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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Burney's Girls Hoops Preview

OC Top 20 Players
1 Aerial Powers (SR G Birmingham DCD) - Best girls hoopster I've seen in a decade
2 Jasmine Harris (SR G North Farmington) - Just so versatile its scary!
3 Sinclair Russell (SR C Troy Athens) - Very high upside with her increasing ability to go outside the paint
4 Hannah Little (SR C AH Avondale) - Most refined post game in the area
5 (tie) Eman Hubbard (SR C FH Harrison) - Will be a beast in the middle when she returns from injury in January
5 (tie) Gabby Yurik (SR G Stoney Creek) - SO, SO, SO MONEY!!!!! 'Nuff said!!!
6 Amber Deane (SR G Birmingham DCD) - Dynamic with a capital 'D'
7 Karin Moss (SR G Troy) - Top-notch floor general with a combo of nastiness and flash to her game
8 Sydni Davis (JR G West Bloomfield) - Pure scorer, probably should be higher on this list
9 Michelle Hayes (SR G Southfield-Lathrup) - Sleeper floor general and future star taking over for Kyra Littlejohn
10 (tie) Tori Duffey (SR G/F Waterford Lakes) - Multi-faceted and fierce on the hardwood
10 (tie) Carlee Cottrell (SR G Waterford Lakes) - Has most textbook 'J' in the OC w/ leadership & heart in spades
11 Cherish Willis (SR G Farmington) - Should def be higher on this list, if she was at Lathrup she'd be D1
12 Sami Stormont (JR G Royal Oak) - Bulldog lead guard with a nose for the hoop w/few equals in the state
13 Allison Bicknell (SR G Wateford Kettering)
14  Ava Doetsch (JR G/F Waterford Lakes)
15  Lexie Robak (JR G Waterford Lakes)
16 Kasey Crockett (SR G/F Birmingham DCD)
17 Shannon Wilson (SO G BH Andover)
18 Marissa Secontine (SR F Lake Orion)
19 Jameca Jenkins (SR F/C Ferndale)
20 Delaney Kenney (JR G Clarkston)
OC Top 10 Teams
1 Birmingham DCD
2 Waterford Kettering
3 Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
4 Clarkston
5 AH Avondale
6 FH Harrison
7 Lake Orion
8 Southfield-Lathrup
9 Farmington
10 (tie) North Farmington
10 (tie) BH Andover

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Training Camp Report - Pleasantville Prowlers

Spawning from one of the state's great basketball families, it's no surprise that Rochester head coach John Pleasant has turned things around with the Falcons boys hoops program.
Last winter, in his fourth year on the bench, Pleasant led Rochester to its first league title in over a decade, capturing the OAA Blue Division championship.
No doubt's Pleasant's dad, Garth, a legend in small college coaching circles around the nation, is beaming with pride.
With his first banner already raised and the culture around the school's hardwood scene effectively altered, Pleasant and his 2012 squad are in search of an additional crown of a different variety.
Of course the Falcons want to repeat as Blue Division champs this season, but they also want to stake claim to the program's first district title since the 1980s.
"Taking home a district title, breaking that drought, has been the talk around this team since we started practice," Pleasant said. "That's what we're all striving for and I think we have the horses to put ourselves in position to get it done."
Heading the charge for the Rochester cage crew this year will be a pair of all-league studs in forward Taylor Perry and point guard Paris Pereira, just two of 10 returners for TEAM PLEASANTVILLE.
Signed with Western Michigan, Perry is an active and high-scoring wing with a much improved outside shot since breaking onto the area prep hoops landscape as a sophomore in 2010. Pereira is a four-year letter-winner and the consummate floor leader, running the Falcons' offense. He will also see some time off ball this winter, as the coaching staff wants to take advantage of the standout floor general's career 40 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Athletically-gifted transfer Manny Mendoza is set for a breakout campaign at one of the forward spots and returnees Kurt Apostol and Arben Camaj will patrol the post. Mendoza, a genuine jumping jack of a swingman, comes to the school district from South Bend, Indiana where his dad was a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Notre Dame football team under Charlie Weis. Apostol is a football player who brings gridiron tenacity to the hardwood and is a genuine rebounding machine and floor burn specialist, while Camaj, a 6-6 fast-improving center, had a huge summer working on his game and will do damage on the block this year.
Mike Klotz, a long and lanky 6-foot-2 off-guard was the squad's sixth-man last season and will fill that role again this season as well as seeing some spot starting minutes, too.
The rest of the Rochester bench unit will consist of senior Sean McCann and sophomores Jason Lee and Mike Murray.  Lee will back-up Pereira at the point for the second straight year and be one of the Falcons' best perimeter defenders. Murray is a spry wing with a high upside and McCann is the team's designated sharpshooter, replacing all-league pick Nick Bradley off last season's team, currently playing baseball at Western Michigan.
"We've got a solid rotation and some real tough kids ready to get at it," Pleasant said. "This is a veteran group with a lot of leadership so we're expecting a lot from them. Last year's team made a mark in the school's history books and this team wants to do the same thing."
Rochester starts the season with a matchup against small school Catholic League power Detroit Loyola at home on December 6.  Pleasant and his troops will have an immediate chance to show the Falcons are for real this year by following up their throwdown with Loyola by games against Southfield, a final four participant the past two seasons, and crosstown rival Rochester Adams, a squad that made a run into the Sweet 16 last March.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Training Camp Report - Dawn of A New Day

