
1 Holly – Rallies back to beat Ortonville Brandon and clinch only the second playoff berth in school history…..way to go coach Culloty and the Bronchos!
2 Darren Lumpkin (Oxford) – This kid has come out of nowhere late in the season for head coach Bud Rowley; he had another great outing on Friday night running for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns in helping lead Oxford to a comeback win over Oak Park
3 Tommy Vento (FH Harrison) – Might be the best quarterback in the state!!!!!!!!  (I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's probably true)
4 John Maltese (Lakeland) – Great call, Coach: Maltese decided to go for two instead of going to double OT against Milford as the Eagles dash the Mavericks playoff hopes
5 Leviticus Payne (Southfield) – Blue Jays have life courtesy of L-Payne causing massive pain to the comp on Fri, going for 3 TDs in win over Lathrup and keeping the team's postseason chances alive
6 John Mattar (Troy) – Colts star linebacker goes over to the other side of the ball and rushes for 4 TDs in first significant action toting the rock, allowing Coach Griff and the Troy faithful to stay above water in their fight for a playoff berth
7 Birmingham Seaholm – Kudos to Coach Fahr and the Maples for getting it together for the season finale and looking mighty good in
8 Zach Masserant (Novi) – 205 yards and a score in Wildcats victory
9 Deonte Hill (Clawson) – a school-record 26 tackles…..ENOUGH SAID
10 Wyatt Shallman (Novi Detroit CC) – Rescues Shamrocks from ending season on a 3-game slide by rushing for 105 yards and 3 TDs (as well as recording a safety on defense by sacking the opposing QB in the end zone) in CC smackdown of Detroit Cody
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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Decision

According to my inside sources, the state's No. ranked prep basketball recruit for the Class of 2011, Birmingham Detroit Country Day 6-foot-11 inch center Amir Williams, won't be wasting much time making the decision on what college he will be attending next year. Expect Williams, a rare talent in the post, to announce his choice before the start of the season in early-December when him and the Yellowjackets take off on their quest to repeat as Class B state champions.
Williams is the most dominating big man Oakland County has seen in the last few years at least, if not the past decade-plus. He has a long wingspan and an extremely velvety-soft touch around the basket and at the free throw line. His ability to finish at the rim and run the floor on the fastbreak is second to none. Agile and athletic, he's also a master shot blocker and rebounder with the skill to score the basketball both with his back to the basket and facing up from out to 18 feet. Last season he really came into his own on the floor, realizing his potential as a true impact player and commanding post presence; AKA he had an in-game epiphany that he could dunk on anyone anytime he wanted to and then went about doing just that!!
In the most simplistic of terms, Williams is a human, walking, talking, breathing triple-double on the high school hardwood, bringing terror to defenders, opposing coaches, rims and backboards throughout the state alike. Just pencil him in for 20 points (8 of which at a minimum will come off slam dunks), 15 boards and 10 blocks a game this winter. ESPN ranks Williams in their top 55 players in the nation and a Top 10 selection at his position.  
Practically every college bball recruiter in the country wants to get Williams inked with their respective program, making his scholarship offer sheet equally as varied as his game
Let's take a look:
Wake Forest
Ohio State
Miami (FL)
Burney's moles are telling him that Amir is going to head out of state for his future college destination 
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bonus Bytes - Rapid Fire

