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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Training Camp Report - Solid As Oak

Royal Oak Shrine has one of the best small school football programs in the state of Michigan.
As a result, even though the Knights lost some of their best players off last year's playoff squad, they should still be a top contender in the Catholic League in 2011.
Shrine carries 13 seniors on its team this season, most of whom are three-year varsity letter-winners, so leadership won't be a problem.
John Goddard, the Knights' 19th year head coach, has a lot of confidence in his senior class.
"The senior leadership with this group is through the roof," he said. "That kind of experience gives me a great deal of faith. These guys want to go out with a bang. I think we have the chance to have another pretty good season."
The Knights haven't missed the postseason in nine years and over the last 16 campaigns have only finished below the .500 mark twice. Goddard and his team are seeking their first district and league title since 2008.
With last year's all-state starting signal caller, Branch Kampe, gone, off to play his college ball down on the Bayou at LSU, Shrine's quarterback job belongs to junior Connor Francek, who as a sophomore last fall, stepped in for an injured Kampe and led the Knights to a win in the first round of the playoffs.
There's no questioning Francek's ability in the clutch. Besides not allowing the Knights football team to miss a beat in the postseason last year, he was the school's ace pitcher on its district title-winning baseball squad in the spring.
Senior Harry Cooney will be Shrine's premiere ball-carrier this fall, as last season's starting running back Raymond Brown moves to the tight end spot. Catching the ball this year for the Knights will be stud transfer Tevin Washington (MH Madison) and the Wangler brothers, Jack and Jared, sons of Shrine football legend John Wangler, a former star quarterback at the University of Michigan, tapped to help play-calling for the pending campaign. Jack is a junior and Jared a sophomore and both have all the right moves on the field of battle. Washington is high-impact all the way and will help cushion the blow of losing all-league wide outs Betram Marks and Blake Washington to graduation.

In addition to Brown, who will still sometimes see touches in the backfield, senior Jake Luddy is also expected to be a featured tight end in the team's offensive sets.
Up front on the line, Shrine will be solid in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Kenny Miller, Brian Mischelle, Mike Gilmore and Spencer Ray all saw time last fall and are set to be the Knights' main lineman.
Collin Kelly, Shrine's senior captain on defense, highlights a linebacker brigade that will possibly the best in the league. Kelly, a ferocious ballhawk from sideline-to-sideline, will be used as the squad's primary fullback on offense, too, clearing the way for Cooney, Brown and company toting the rock. Brown and Mischelle will line up besides Kelly at linebacker, making life miserable for all opposing rushers they encounter.
The Wangler boys, Cooney and Francek will be the team's starting defensive backfield.
The team's approach to its preseason workouts has impressed Goddard, owner of over 200 career wins on the high school sidelines.
"I'm very pleased with the work ethic this group as displayed this entire summer," he said. "They all want to be here, sweating it out and pushing each other every step of the way. A lot of these guys show up on days off as well, which is a very encouraging sign and a true example setter for the entire program. The seeds of success have been planted and we're excited to see them grow through the upcoming season."


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