Straight from the out of nowhere department, the Walled Lake Western boys basketball team could easily wind up being one of the top teams in the area this season.
Known traditionally as a "football school," Western has never been a hoops power. Last year, the Warriors finished a dismal 5-16.
That's all about the change.
With the hiring of first-year head coach Ra' Redding Murray and an influx of some exciting new talent, Western looks poised to flip the script and start to shine on the hardwood – VERY SOON.
"I don't know what exactly is going to happen this season, but I'm telling everyone that will listen that Walled Lake Western basketball is going to be competitive year-in and year-out from this day forward, period, no question about it," said Murray, returning to the court for the 2011-2012 campaign after some time off following a successful tenure at Detroit Crockett. "We're going to be taken seriously and come to play every single game as long as I'm here as head coach. That's a promise I know I can keep."
A pair of high profile transfers in junior center Miroslav Jaksik and senior forward Aaron Prim will headline Murray's lineup this year and help jumpstart the resurrection project. Standing 6-foot-11 and possessing both solid footwork and a velvety soft touch, Jaksik is a potentially dominating inside-outside threat from Serbia by way of Canada, already getting looks from a number of Big 10 programs including Michigan State and Indiana. Coming over from Detroit Osborne, where he helped take his team to a district title last winter, Prim is 6-foot-7, long and athletic and will team with Jaksik to form quite the intimidating tandem in the post for the Warriors.
Another newcomer in the mix for Western this year is freshman shooting guard Jalin Gardner, one of the state's best ninth-graders and slated to start in the backcourt.
According to Murray, the squad's sleeper this season will be junior lead guard Korey Wade, a super-quick scorer who can create for his teammates as well as bomb away from long distance and played on the Warriors varsity as a sophomore.
Senior swingman Jamal Rhoades, another returning player for the Warriors from the 2010-2011 campaign, is penciled in to start at the small forward spot.
Western's reserve corps will be looked to by Murray and his coaching staff as a major contributing factor in the Warriors recipe for success and will go at least five deep.
Cam Vieaux, a star wide receiver on the school's football team this past fall that made a run into the Division 2 final four, William Gipson and Jarin Bryant, are all spirited and sprightly forwards set to backup Jaksik and Prim in the frontcourt.
JV call-ups Bryan Mantican (PG) and George Lawley (SG) will spell Wade and Garnder in the Western backcourt rotation.
During his last stint on the bench at Crockett back in the early 2000s, Murray was part of a massive Rockets' cage renaissance. As an assistant under current Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy, he won a state championship in 2001. Taking the reins from Murphy, when Murphy decided to take an assistant coaching job in the college ranks at Syracuse, Murray navigated Crockett back to the final four in 2003.
When he was in high school, Murray starred at Detroit Mumford in the late 1980s.
The Warriors open their schedule on December 6 against Novi Franklin Road Christian, followed by games against Farmington Hills Harrison and KLAA power Brighton, a possible foe in the conference championship game come March.
"We might take a little time to mesh as a unit, but I think we'll be alright as the season starts to progress," Murray said. "We'll rebound and defend well and the scoring distribution will eventually just naturally work itself out. I'm excited by the opportunity to change the image of basketball at Walled Lake Western and have the school's name associated with having a winning program. It will be a fun and energizing experience for me and everyone who buys in and becomes a part of it."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Five For Fighting - Clear & Present Danger

