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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Little Fella, Big Heart

The long journey will end in the "Valley of the Sun."
After a run that saw him play at three different high schools - always displaying hunger and heart whenever he was competing - , former local prep hoops standout Christian Pino has decided to walk-on at Arizona State of the Pac-12 Conference.
Pino, a relentless, spunky and steady 5-foot-7 point guard, started as a freshman at Bloomfield Hills Andover and then as a sophomore and junior at Birmingham Seaholm, helping lead the Maples to a league title in 2010. He concluded his high school cage career at Romulus, where he was a starter in the backcourt on the Eagles' Class A state championship squad back in the winter.
Arizona State finished a respectable 22-13 this year, losing to Baylor in the second round of the NIT. The Sun Devils were 16-4 on their home floor.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things To Come

Several "sizzlers" that are underclassmen have been making a name for themselves on the local prep baseball diamond this spring.
Here are some YOUNG GUNZ that you should be keeping tabs on:
Nate Grys (MH Bishop Foley) – A premiere position player in the state, already committed to WMU and the top outfielder on a Ventures club going for the first 3-peat in state history
Josh Smith (Birmingham Brother Rice) – Best underclassmen pitching prospect in the state, already committed to Kentucky and not even close to scratching the surface of his rare talent set
Chandler Sedat (West Bloomfield) – By the time they graduate in two years, Sedat will give Smith a run for his money as the Class of 2015's No. 1 hurler…..The command he displays on the mound is really impressive
Tyson Smith (OL St. Mary's) – Super two-sport stud (baseball and football) that has been crushing it at the plate this year
Nick Plummer-Johnny Garry (Birmingham Brother Rice) – Top underclassmen pair of outfielders in the area….THAT'S A FACT!!         
Perry Klemanski (BH Andover) – You can start calling my man PK "5-Tool", dangerous in the field  at short and toeing the slab, not to mention a terror in the lineup that can spray the ball all over the park
Eric Gilgenbach (Stoney Creek) – Just so complete in so many ways
John Van Hoef (Troy Athens) – Power personified at the dish and on the hill
Alex Darden (North Farmington) – Burney sees a future D1 hurler in this dandy of a lefty, as of right now the best pitcher in the freshmen class, bar none…..YEAH I SAID IT!! 
Gavin Harris –Kyle Harris (Novi FR Christian) – Two more Harris DIAMOND GEMS coming up the pike for their pops in the dugout
Malik Brown (Birmingham Groves) – Smooth and sturdy on offense and defense as a catcher, outstanding composure and leadership skills for such a young man
Thomas Brumfield (MH Bishop Foley) – The next great Ventures diamond-cutter…U HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!
Matt Beerman (BH Lahser) – Rising talent at the plate and behind it as a top-notch defensive catcher with a rifle of an arm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Call of Duty

Uncle Sam might have some more OC BALLERS coming his way.
Alberto Sandoval and Sage Baltrusaitis, Birmingham Brother Rice's pair of Big Nastys on the football field, might be continuing a recent trend of local prep grid stars going on to play in college at U.S. service academies.
Sandoval (6-foot-4, 250 pounds), the Warriors agile and aggressive defensive lineman, was just offered by Air Force and Baltrusaitis (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), TEAM FRACASSA's "Rock of Gibraltar" at the point attack, lining up at center, has made it known in his recruiting process that he's possibly interested in landing at a service academy 
Both Sandoval and Baltrusaitis started on Brother Rice's 2012 state-title squad last fall as juniors and were key reserves on the 2011 state-championship club when they were up-and-coming sophomore studs.
Helping anchor a stout Warriors 'D', Sandoval registered 75 tackles and 5 sacks in 2012.
This upcoming season, Baltrusaitis, whose sister, Maddy, was an all-league guard on the girls basketball floor at Royal Oak Shrine a couples years ago, will literally be at GROUND ZERO in the running of what could become the most explosive offense in the whole state. 
The service academies have been gobbling up recruits from the area talent pool as of late. It started with Lake Orion all-state running back Marques Stevenson going to Air Force in 2011 and has continued with the Falcons grabbing Pontiac Notre Dame Prep kicker Ruairi McGreevy in 2012 and Bloomfield Hills Lahser defensive lineman Andrew Gikas this year and Navy snaring the services of Clarkston placekicker-punter Alex Barta last year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Five For Fighting - Managing Must-Sees