Jake Slobin, a starting sophomore offensive tackle for the FH Harrison, could be the best kept secret in the Class of 2013
Is it just me or is the only thing that is halfway decent about the UofM defense this season on the football field are OC gridiron studs, Mike Martin (DT-CC) and Kenny Demens (LB-DCD)?
SUPERSONIC UPSET SPECIAL ALERT: Ferndale will qualify for the MHSAA football playoffs this Friday night by pulling the upset over OAA Blue champ Hazel Park…..McTear to McTear for the winning-score in OT sends the Eagles fans into a frenzy
I love me some Walled Lake Northern Knights soccer – These guys are pure grit and guts, scratching and clawing with tenacity in everything they do on the pitch (Shootout-win on Wed night over Lakeland)…….And what an amazing job head coach Chris Stevanovic has done molding that program from literally nothing into a county powerhouse
On the subject of prep soccer in the city of Walled Lake, I can't believe WL Western star goaltender Jimmy Hague is only a FRESHMAN…now that's SCARY
Burney was sad to see some outstanding high school soccer careers come to close this week: guys like Chris Stewart (Rochester), Kyle Alesheski (WL Western) and Jarrett Kersten (Clarkston) come to mind
About a week and a half ago, I wrote my weekly prep column in the Oakland Press about all the super-skilled brother combos that are competing on the local high school football scene this year. Here a few glaring ommissions:
1The Annese Bros (RH Adams) – Tony and Phil are the catalysts of the Highlanders offense and a dynamic pair to say the least
2 The Calvano Bros (Clarkston) – Chris and Sean are both important cogs in the Wolfpack's excellent defense
3 The Slobin Bros (FH Harrison) – Doesn't get much better than sophomore Jake blocking for senior Steve and his backfield-mate Austin Hunter this fall….CAN U SAY PERFECT SEASON?
Between prep football coaching legends, Tom Mach (CC, Al Fracassa (Brother Rice) and John Herrington (FH Harrison) they have 29 state championship rings
The smartest move Coach Fracassa has made this whole season was to move senior Jimmy Pickens back to defense on a permanent basis – I know the logic was to safe Pickens for his workload as a ball carrier on offense, but he's just too good of a leader and defender to not have at safety on every play. TRANSLATION: FOUR STRAIGHT 'W's
Farmington LB Justin Roe has been getting the job done in a major way all season long in the murky and thankless shadows of the Falcons very potent and headline-grabbing offense
Disappointed to see my boys over at Birmingham Seaholm taking such a nosedive in the second half of the football season, especially after such an inspiring start to the season – Have no fear Maples fans, things WILL get better
Jason Gamble of WL Western plays football on the offensive and defensive line like he pitches from the baseball mound in the spring – PURE POWER AND VELOCITY
Former OC hoop king, Marlin Mason (FH Harrison), now at Detroit Cass Tech recently verbally committed to play his college ball at Cleveland State. If Mason would have stayed with the Hawks, Coach Mantyla would have had one heck of a frontcourt coming back this season in him, Evan Patton and Devin Funchess

Out on the Macomb County gridiron scene, watch for SH Stevenson's Jeremy Locklear, a standout junior defensive back, next season as Burney is sure Stevenson will comes back strong from an uncharacteristically down campaign this fall with gusto in 2011 courtesy of the hard hitting Locklear and co.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five For Fighting - Super Sophs

OC Top 5 – Sophomore Football Prep Players
1         Jon Reschke (LB – Birmingham Brother Rice)
Another in a long line of outstanding Warrior linebackers who is developing at a rapid pace this fall under the tutelage of captain Timmy "Jumbo" Hamilton
2         Johnny Williams (QB – Holly)
This youngster has been brilliant running coach Culloty's offense, tearing defenses up with his legs and his arm as TEAM HORSE is on the cusp of the school's second postseason appearance ever.....LETS GO BRONCHOS!
3         Garius Coleman/Ed Huckabee (WR-DL FH Harrison)
The fall of 2012 will be a good one when this superb pair and three-year starters are seniors. (Coleman is a jitterbug of a juke specialist whether returning kicks on special teams or catching passes in the flat on offense, while Huckabee is a terror in the trenches. Both have been major contributors during the Hawks 8-0 season so far and will gain even more valuable experience in what is sure to be a lengthy ride through the playoffs over the next month or so   
4         Greg Webber (OL – Troy)
One of the anchors of Troy's offensive line for his second straight year and he's got two more to go punishing pass rushers on behalf of Coach Griff and Colts Nation
5         Andrew McClellan (QB Hazel Park)
Has shown a ton of growth and improvement since the start of the year, not letting the Vikings prodigious offensive attack miss a beat after last season's similar high-scoring campaign under Taylor Marshall. Burney thinks when its all said and done on McClellan's career, he will lead the Vikings to at least 2 district and league titles
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mother's Day