Five For Fighting – Top Performances in OL St. Mary's 45-7 Win over Mt. Pleasant in Saturday's State Finals
1 Spencer McInnis – The Eaglets' senior tailback busted up the Mt. Pleasant 'D' for 215 yards and 3 TDs…….Dude was getting busy like his name was ARIAN FOSTER!!!!!!
2 Dylan Zerki – This underrated stud at the inside linebacker spot led the swarming St. Mary's defense with a game-high 11 tackles
3 James Ross – Displaying his normal brand of viciousness sideline-to-sideline, the Eaglets' human tackling machine (aka third-year starting linebacker) collected 10 wrap-ups in the state championship game, giving him a rotund total of 36 tackles in his three appearances in the state finals. U CANNOT STOP, NOR CONTAIN "DOOMSDAY" ROSS!!!!!!
4 Jalen Watts-Jackson – The St. Mary's sophomore sensation snared a key interception in the second quarter that resulted in a Spencer McInnis 47-yard scoring scamper to put the Eaglets ahead 24-7
5 Grant Niemiec-Parker McInnis – Each picking up 96 yards and an electrifying touchdown run, this pair of first cousins flanked BIG BRO Spencer with flash, power and finesse in the runaway OLSM win

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Five For Fighting - Brothers In Arms

Five For Fighting – Top PRIMETIME PLAYERS in Brother Rice's win in Friday's state finals
1 Devin Church (RB) – The Warriors all-time single-season rusher danced his way to 244 yards and 3 TDs, sparkling like the diamond in the rough he truly is. Is it surprising that my man DC is the leader of Rice's PRIMETIME POSSEE backfield? I didn't think so.......
2 Mark Doman (LB) – Led the Rice "Electric Company" defense with 13 tackles and 2 sacks, sparking a complete domination of a very well-oiled Lowell offense
3 Eddie Kidd (DB) – This standout senior cornerback did his best Charles Woodson impression on Friday afternoon, picking off two passes in the win, both which thwarted seemingly momentum-building drives by Lowell all-state field general Gabe Dean and the Red Arrows
4 Dylan Anderson (OL) – The anchor of the Rice O-Line did one heck of a job clearing the path for Church's record-breaking day on the ground
5 Jason Alessi (K) – If Alessi doesn't bang home his 26-yard field goal in the third quarter, the Warriors could have been in for a whole different ball game down the stretch in their 24-14 victory. The word that comes to mind is CLUTCH!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Leader of The Pack

T. J. Lang is doing the Birmingham Brother Rice football program proud in the NFL as the starting left guard on the offensive line with the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
He has started all 11 games this season. During his rookie campaign, he became only the second rookie in Green Bay franchise history to start multiple games at the left guard spot, a very impressive accomplishment considering the illustrious Cheesehead tradition on the gridiron aka….cue deep voice guy from NFL Films… "the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field."
The Pack are currently undefeated and just served the hometown Detroit Lions a nice big piece of humble pie for Thanksgiving by roughing them up down at Ford Field on Thursday afternoon 27-15 in front of a national television audience. Lang and the O-Line provided All-Pro QB Aaron Rogers stellar protection all day long, allowing him to throw for a pair of touchdowns in the runaway victory.
Graduating from Rice in 2005, Lang played in college at Eastern Michigan – where he was a two-time All-MAC selection – and was drafted by the Pack in 2009 in the 4th round of the NFL Draft.  Back in his high school days with the Orange and Black, he was a team captain and played on both the offensive and defensive line. When he was a senior he stacked up 90 tackles and 9 sacks while leading Brother Rice to a Catholic League championship. As a junior, Lang collected 60 tackles and 7 sacks helping the Warriors make a run into the state finals before losing to Rochester Hills Adams.

