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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Training Camp Report - Brotherly Love

Traditionally, Birmingham Brother Rice fields one of the best varsity football teams in the state of Michigan, year-in and year-out. It's consistency at the highest level – like the sun rising in the morning or presents at Christmas time.  
2011 should bring more of the same, as the Warriors return playmakers on both sides of the ball from a squad that captured a Catholic League title last season.
"This team here this year has a lot of heart," said longtime Brother Rice head football coach Al Fracassa, the winningist prep sideline general in state history. "The guys from last season showed it when we battled back from a lousy start to win the league championship. I expect them to pass on that kind of mentality, that kind of passion, to the new guys in the lineup. If they do that, we're going to be alright."
In 2010, Fracassa's Warriors dropped three of their first four games, before roaring back to win five straight to close out the schedule and grabbing another CHSL crown for the school's already-overflowing trophy case.
Going into battle this fall, like many falls of the past, Fracassa will have Division I talent all over the field spearheading his team.
On offense, senior slotback Devin Church and senior lineman Dylan Anderson have both already committed to D1 programs, with Church committing to Northern Illinois late last week and Anderson committing to Central Michigan back in the spring. On defense, the Rice secondary is a big strength as is junior linebacker Johnny Reschke who is on a meteoric rise up the recruiting ladder and possibly the top prep defensive prospect in the state's Class of 2013.  
Church and Anderson will be the anchors to what is shaping up to be a dynamite Warriors rushing attack. When you add standout sophomore Brian Walker and juggernaut junior De Shun Brown into the mix with Church in the Rice backfield, the Warriors have arguably the best three-pronged run assault in the area.
Brown has been on varsity since he was a freshman. Walker had a monster season on the JV last year and is viewed as an almost surefire D1 recruit. Coming on like gangbusters late in the 2010 campaign, Church established himself as one of the most versatile offensive weapons in Metro Detroit, earning a half-dozen D1 college scholarship offers in the offseason.
If those three weren't enough, senior Andy Siroskey, is a going to be a threat as swingback, getting his share of carries and being used to catch the ball out of the backfield in many of the team's offensive sets.
Who will be doing the majority of the handing off to the Rice rushing contingent is still up in the air a week into training camp. With the departure of last season's starting quarterback Tyler Lendzion, senior Nick Rao, last year's backup and Cheyne Lacanaria, a junior who qb'd the JV in 2010, are battling it out for opening game signal-calling duties.   
Whichever young man ultimately wins the nod, he will have a behemoth O-Line watching his back during his first year under center. While Anderson is the linchpin of the unit that averages 6-4 270 across, he is hardly the only starter on the line that opposing teams need to scheme for. Junior Griffin Anderson, Dylan's little brother and seniors Alex Oles, Kyle Marsh and Bill Pepironi, are all returning starters in the trenches.
The teams' top receivers will be Church, Sirowskey, Brian Roney and Travis Ferguson, a major contributor in the defensive backfield last year. Joey Warner is a D1 prospect at tight end.
Rice's defensive line is big, athletic and aggressive as usual as is the squad's linebacking corps. That D-Line will be manned by Sergio Perkovic, Troy Lewis, Kyle Binde and Austin Echols. Lining up beside Reschke (6-3 240)at linebacker will be junior Luke Cherocchi, - baby brother of former Warrior linebacking greats Zach and Justin -, Mike Bouchard, Mark Doman and John Plaschke.
Despite losing a pair of all-state safeties from last year's team in Loran Jaddou (Northern Michigan) and Jimmy Pickens (Michigan State for baseball), the Warriors' secondary will still check in as one of the best defensive backfields in Oakland County when the season kicks off a two weeks.
The senior cornerback tandem of Eddie Kidd and James Hendrix both started as juniors last year and are as lockdown as they come on the ends. Defensive captain Cody Ellwanger, workhorse Jordan Rabbon and the crafty Ferguson, an all-league third baseman on the baseball diamond, will be the squad's top safeties.
Andrew Toth, who saw quite a bit of time last season as a sophomore, replaces Adam Gorski (Ohio State for soccer) as the team's No. 1 placekicker. R.J. Bayne returns to handle the Warriors' punting.
"I like our balance this year," Fracassa said. "Our defense is real fast and the offense has some genuine playmakers on it. The schedule is going to be tough, but I know my boys will be up to the test."
Under Coach Fracassa's guidance, Rice has qualified for the playoffs the last 13 years straight.  The Fracassa freight train departs from the station on August 26 when Rice travels to Eastern Michigan to faceoff with Detroit King in its opener.


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