In honor of the death of actress Barbara Billingsly, the ultimate TV mom (June Cleaver of the iconic 1960s family sitcom, "Leave it To Beaver"), I've decided to shout out some of my favorite local sports moms.
Momma Cherocchi – A wonderful and intelligent woman who practically runs all the day-to-day affairs of legendary Birmingham Brother Rice head football coach Al Fracassa. Momma Cherocchi has two great sons, in former all-state Warrior linebackers Zach (Hillsdale) and Justin (CMU) and is a pure pleasure to deal with and be around. I am a HUGE fan of the Cherocchi Clan!
Momma Gleaves – I first met Momma Gleaves – mother to none other than "The Sack Man" himself, Marcus Gleaves of OL St. Mary's – at the concession stand last year at one of the Eaglets games and she struck me as the quintessential ultra-supportive football mom. She could be the loudest person in the stands cheering on her boy (a "Grade A" class act in his own right) and she has every reason to because he plays like a crazed beast for Coach Porritt on the Eaglets' defensive line
Momma Brundidge – A carbon-copy of Momma Gleaves, accept instead of cheering on "Sack Man" on the prep gridiron, she's cheering on Southfield's Carlton "Captain Amazing" Brundidge on the high school hardwood. Momma Brundidge is going to have a lot of cheer about this year because Burney thinks the Blue Jays will be raising a state title banner by season's end.
Momma Robb – Since Momma Robb is a nurse, it's no surprise she's sweet as pie and obviously one of the most loving and caring moms around, looking after daughters Allison (starting guard on the 2009 CHSL champ Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes girls hoop squad and now a sophomore at Saginaw Valley State) and Anna (current freshman JV guard for the Lakers). I love my own mom, but since I'm Jewish, I think I deserve a Catholic Mom as well. I'm declaring Momma Robb my official "CHSL mom"!
Momma Williams – Being that she is the mother of Madison "The Big Classy" Williams (Birmingham DCD/MSU), it's only natural that Momma Williams is CLASSY with a capital "C"! She also a big reason why "The Big Classy" was a three-time all-state girls hoop selection and got honored as a McDonald's All-American last winter, being a former all-state cager herself back in the day at Birmingham Seaholm and then at the D1 level in college at University of Texas-San Antonio.
Momma Zott – I've actually never met Momma Zott– mother to current Lake Orion stud wide receiver Zach Zott and former Dragons all-state girls hoopster Courtney Zott (Lake Orion 2009 – at MSU but not playing ball), however, she makes this list for two main reasons: 1. She's raised two unbelievably talented and high-quality kids in Zach and Courtney, possibly the most athletically prolific brother-sister combo to come out of the county in the last five years at least. 2. Considering the fact that in my other life as a true-crime author/investigative journalist, Momma Zott slides into the fold simply because she is the niece of Burney's all-time favorite real life gangster, Ronald "Hollywood Ronnie" Morelli   
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Burney's Prep Football Rankings - All Sorted Out Up Top

OC Top 10 - Week 8
1 FH Harrison (8-0) – Earlier in the season Coach Herrington told me that he thought this was his best team since 2001. Frankly, I doubted his assessment. NOT ANYMORE!!  ALL HAIL THE NEW KINGS OF THE OC!!!!
2 Birmingham Brother Rice (5-3) – Jimmy Pickens and Loran Jaddou are the best tandem of safeties in the state bar none!!! Burney sez….TAKE IT 2 THE BANK!!!
3 OL St. Mary's (7-1) – The Eaglets renowned "Nasty Boyz" defense is, well…..NASTY!!! ROLL CALL: James "Doomsday" Ross, Cortez "The Terminator" Riley, Marcus "The Sack Man" Gleaves, Darrell "Dr. Fresh" Freeman, Corey "Pretty Boy Floyd" Lucas, etc….
4 (tie) Lake Orion (7-1) – Burney has faith that Dragons head coach Chris Bell WILL right the ship this week and get his squad back in proper shape for its annual regular-season finale against the Clarkston Wolfpack
4 (tie) Novi Detroit Catholic Central (6-2) – I have to say I did not see this coming at all…Now, Lets go Shamrocks, Burney's got faith in u guys so get back out there and start smashing some heads again and playing CC football!
5 (tie) Clarkston (7-1) – The Wolves are pure grit this year! Junior LB Zach Collins is a BEAST.  
5 (tie) Birmingham Detroit Country Day (7-0) – A perfect season is virtually guaranteed with the Yellowjackets taking on winless Flint Northwestern this weekend…NEXT STOP; FORD FIELD!
6 Farmington (7-1) – Senior QB Matt Craven showed what a superior competitors he was this past Friday night when he came back from an injury to lead a very productive Falcons final drive against Clarkston in OAA crossover action that unfortunately fell short. One of Craven's passes on the final drive went right through a player's hand inside the 10-yard line. If that play would have converted, Burney says Craven and the Falcons would have taken it into the HOUSE for 6 and the win
7 WL Central (7-1) – Vikings running back Chris Koziara is as clutch as they come and quarterback Zach Leimbach is starting to play with the swagger that all great field generals exhibit
8 (tie) RH Adams (6-2) - Annese x 2 = LOTS and LOTS of TDs for "Uncle Tony" Partrito and the Highlanders...ME LIKEY!

8 (tie) MH Madison (7-1) – Versatile , dynamic, elusive, powerful, speedy, resilient, passionate, fearless, gutty…..the adjectives and superlatives are practically endless when you start taking about head coach Drake Wilkins and the Eagles… my boy Drake the rapper says, this is all FAR FROM OVER and expect to see Madison doing some damage in the playoffs in a few weeks 
9 Hazel Park (7-1) – Todd De Pew is THE MAN…enough said!
10 (tie) Berkley (7-1) – I have to believe if star RB Terrell Porter would have played the entire game in Week 8 against Hazel Park, the Bears would still be undefeated right now
10 (tie) AH Avondale (6-2) – The pass-catch combo of the Yellow Jackets Mitch Robinson and Ray Tillman reminds Burney of a modern day Drew Stanton and Agim Shabaj of early-2000s FH Harrison fame. Starting tailback Michael Johnson looked more like Chris Johnson against Lahser last Friday night, rushing for over 200 yards
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Instant Feedback - Mitchapalooza