Scary to say, but when its all said and done on his time in the trenches its possible that Lang could wind up having the best pro football career of anyone to ever come out of the notoriously prolific Rice program. All Burney can say about that is WOW!!!!! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Catholic League Party

2011 State Football Finals Primer
Birmingham Brother Rice v. Lowell (Friday 1:00 PM)
Last time Brother Rice was in the state championship game – 2005; beat Hudsonville 14-7
Warriors Fun Fact – Senior FACTOR BACK Devin Church is only 225 yards away from becoming the all-time single-season rushing leader in Rice history
Players to Watch(1)Brian Walker, this sophomore sensation in the Warriors backfield who flanks Church, has been steadily gaining momentum as the season has progressed and is really showing his merit as a Rice star of the future…..that future could be Friday. (2) Sergio Perkovic, the Warriors junior defensive lineman has been a tackling menace in the trenches the entire state tournament and will help the Rice defense contain Lowell's all-state signal caller Gabe Dean   
Novi Detroit Catholic Central v. Detroit Cass Tech (Saturday 1:00 PM)
Last time CC was in the state championship – 2009, beat Sterling Heights Stevenson 31-21
Shamrocks Fun Fact – CC won its first state title way back in 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House and the United States had yet to enter World War 2.
Players to Watch – The Shamrocks' entire secondary, as the talented unit will be facing a freshman quarterback in Cass Tech's Ja' Ru Campbel
Orchard Lake St. Mary's v. Mt. Pleasant (Saturday 7:30 PM)
Last time OLSM was in the state championship game – Last year when the Eaglets lost to East Grand Rapids 35-27
Eaglets Fun Fact – Both St. Mary's FACTOR BACKS Grant Niemiec and Spencer McInnis have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the ground running the football, while Eaglets standout linebackers James Ross and David Talley have both gone over the 100-tackle plateau.
Players to Watch Dylan Zerki, the third-cog in the IN YOUR FACE ALL THE TIME linebacking unit, has been killing the comp this state tourney at an equal level as his pair of more celebrated teammates like Ross and Talley.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Training Camp Report - Guts & Glory

Never blessed with the Blue Chip-laden squads of some of his contempoaries, John Hall-coached basketball teams at Rochester Adams have established a reputation for themselves as the definitive workhorse bunch, known for more than holding their own against more athletically gifted teams by out-grinding and out-smarting them with gritty precision.
A prime example of Hall's coaching prowess was his 2010-2011 team.
Last March, the Highlanders sent shockwaves through the area's prep hoops landscape by going on a magical romp through the state tournament, pulling a string of upsets on their way to advancing into the Sweet 16.
The bad news was Adams dropped that 2011 regional title tilt to eventual final four-participant Southfield.
The good news was that Hall's squad played tough against the D1-stacked Bluejays and was bringing back a significant portion of a roster that went 17-8 for the following season.
Well, that following season is NOW and the Highlanders are poised to challenge defending OAA White champ, Troy, for a league crown and will definitely be right in the thick of it again come March Madness, threatening to repeat as Class A district title winners.  
Hall, entering his 13th year on the bench, is optimistic looking forward to opening the upcoming season next month.
"I think things look pretty good for us," he said. "We play hard and we have some real valuable big-game experience that a lot of these guys got last year. The league race is going to be very competitive and I expect us to be there fighting it out at the end."
Like last season, Adams' cage crew is a nice mix of upper and lower classmen that will hurt the opposition with their depth and execution.
The team's top two players this year will be junior forward Zach Littleson and sophomore point guard Akemji Williams. Littleson is a rising-star on the wing that can score, shoot, and defend and has a high on-court IQ. He has an innate ability to find his way into the lane, exposing gaps in the defense to either get easy buckets for himself or his teammates.
Williams is a gutty fireplug floor general and one of Oakland County's best sophomores. His playmaking and pace-setting during Adams' tourney run last winter was crucial to the Highlanders' success.
Seniors James Berger and John Neidhart and junior Andrew McBride will most likely complete Hall's starting line-up. Berger is an ace 3-point bombardier who compliments Williams, a drive-and-dish specialist, nicely in the Highlanders' backcourt, while Neidhart and McBride are typical Adams grunts that can convert shots around the rim and will help Littleson anchor the ball club's frontcourt.
The Highlanders' reserve corps is set to be headed by guards Press Kampe, and Jacob Foor and forwards Jack Twitty, Ben Limb and Matt Sokol. Kampe is a sophomore sparkplug that will back-up Williams at the point and Foor, a senior, is a good perimeter shooter who will spell Berger at the two-guard spot.
Twitty and Limb are each juniors and Sokol, a sophomore, and will back-up McBride, Neidhart and Littleson at the forward positions.
The athletic pedigree on this roster is no doubt impressive.
Zach Littleson's older brother Jordan was a starting guard in the program a few years ago. Press Kampe's father is Oakland University Men's Basketball Coach Greg Kampe and his older brother is LSU football player Branch Kampe. McBride, Twitty and Sokol were all key members on the Adams' playoff football team this fall.
"This is an interesting rotation," Hall said. "We're a bit unorthodox, but we get the job done."
In over a dozen years on the sidelines Hall has won more than 150 games and taken the Highlanders to three of the program's four total district championships.
Adams tips off the 2011-2012 campaign on December 6 on the road at Lake Orion.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Training Camp Report - Fresh Princes

