Blogs > Burney's Bytes

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Training Camp Report - New Era

It's a whole new day at Oak Park High School.
With the hiring of new head coach Greg Carter, one of the most successful prep sideline generals in the whole state, the Knights football team is poised to become a major player in the OAA……..And soon. Possibly as soon as Carter's first year on the job this fall.
"We're all ready to get this thing moving in the right direction," said Carter, on a break from the first day of practice on Monday. "A program like this is a diamond in the rough. We get to play in one of the best conferences in the state and we get to compete week-in and week-out against some of the best coaching staffs in the state. Those were two pretty big motivating factors for me wanting to come here and start to rebuild things."
Close to two dozen transfers accompanied Carter to Oak Park for the 2011 season, most of them following him from Inkster, where he took the Vikings to three state championship games in four years during the late 2000s. When he was at the now-closed Detroit St. Martin De Porres, a one-time Catholic League powerhouse prior to closing in 2004, Carter won four state titles in 10 years at the helm.  
The task of reclamation won't be an easy one for him at Oak Park.
The Knights went 2-7 last season and have not made the playoffs since 2005. The last time the program finished above the .500 mark was four years ago. In the last 13 years, the Knights have only qualified for the postseason on four separate occasions.
The familiarity Carter and a majority of his coaching staff have with the revamped Oak Park roster will bode well for immediate and substantial improvement. It certainly doesn't hurt that a few of the squad's transfers are D1 recruits either.
Two of the best of the newly Knighted are running back Denzel Wright and two-way lineman Marquise Wallace, both intriguing college prospects who started at Inkster last year as juniors. Wallace was a three-year starter with the Vikings, having started on the offensive line on back-to-back Inkster team's that advanced into the state finals when he was a freshman and sophomore, respectively. Wright is a sly and fleet-footed runner who can go up the middle in between the tackles and beat people in the open field with his speed.
Under center for Carter in 2011 will be senior Chris Wesley, his starter last season at Inkster. Backup signal caller Nate Simms, a dependable junior, could also see snaps through the course of the campaign.
The team's top receivers are Bryan Williams and Marsean Hoults, another pair of Inkster transfers. Williams, a big and fast deep threat, might wind up being one of the best juniors in the area, while Hoults is a dynamite No. 2 guy who can go across the middle and stretch the field with his wheels.
James Gault, a transplant from across county at Madison Heights Madison, is set to be a central cog in the Oak Park game plan this year as well.  A quick and versatile option for Carter on offense and defense, Gault will see time at running back, swingback, cornerback and wide receiver. He is expected to return kicks and punts, too.
Middle Linebacker Chris White will captain the defense for the Knights, getting help from Wallace in the trenches and Kevin Lewis (SS), Dejuan Darling (CB/FS) and Malik Washington (CB) in the secondary.
"We're hoping to eliminate some of the learning curve in terms of acclimating to our system by bringing in a lot of our old kids and I think it's going well so far," Carter said.  "The team is gelling and we look good so far. I know everybody's raring to go and ready to get the season kicked off in a few weeks and I know we'll be there to give it all we got as a team when that day comes. We're going to bring pride back to Oak Park football."
Oak Park opens the season when it hosts Detroit Loyola on August 26.
Look for Oak Park to be play spoiler in the OAA White this fall and Carter to have the Knights sitting on top of the league standing in the next 2-to-3 years at the very least.


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