Top 10 Prep Gridiron Performances from Friday Night
1 Mitch Kozlowski (WR MH Lamphere) – went all MITCH KOZLOWSKI for 211 yards receiving and four long TDs from his boy Ryan Horvath in leading the Rams to its third straight win
2 Mitch Robinson (QB AH Avondale) – went all MITCH ROBINSON by throwing for 250 yards and scoring six TDs in the 'Jackets sixth straight win
3 Lucas Blankenship (K Troy) – Can you say clutch? Blakenship cemented his status as the best kicker in the county by booting a game-winning field goal in double OT for the Colts against Southfield-Lathrup and with it allowing Coach Griff and TEAM HORSE to remain in the hunt for the playoffs.
4 Darren Lumpkin (RB Oxford) – Lumpkin busts out for 107 yards and a whopping five TDs in leading the Wildcats to their second victory of the year
5 Rylan Probst (RB WL Western) – Just another day at the office for Probst, who churned out another 300-yard game to go along with five rushing scores in the Warriors impressive win over Milford
6 Zach Collins (LB Clarkston) – Spearheaded a stout Wolfpack 'D' in a narrow 7-6 road win at previously-undefeated Farmington and proved to Burney once and for all that he is the best junior linebacker in the county not named James Ross
7 Todd Depew (RB Hazel Park) – Broke off a 57-yard TD scamper that won the game for the Vikings in the fourth quarter of their 35-32 road victory over Berkley.  Depew rushed for 103 yards total on the night. Superstar running backs are coming out of the woodwork at an epic rate for coach Guthrie. These guys are all just so good
8 Phil Brown (QB West Bloomfield) – Brown threw a trio of touchdown strikes in THE WB's third win in four games, a 28-21 nailbiter over Stoney Creek.  It makes Burney happy that the Lakers are getting things together late in the season and starting to come together under coach Ron Bellamy's new regime
9 Anthony Garland (RB Ferndale) – Garland could easily be the most underrated running back in the state….yeah I said it. The Eagles "G-Man" was at it again on Fri helping Ferndale keep its playoff hopes alive by breaking out for 220 yards and three TD's in a 28-21 defeat of Birmingham Seaholm
10 Phil Annese (WR/CB RH Adams) – scored two TDs on offense and snared a big pick on defense in the Highlanders beatdown of "little brother" Rochester. Have no fear Falcons, you guys can get still get into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade with a win next week and I think it's a done deal!!
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh, Very Young

It's never too early to start talking hoops, so here are a few names of underclassmen that you should expect to make a name for themselves on the varsity hardwood this winter.
Khalil Malone (Waterford Mott) – a sophomore point guard set to take over floor general duties from departed all-conference stud John Schaefer in 2011. Malone is as hardnosed as they come for a 15-year old and is a superior "drive and dish" specialist and a master of sneaking his way into the lane for easy buckets. He will team with junior Chris Dewberry to form one of the better backcourt tandems in the county
Maury Diane (Birmingham DCD) – People are saying this 6-3 and growing wing player could be the best freshman to come through the doors at Country Day since current NBA'er Shane Battier, over fifteen years ago. Diane is a pure scorer with serious athleticism and possess a very high "on-court IQ" for such a young age.
Edmond Sumner (Birmingham DCD) – Another blue chip ninth-grader coming into the fold for the Yellowjackets this upcoming season. He will no doubt team with Diane to lead the illustrious Country Day hoop program into the new decade.
Deshawn "D.J." Stevens (AH Oakland Christian) – This kid no doubt has the genes for prep greatness and judging by the way he performed this summer on the AAU circuit, he could wind up eclipsing what his mother – two-time all-state guard Laurie Ales, who spearheaded the Lancers to a 1992 state title – did on the hardwood in her day. According to some experts, Stevens is just as good as Diane and Sumner, despite the fact that he is going to a less-prestigious high school hoop power
Some fresh-faced football players to watch for next fall
Freshman RB's who will be super sophs in 2011
Brian Walker (Brother Rice)
Lorenzo Collins (FH Harrison)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On The Wings of Greatness