Don't let their angelic, young faces fool you.
The bulk of the Bloomfield Hills Lahser boys basketball team might be short on age, but they are fixing to be quite fierce and formidable on the hardwood this upcoming season.
The core of the 2011-2012 Knights cage crew played together last winter on a squad that was picked to be a cellar dweller in the OAA Blue, yet surprised a lot of people by closing out their league schedule with a respectable 7-7 record.
That experience combined with the fact that Lahser has possibly the best group of underclassmen in the entire area pegs TEAM BLACK & YELLOW as a possible genuine sleeper in the race for the new OAA Gold crown.
"We're hoping to make a big jump this year as a program," second-year Knights head coach Duane Graves said. "Even though we're still relatively young as a unit, we have quickness, athleticism and depth. That year of playing together that we have under our belts is really going to help, too."
Graves likes his team's chemistry.
"These guys really like being on the court with each other. There aren't many egos and they root for one another. Add that to the kind of talent we have on the roster, some real positive things could be on the horizon for us this year and the foreseeable near future."
The Knights' heart and soul for the second straight campaign will come in the form of sizzling sophomore stud Armand Cartwright, a bonafide playmaker and lead guard that can and will put a team on his back if need be.
Augmenting Cartwright in Lahser's sophomore Baby Baller Brigade will be big fellas Yante Maten (6-5) and Logan McDonald (6-5), a rugged and athletic tandem in the paint and Khalil Gracey, a smooth-stroking guard-forward combo, on the wing. Cartwright and Maten each started as freshman last season and are two of the top sophomores in the state.
Juniors Martez Jones and Andrew Gikas will be important cogs in the Knights' rotation as well. Jones, a returning starter, is a true scorer and defensive stopper at the two-guard spot. Gikas is a floor-burn specialist and an ultra-active banger in the post who will handle things below the rim, while Maten and McDonald handle things above it.
Lahser's senior leadership is set to be provided by Nate Cole, A.B. Allam, Mike Barr and Hunter Toomagian, all four filling the role as quintessential "glue guys." Cole was an all-league football player in the fall that is expected to compete for minutes at the small forward position after sitting out hoops season last year when he was a junior. Allam is a team captain and will be a reserve in the backcourt. Barr is a threat shooting the rock from the outside and Toomagian is an aggressive post player that will backup Maten, McDonald and Gikas in the frontcourt.
Another pair of juniors that are expected to contribute for the Knights this season is forward Kyle Riley, a varsity-letter winner as a sophomore who battled injuries last winter and is finally healthy, and guard Collin Seila, slated to spell Cartwright as the team's second-string floor general.
"This is going to be an interesting season because our biggest strength could also be our biggest weakness, which is always a fascinating phenomenon," Graves said. "I think we'll be okay in the end and have the type of year, no matter what our improvement level is, that we will be able to keep continuing to build on."
During his high school years, Graves starred at Lake Orion in the early 1990s.
The Knights will be fighting it out with fellow local prep squads Oxford, Bloomfield Hills Andover, Hazel Park, Birmingham Groves and Royal Oak for the OAA Gold crown.
Things will start up for Lahser on December 6 at home against Birmingham Seaholm.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Training Camp Report - Full of Hope