The Farmington Hills Harrison football team is celebrating its 40th anniversary this fall and the Hawks are doing it in style, out of the gate to a perfect 7-0 start. Head coach John Herrington, a true legend of the state's coaching fraternity, built the Hawks from the ground up, taking the team from its first season in 1970 and leading them into the new millennium as one of Midwest America's genuine prep "glamour" programs. In a truly amazing accomplishment, Herrington's 12 state championships are the most by one coach in state history. He won five straight state crowns between 1997 and 2002 and a whopping 81 percent of the games he has coached in the 40 years he has been on the sidelines in Green and Yellow.
On Saturday at halftime of Harrison's highly-anticipated OAA crossover clash with Lake Orion, the Hawks will cap their 40 year anniversary by having a commemorative ceremony and retiring only the fourth jersey number in school history – Ricky Bryant's No. 1 jersey.  Bryant was a member of two state championship squads playing under Herrington before going onto a college career at Ohio State and Hofstra and a pro career with the New England Patriots, where a won a Super Bowl ring. The other three Hawks gridiron greats to have the honor bestowed upon them have been Mill "The Thrill" Coleman (Michigan State/Chicago Bears), John Miller (starting safety on the '87 Rose Bowl champ MSU Spartans) and Drew Stanton (Michigan State/Detroit Lions).
Since we are on the subject of Harrison football phenoms, here is the a list of some of my personal all-time favorite gridiron gods spawning from the fantastic Herrington coaching tree:
Mill "The Thrill" Coleman
Drew Stanton
John Miller
Bryan Wauldron
Agim Shabaj
Ricky Bryant
Kevin Bryant
Nick Williams
The Granger Bros – Roy and Ray
The Woods Bros – Kevin and Marcus
Chris Roberson
Winston Coffee
Terrill Mayberry
Norman Shuford
Bruce Horner
Mark Dell
The Bambenek Bros – Charlie and Kevin
Jared Hopkins
Craig Sacha
The Pesci Bros – Dave and Joe
Charles Stewart
David Blackmer

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Five For Fighting - I Need Another Rice-CC Fix

In honor of the recent Birmingham Brother Rice- Novi Detroit CC football classic on Sunday afternoon - a colossal upset by the Warriors -, I thought I would breakdown my all-time favorite athletes from both schools.  Alright, let's take a look:
Burney's All-Time Fav Brother Rice Athletes
1 Mike Lodish – Could be the most successful former prep football player to ever come out of the state of Michigan, going to an NFL-record SIX Super Bowls and winning a pair of rings as a longtime stalwart on the offensive line for the Bills and Broncos
2 B.J. Armstrong – All-American point guard in Big Ten at Iowa before going on to have a very good pro career in the NBA, winning three titles with the Chicago Bulls in the early-1990s. As a high school senior in 1985, Armstrong guided the Warriors hoop squad to the Class A final four (losing to Detroit Southwestern in the semi-finals)
3 Brian Brennan – The prototypical "possession receiver" in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns who was also an all-state hoopster playing for the Warriors in high school as a point guard
4 Bob Kula – the definition of a "Mad Dog" defensive lineman who played in the NFL with the Seahawks and was a starter on the 1987 MSU Spartans that won a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl
5 Kevonte Martin-Manley – one of the best two-sport studs in the illustrious athletic history of the school, killing opponents as a prolific wide out on the gridiron and as a superior high-scoring hardwood assasin
Burney's All-Time Favorite CC Athletes
1 Frank Tanana – takes top spot on the list for the sole reason that he pitched a gem of a shutout in 1987, clinching his hometown Detroit Tigers an MLB Central Division crown on the final game of the season. Tanana had a career in the Majors that spanned three decades and was an all-state basketball player for the Shamrocks in his days as a prepster as well. Gets added points for being able to stay in the Show for 20 years after losing his fastball midway through his career and re-inventing himself as a crafty and reliable "junkball" hurler
2 Mark Messner – Super-talented defensive lineman for the 'Rocks, UofM Wolverines and in his career in the NFL and one of the most heavily-recruited football players to ever come out of CC
3 Chris Sabo – Outstanding hitter and fielder as an MLB third baseman, winning a National League Rookie of the Year Award and helping lead the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series championship in 1990
4 John McIntyre – Expert 3-point marksman for the Shamrocks on the high school hardwood who then continued his long distance bombing at the college level for the high-flying and highly-touted Missouri Tigers of the late-1980s
5 Niko Palazeti – A Larry Csonka-clone at running back for the CC'ers, rumbling, bumbling and stumbling his way to a thunderous senior campaign in '09 and a Shamrocks state title
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Burney's Prep Football Rankings - Dragons Den