There's a feeling of unlimited promise that fills the air around the Troy boys basketball team these days.
Longtime Colts head coach Gary Fralick believes he might have the best squad he's ever had this winter.
"This year's team has a tremendous amount of opportunity in front of itself if we play up to our potential," he said. "We have a bunch of guys that have a genuine desire to make a mark on this program that will last for long after they leave. I think they have a real nice shot to do that."
Troy's 2011-2012 lineup is stacked. Headed by junior phenom James Young, a 6-foot-8 swingman/point forward, arguably the best player in the state regardless of grade, the Colts should contend for both district and regional championships.
Possessing the ability to play all five positions on the floor with natural fluidity and flair, he has an X-factor quality and killer instinct to his game that can't be taught. One of the nation's most coveted college recruits in the Class of 2013, Young will have his pick of the litter when it comes to his future at the next level as long as he keeps his grades in check, a problem that cost him the second semester of his freshman camapign, following an outstanding start to his prep career highlighted by dropping 25 against Clarkston in his first ever meeting with the powerhouse Wolfpack. As a junior last season, he averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game, leading Troy to its first league title in 16 years.
Flanking Young in the Colts' on-court assault this winter will be all-conference senior combo guard Evan Mahone and up-and-coming sophomore sensation Maceo Baston, Jr., a 6-foot-4 wing that has vastly improved since last winter and is starting to get serious looks from Division 1 programs following a productive summer on the showcase camp circuit.
Both Mahone and Baston come from sterling hoop pedigrees. Mahone's dad shared a high school backcourt with former NBA gunslinger Nick Van Exel and played in college at North Dakota State, while Baston's dad and namesake was a prep All-American out of Texas in the early-1990s that went on to lead the University of Michigan to a Big 10 crown in 1998 and have a lengthy career in the NBA.
Completing Troy's starting lineup and holding down the post for the Colts will be a pair of Sir-Grind-A-Lot seniors in power forward Jeff Holmes (6-4), a gritty banger on the blocks who averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds a game as a starter last year, and Leo Aryault, a 6-foot-5 sleeper in the middle with an accomplished arsenal of crafty moves with his back to the basket that Fralick expects to average close to a double-double.
Fueling Fralick's bench unit this year will be junior guard Joe Leonard, a speedy sparkplug that can play either position in the backcourt and the inside-outside sophomore tandem of Zach Noor and Danny Wunderlich. Noor is the Colts' floor general of the future and will spell Mahone and Young at the point and Wunderlich, whose older brother Bobby was a two-sport team captain at the school who took Troy to its last district on the hardwood in 2008, is a mirror image of his big bro; prototypical roughneck around the basket with a pure touch in the paint and a knack for grabbing every rebound in his vicinity with reckless abandon.
"James is obviously our No. 1 player, we're going to be running most of our stuff through him, but that's really going to open up stuff for other guys to take advantage of," Fralick said. "When defenses overplay in his direction they'll get lots of open shots. If they can consistently knock those shots down, which I know they can, that will make us very hard to deal with."
In his two decades on the sidelines, Fralick has raised seven district championship banners and produced a number of college players, including the likes of Jay Phifer (Valparaiso), Wyki Tyson (Illinois State) and his own son Tim (Oakland University), a point guard on Troy's 1997 squad that made a run into the Sweet 16.  
The last time the Colts won a regional was in 1989 when Fralick was an assistant to Jim Clary.
Fralick's current team will be a favorite to repeat as league champion in the OAA White when conference action begins in January. The top threats to Troy's chances at claiming a second consecutive White title will most likely come from Rochester Adams (coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last march), Auburn Hills Avondale (2011 White co-champs) and Ferndale.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Five For Fighting - Down To The Wire

Five For Fighting – Best Football Final Four Outings on Saturday
1 Grant Niemiec (OL St. Mary's) – The Eaglets' junior FACTOR BACK was a straight menace against upstart Battle Creek Harper Creek, rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than 50 seconds to play, and making eight tackles on defense
2 (tie) James Ross (OL St. Mary's) – One word; DEVASTATING. St. Mary's All-American linebacker showed off his Blue Chip status by absolutely destroying everything in his vicinity, racking up a game-high 18 tackles in only three quarters of play in the Eaglets 14-10 come from behind victory over Harper Creek.
2 (tie) Devin Church (Birmingham Brother Rice) – The leader of the Warriors' PRIMETIME POSSEE backfield busted up the Detroit King 'D' for 225 yards on the ground and one touchdown in Brother Rice's 27-26 nail-biter of a win.
3 Luke Cherocchi & Sergio Perkovic (Birmingham Brother Rice) – This tenacious Rice defensive tandem joined forces late in the Warriors' victory to snuff out a potentially game-winning 2-point conversion attempt by King star Dennis Norfleet.
4 Kyle Cooper (Novi Detroit Catholic Center) – Once again showing off his big-play ability under center, my boy KC tossed two COOP-A-LOOPS aka touchdowns, including the contest-clinching 8-yard scoring connection with junior tailback Anthony Darkangelo in OT of the Shamrocks 23-20 defeat of fellow state powerhouse Rockford.
5 Kyle Bambard (WL Western) – Continued to show why he's one of the top playmakers in the state's Class of 2014, throwing for a career-high 341 yards and 4 TDS in Western's heartbreaking 42-35 overtime loss at the hands of Lowell. Also an ace placekicker - one of the best in the NATION for his age grade - banged home a 47-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to force the extra session.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Training Camp Report - Horse Play