OC Top 10 – Week 8
1 Lake Orion (7-0) – Dragons finally wrestle sole possession of the No. 1 ranking in the county from the feisty hands of the CC Shamrocks! Your reward? Now get ready to defend your title against a very dangerous bunch of Farmington Hills Harrison Hawks this week on the road.
2 Novi Detroit Catholic Central (6-1) – The loss the CC'ers took to Rice on Sunday could wind up being the best thing that could have ever happened to the Shamrocks. That performance against the Warriors told Burney that the Blue and White were getting a tad complacent in their dominance. Can u say wake up call?
3 (tie) FH Harrison (7-0) – The Vento Brothers and the Hawks team as a whole seem to be getting better every week. This is a very good sign for coach Herrington and the Harrison faithful who are trying to make it back to Ford Field for the first time in four years.
3 (tie) Farmington (7-0) – Note to Falcons: PLEASE, PLEASE don't look past Clarkston this week, anticipating an undefeated showdown between yourselves and Harrison: it won't happen unless you bring your 'A' game against the Wolfpack
4 OL St. Mary's (6-1) – What did Burney tell you guys about the Eaglets bouncing back big time in Week 7 after a downer of an outing against Rice? Lesson to be learned from all of this: ALWAYS LISTEN TO BURNEY!
5 (tie) Clarkston (6-1) – Plying his trade in the shadows of OC great/C-Town hoop coach Dan Fife, Wolves head football coach Kurt Richardson doesn't always get the credit he deserves. Well, Burney is about to give it to him – There is no doubt in my mind that coach KRich is the most underrated sideline general in the Metro Detroit area!! TAKE IT 2 THE BANK!
5 (tie) Birmingham Brother Rice (4-3) – Warriors are playing so well right now, that if they can sustain it, we could be talking about the sixth time in 11 years the Rice gridiron gang is playing in the state finals come November
6 Birmingham Detroit Country Day (6-0) – 'Jackets slide in the polls due to no fault of their own: JUST A LOT MORE REALLY GOOD PREP FOOTBALL SQUADS THAN PREVIOULY ANTICIPATED
7 Walled Lake Central (6-1) – You can't stop Vikings junior quarterback Zach Leimbach, you can only hope to contain him!!!!
8 MH Madison (6-1) – Coach Drake Wilkins, Valdez Showers, Danny Larkins, Devonte Snyder and the rest of the Eagles flock put the 'E' in EXPLOSIVE!
9 Berkley (7-0) – In case anyone was wondering, the Bears Terrell Porter just scored another touchdown on the Seaholm defense….lol
10 (tie) Rochester (5-2) – Falcons senior split end "Bullet Billy" Klotz is one of the best deep threats in the entire OAA….and that's saying a lot!
10 (tie) Hazel Park (6-1) – I get goose bumps just thinking about this Friday night's showdown between the Vikings and the Berkley Bears for the OAA Blue crown

10 (tie) AH Avondale - For those of you who don't know, Yellow Jackets senior WR/KR/DB Tony Harris carries the nickname "The Truth"....its fitting 'cause this kid has a game that tells absolutly no lies!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Still Alive

Demoralized from a three-game losing streak in the middle of its schedule, the Madison Heights Lamphere football team was on the ropes, looking about to hit the canvas face first. Like a resilient prize fighter, the Rams have stormed back from the brink of extinction and have now won two straight ballgames in resounding fashion. Recording its second consecutive shutout, Lamphere gutted out a 7-0 win over Marysville on Friday night to once again keep its postseason hopes from flat-lining.
Kicking off the season 2-0, the Rams dropped three games in a row, capped by getting punched in the mouth by crosstown-foe Madison Heights Madison three weeks ago and falling to 2-3. Following Friday's victory and a 37-0 mauling of Mount Clemens last week, Lamphere is 4-3 and still holds a puncher's chance to win out and qualify for the playoffs for the third straight year. It had been 30 years since a Lamphere squad came up with back-to-back shutouts wins.
A 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter by goal-line back Jackson Lewis, the team's captain and starting middle linebacker, proved the difference in the low-scoring affair. On the defensive side of the ball, he picked up a game-high 14 tackles. During the winter, Lewis is an all-state wrestler and is being recruited by colleges for both sports.
Since taking over the Rams program in 2004, head coach Jason Charron, a former starting quarterback at Wayne State, has yet to have a losing season. The way his team is playing for him currently should give him confidence that this year won't be his first. For their next game, Charron and the Rams will face Warren Woods Tower on their home field.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let's Break It Down - Royal Oak Shrine

Here's a quick primer on Royal Oak Shrine's football team. The Knights are set to go into their grudge match with league rival Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes this Saturday. Now, let's take a look at coach Goddard's gridiron delights

Royal Oak Shrine

Head Coach - John Goddard - 17th season guiding the Knights

No. 1 asst - Mike McCollum (acted as head coach in Goddard's stead last week due to health issues in the team's 43-6 win against MC Cardinal Mooney)