The Holly Bronchos have experienced a hoops resurgence the past three years.
Perpetually exuberant Bronchos boys basketball coach Lance Baylis has brought a newfound pride and passion back to the Horseshoe, accumulating over 50 wins (an average of 17 per campaign) since 2009 and making people in Southeastern Michigan take notice of what he's been doing with the once downtrodden Holly program since his arrival.
With another Baylis' roster filled to the brim with talent this year, a cagey concoction of seasoned veterans and fresh faces, TEAM HORSE will once again be making noise in the local prep ranks.
Having sent close to a dozen former players onto the college level in his short tenure on the sidelines, Baylis compared his current squad to a prep version of the early Bad Boys Pistons teams of the late 1980s.
"We're like the Pistons around '87 and '88 when they had a mix of veterans like Isaiah, Adrian Dantley and Bill Lambier and young up-and-comers like Dumars, Dennis Rodman and John Salley," he said. "I've got great leadership from my upperclassmen and a group of underclassmen that are going to really compliment them nicely. Hopefully, they'll feed off each other and it will translate to another successful season."
Holly's 2011-2012 hardwood crew is set to be fueled by a dangerous trio of three-year letter-winners in center Nic Stoll (6-7), forward Austin Hopkin (6-4) and guard Jared Plawski (6-3).
Stoll will be one of Metro Detroit's most polished big men this winter and arguably the top player in the Flint Metro League. He averaged a double-double last season and will conclude his career as a Broncho as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots. Earlier this month, Stoll signed a National Letter of Intent to play his college ball at Michigan Tech.
Hopkin and Plawski, a pair of rugged football stars known for taking their tenacious gridiron mentality with them onto the basketball floor, are poised for breakout years, graduating from role players to featured players and team leaders with something to prove. Plawski will run the point and Hopkin can hurt opponents equally in the post and on the perimeter. Lance Hopkin ('10), Austin's big brother, was an all-league starting forward on Holly's league championship team three years ago.
The squad's sleeper could be Donovan Williams, slated to start besides Plawski in the Bronchos backcourt. A natural scorer, Williams – a reserve last season and the JV's leading point getter in 2010 –, will be let loose this year and be allowed to display his refined arsenal of offensive moves at every opportunity.
Closing out the starting lineup will be junior Mike Alexander. Coming off a productive summer on the AAU circuit, Alexander is a crafty lefthander that can play solid defense and knock down the open jumper when called upon to do so.
The squad's bench unit is set to be manned by a quadrant of talented youngsters, three freshmen and one sophomore whom Baylis has supreme confidence in making a mark as a group right off the bat.
The three freshmen are Morgan Baylis, the coach's son, Issac Casillas and Parker Rowse, an intriguing trifecta that have been playing together since the third grade. Baylis is a classic combo guard, while Casillas is an expert outside shooting specialist and Rowse, a fast-improving floor general.
Logan Spiker, a transfer from Wateford Our Lady of the Lakes, will be the only sophomore on the roster and will back-up Hopkin, Alexander and Stoll.
"These guys are all chomping at the bit to get after it this season and show everyone that Holly basketball is here to stay," said Baylis of his team's mindset heading towards its first game in two weeks. "The guys before them started the tradition, now they're here to continue it."
When he was in high school, Baylis was an all-state shooting guard at Birmingham Groves in the late 1970s before going on to play D1 ball in college down in Florida at Stetson.
Holly kicks off the schedule on December 5 when Baylis and the Bronchos host Lapeer East at the Horseshoe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Young & The Restless