Overall Record - 5-1

CHSL Record - 4-0

2009 Record - 6-4 (Lost in 1st rd of state playoffs by a td to Detroit Loyola)

Branch Kampe – SR- QB/DB
35 of 61 – 619 yds- 9 tds
Avg’s- 103 yrds/game

Carries – 59 for 454 yds
catches- 8 for 110yds, 2 tds, 13.7yds/catch
Avg’s- 7.7 per carry, 76 per game
Tds- 8

Bertram Marks – SR- WR
Catches – 17 for 291yds, 5 tds, 17.1 yds/catch

Blake Washington - Sr Wr

Catches - 8 for 110 yards, 2 tds, 13.7 yds/catch

Jack Wangler – Soph - WR
Catches – 9 for 141yds, 3 tds, 15.6 yds/catch

Raymond Brown - JR- R/DL
Carries- 55 for 409 yds
Avg’s- 7.4 yds/carry – 68 yds /game
Td’s- 5

Colin Kelly – JR – RB/LB
Carries- 30 for 302 yds
Avg’s- 10.06 carry, 51 per game
Td’s- 6

Solo- 14
Assisted- 48

Thanks to RO Shrine asst. coach Gardner for making these stats available

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Four Times a Man

Back in 1978 pop music and R&B legend Lionel Ritchie had a hit ballad called "Three Times a Lady." Well, here in Oakland County these days we have ourselves "Four Times a Man" in hoops coaching legend Bill Norton. This past weekend, Norton, whose legendary prep coaching career in the county spanned five decades (1964-2005), was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame, giving him a total of four hall of fame enshrinements for his mantelpiece.
Last fall, Norton was inducted into the Birmingham Brother Rice Sports Hall of Fame. Previously, he was elected to the Michigan Catholic High School League Hall of Fame and the University of Detroit-Jesuit Athletic Hall of Fame.
Norton arrived on the county cage scene in 1964 as head coach of the Brother Rice varsity hoops squad. Between 1964 and 1981, he led the Warriors to one Class A state title (1975) and advanced them into another state championship game - in 1977, losing in OT to none other than Magic Johnson and his Lansing Everett team.
In 1981, he left briefly to take an assistant coaching job at Michigan State. A year later in the fall of 1982, he returned to Rice and headed the program for another 13 years until stepping down in 1996. His career at Rice represents the glory era of Warriors basketball. In a combined 21 years coaching at the school, Norton compiled a 328-148 overall record, including the '75 state championship, a dozen district titles, six regionals, and three CHSL crowns.
Upon leaving Rice, Norton continued his successful ways across town at Birmingham Groves, putting together a 119-63 overall record guiding the Falcons to three league titles and two district titles in nine years (1996-2005) at the helm.
The famous basketball coach finds himself in the UofD Hall for a different athletic endeavor of his. As a college gridiron gladiator, Norton was a member of the 1962 Titans football team.
Throughout his tenure on the sidelines, Norton has received the opportunity to coach some pretty unbelievable talent
Here are some of the better players he molded as youngsters:
B.J. Armstrong
Tim Andree
Kevin Smith
Brian Brennan
John Shasky
David Washington
Paul Grant

Giordan Watson
Paul Joskish

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Gang's All Here

There are quite a few high quality receiving units on the footbal field this season in Oakland County. Here are some of my favorites:
OL St. Mary's - Allen Robinson, Thomas Sellers, Keith Stonestreet (KS is the most underrated No. 2 wideout in the area)
Lake Orion - Zach Zott, Danny Ney, Cole Schaenzer, K.J. Ester (most versatile)
AH Avondale - Ray Tillman, Tony Harris, Ryan Brancheau, Taylor Drabek (TE)  - most explosive part a
FH Harrison - Aaron Burbridge, Jake Vento, Garius Coleman, Devin Funchess (TE) - most explosve part b
MH Madison - Danny Larkins, Jared Eason, Tyree Monroe, Devonte Snyder (TE) - most explosive part c
Farmington - Jason Wilson, Dae'von Scarber, Kyle Humphrey - most explosve part d
Birmingham DCD - Kenny Knight (when "Extra Crispy" Knight is on the field he is a one-man receiving corps)
RO Shrine - Bertram Marks, Blake Washington, Jack Wangler, Jared Wangler
MH Lamphere - Mitch Kozlowski, Jerry Conner, Mike Middleton (TE) - for some reason this group seems to be being under utilized this fall
Brother Rice - Devin Church, Nick Dunn, Matt Ogren (developing super fast in replacing all-state tandem of Martin-Manley and Salvidar-Garcia)

Birmingham Seaholm - Shawn Conway, Chris Bahr, Kai Czajka (started fast, leveling out due to injuries and other things)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Burney's Prep Football Rankings - Final Quarter