All four Oakland County prep football squads that have advanced into the state semifinals this weekend are getting important contributions from sensational sophomores coming down the stretch in the 2011 campaign.
Let's breakdown the OC youth influx team-by-team;
Novi Detroit Catholic Central
Zach Bock (RB/KR/DB) – This jack of all trades offensive stud is a force of nature every time he touches the rock. He has playmaker written all over him – demonstrated most recently by his 148 total yards and one touchdown on Saturday in the Shamrocks 21-0 smackdown of Ann Arbor Pioneer. His performance in the backfield late in the season has been integral to CC making its current run into the final four. Look for Bock to most likely take over signal calling duties as the Shamrocks' starting quarterback next fall  
Dylan Roney (LB/DL) – Rising defensive star for CCNATION with a knack for the big play. He made nine tackles, recorded one sack and forced and recovered a key fumble in the Shamrocks defeat of OL St. Mary's in the Catholic League championship game at Ford Field last month and collected 8 wrap ups in CC's win in last weekend's regional finals. Think perfect combo of Matt Godin and Mike Kinville
Birmingham Brother Rice
Jason Alessi (K/S) – Spawning from a long line of standout Warrior athletes, Alessi has come on the scene and stabilized a once-poisonous special team's kicking unit. He has also looked good in spot duty in the secondary at the safety position. Jason's older brother Joey ('11) was a two-team all-league forward on the school's basketball team that helped lead Rice to back-to-back district titles
Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Jalen Watts-Jackson (WR/DB/KR) – The best way to describe JWJ is Allen Robinson (Penn State) three years ago. PURE DIAPER DANDY!!!
Walled Lake Western
Kyle Bambard (QB/K) – A dynamic presence under the center that has been killing the comp with his savvy and electrifying moves. If that wasn't enough he's one of the best placekickers in the nation in the Class of 2014.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Training Camp Report - Another Green Day

The West Bloomfield boys basketball team surprised a lot of people last winter with its play.
Second-year Lakers head coach Jeremy Denha hopes it will be more of the same for the upcoming season.
"This is going to be an interesting year because we have a nice mix of talent, but they haven't played that much together as a unit," he said. "They love playing the game that's for sure and a couple of them are very skilled. I'm hoping we can sneak up on some teams like we were able to do last year."
In Denha's first year at the helm of West Bloomfield's hoop program, the Lakers were picked to finish at the bottom of their league's standings, however, they stood at the top of the Oakland Activities Association Red Division for most of the 2010-2011 season, finishing the campaign with an overall record of 13-8. WB's 2011 cage crew impressed prep pundits from around the state by sweeping its season series with back-to-back final four participant Southfield and its terrorizing inside-outside tandem of Carlton Brundidge (Michigan) and Patrick Onwenu (Texas Southern).
Denha's current squad will be led into battle by senior all-league guard Darren Byrd, the Lakers' only returning starter, and a pair of potential impact transfers in senior Jake Daniels from Waterford Kettering and junior Byron Williams from Orchard Lake St. Mary's.
Byrd ran the point last year, but will see more time off the ball this season because of his natural scoring ability. Daniels is a hard-working SIR-GRIND-A-LOT that bangs on the block and has a well-developed mid-range game. He can play either forward spot and will be looked to aid Byrd in carrying a chunk of the team's scoring load. Williams is an athletic post player with a wide-reaching wingspan and raw explosiveness on the fast break and around the rim.
The Lakers' youth contingent will be led by sophomores Kevin Byrd, Darren's little brother, and Josh Birnberg and juniors Brandon Cole and Malik Humes. The younger Byrd and Birnberg will both share some of the team's ball-handling responsibilities and help the veteran elder Byrd, who is a natural leader and versatile athlete, having quarterbacked the school on the football field this fall, head West Bloomfield's backcourt rotation. Cole and Humes are long and spry wings that each have a nose for the bottom of the basket and can play lockdown defense on either guards or bigs whenever called up upon.
Before taking the reins with the Lakers, Denha was the head coach at Berkley for three years. As a prepster himself he starred at Utica Ford in the late 1990s before going on to play at the college level at Wayne State.
West Bloomfield opens the 2011-2012 campaign on December 6 against Melvindale. Some of the Lakers most compelling non-league contests this year include hardwood showdowns with Saginaw Buena Vista, Oak Park and Denha's former squad, Berkley.
Last season's leading scorer, all-state forward Spencer Parker, is heading to play his college ball in the Mid-American Conference at Bowling Green.