OC Top 10 - Week 7
1 (tie)    Novi Detroit CC – I said a few weeks back that the 2010 Shamrocks are almost as good as last season and that was saying a lot. Well, now I'm going to say a lot more. The 2010 Shamrocks ARE BETTER than the state champion 09'ers!!!! Wow, I can't believe I just did that.
1 (tie)    Lake Orion – Burney loves the development of WR Cole Schaenzer this season and the absolute BREAK OUT campaign being had by fellow Dragons wide out, Zach Zott!!!
2 (tie)    FH Harrison – The Hawks will be tested this week when they face RH Adams. If QB Tommy Vento can handle the tough pressure and constant harassment Coach Partrito's squads always bring, Harrison should prevail.  But it won't be easy, that's for sure.
2 (tie)    Farmington – Connor Mohr is THE MAN!
3 OL St. Mary's – Lackluster outing against Brother Rice on Saturday was disappointing however Burney has faith in his boyz in the Black and Red and know they will bounce back with authority
4 RH Adams – The Highlanders offense is starting to hit its stride and that's good news because you know that defense will always be razor sharp. Jordan Gowman is a flat out STUD, as are both ANNESSE BROS and Andrew "HAMMERTIME" Hammett! Senior lineman Spencer Cairo is one of the most overlooked defensive lineman in the area. He is just SO ROCK SOLID, sometimes it's taken for granted
5 Birmingham DCD – The week off should serve Coach MacLean and the 'Jackets well….fresh legs for Harris, Bailey, Hill, Brown, Knight, Woodland, Elliott and co = VERY SCARY
6 Clarkston – My main men, Ty Foltz, Steve Carpenter, Nick McInnally, Justin Baetz, Matt Dellinger, Zach Collins and the rest of the Wolf Pack 'D' are straight monsters on the field. As long as the offense keeps progressing at the rate it currently is, another long playoff run could very well be in store for Coach Richardson and the gang later this month and beyond.
7 MH Madison – You can't stop the passing combination of Madison QB Tony Lowry and WR's Danny Larkins and Jared Eason, you can only hope to contain them!!! Since you can't stop RBs Valdez Showers and Denzel Manning either, i would say things are pretty good in Eaglesland right now.
8 (tie)    Walled Lake Central – Up front and in the trenches (where they like it, mind you), twin HOSSES Bryan Bell and Mike Strehl don't always get the pub they deserve but they are the reason the Central Vikes have had such a vicious rushing attack these past two seasons.
8 (tie)    Walled Lake Western – QB Connor Ruby is running a tight ship with a methodical, grind-it-out offense for the Warriors and has been nothing short of super in replacing graduated all-county gunslinger Sam Welch
9 (tie)    Berkley – Bears senior all-state running back Terrell Porter reminds me of a prep version of former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL all-pro, Eddie George: big, tall, fast, aggressive,  hard to bring down, always comes to play in big games
9 (tie)    Hazel Park – I REALLY, REALLY like this Vikings team – pure grit, heart and flawless execution!
10 (tie) Rochester – Falcons were playing with house money last week and they've played so well this year they can afford to have taken the loss to Clarkston. The fact that they played so well is ultra-encouraging and a sign that this Rochester team is FOR REAL!Coach Vernon and crew must come to play against WB on FRi though cause the Lakers could bite them if they dont.
10 (tie) AH Avondale – Most offensively explosive non-D1 team in the area…..PURE & SIMPLE (Madison could give the Yellow Jackets a run for their money in this department since they have a better rushing attack)
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Mid-Season Player Report - Part 3

1              Valdez Showers (MH Madison)
2              Andrew Erickson (CC)
3              Jason Wilson/Dae'von Scarber (Farmington)
4 (tie)    Ramon Alexander (WL Central)
4 (tie)    Mario Burkett/Debrian Lewis (Pontiac)
5              Troy Woodland (DCD)
1              Jimmy Pickens (Brother Rice)
2              TY Foltz (Clarkston)
3 (tie)    Jake Vento (FH Harrison)
3 (tie)    Loran Jadou (Brother Rice)
4              Alex Fine (Lake Orion)
5              Cody Brotherton (Holly)
1              Alex Barta (Clarkston)
2              Luke Blankenship (Troy)
3              Justin D'agostino (CC)
4              Nick Reed (Rochester)
5 (tie)    Nathan Parry (OL St. Mary's)
5 (tie)    Adam Gorski (Brother Rice)
5 (tie)    Cameron Casey (RH Adams)
1              Bryan Bell (OL-WL Central)
2              The Annesse Bros. (WR/CB/QB – RH Adams)
3              Lee Bailey (RB/CB - DCD)
4              Mitch Kozlowski (WR/CB – MH Lamphere)
5 (tie)    Connor Reznick (LB – WL Central)
5 (tie)    Johnny Williams (QB – Holly)