5 For Fighting – Top OC SKIPPER report: Burney's best efforts in the baseball dugout in '13
1 Tim Mullen (Troy) – Really, really impressed this season with his skills as a skipper, came out of nowhere to BLOW BURNEY's MIND!!!....That's a FACT!!!
2 Josh Gruppen (Berkley) – I Knew TEAM Gruppen's DIAMOND  GRINDERS were on the way up, but they took it to the OFF-THE-CHAIN level way quicker than expected…...MAD PROPS!!
3 Kevin La Plante (WL Northern) – Most underrated skipper in the OC…..YEAH, I SAID IT!!        
4 Phil Price (Clarkston) – Price delivers another great outing in the dugout this year….C-TOWN WOLFPACK DIAMOND DANDIES have been in ATTACK MODE since jumpstreet aka BEAST MODE aka PRICE MODE!!!
5 Mike O'Connell (North Farmington) – The Raiders took it 2 THA MAX this spring, living up to the longtime moniker associated with their nickname….as in JUST WIN BABY!!!.....All Hail THE OAA WHITE CHAMPS!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rupp The Ripper

Who knew Birmingham Brother Rice ace pitcher Matt Ruppenthal was such a good hitter?...and fielder for that matter!
Ruppenthal, the Warriors' All-American junior hurler, is hitting over .400 this spring (6 homers, 26 RBI) and showing his skills as a genuine power threat at the plate, not to mention the ability to play a mean shortstop when he ain't on the mound mowing them down like his name was CURT SCHILLING.
I had no idea.
Before this year, Ruppenthal (committed to the play his college baseball in the SEC at Vandy) only pitched. Then some spaces in the line-up card opened up and he's more than answered the call.....think Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone...that's how big of an answer it's been with RUPP THE RIPPER doing damage all over the field for TEAM RIKER.
In the Catholic League Finals last week, he was at his versatile best in leading his team to its second CHSL crown in a row. He got the win on the hill, going the distance, and went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI in the batter's box in the 12-2 victory over arch-rival Novi Detroit CC.
As of now, he's THE ultimate triple-threat in the OC.
And that's Burney Certified!!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hunger Games

Metro Detroit prep pigskin pride will face-off with a formidable foe in hunger on August 21, as Ford Field will host the first-annual Forgotten Harvest Classic, showcasing four competitive match-ups on the gridiron, including one of Oakland County's best rivalries.  
Clarkston and Rochester Adams are set to lock horns in the event's nightcap at 7:00 p.m., bringing a close on a great day of football and fun that will see all its proceeds donated to Forgotten Harvest, the country's most successful food-bank and a staple of area philanthropy for the past 22 years.
Forgotten Harvest donates over 40 million pounds of food to the needy yearly.
Both Clarkston and Adams are expected to be heavyweights on the high school football this fall.
The pair of perennial OC powerhouses traditionally meet in the first week of the season.
The Wolfpack of C-Town has won two straight in the series.
Some of the top players that will be on hand at Ford Field in August when TEAM K-RICH and the Highlanders are: Michigan State-commit Matt Sokol, Adams' quarterback and a future college tight end and Clarkston's college-recruits like the OC leading-rusher in 2012 Ian Erickson, star cornerback Timmy Cason, "big nastys" in the trenches, David Beedle and the Matich brothers (Nick and Andy) and shifty and versatile quarterback-defensive back Caine Watlington. Adams' running back Clarence Broadnax is another name to be on the look-out for.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Blowing Up Like Nitro

These local prep athletes are fast-risers on the college recruiting radar
Richie Wilson (Birmingham DCD) – Prolific tailback finally getting the props he deserves on the recruiting trail, grabbing offers like it's his job lately
Jeron "Buddha" Rogers (North Farmington) – Just killing it in the early AAU hoops season, raising his already--soaring stock
David Beedle & Nick Matich (Clarkston) – Gritty and technically-skilled pair of line prospects on the that are receiving a lot of D1 college love on the gridiron recently
Josh Bays (Lake Orion) – A natural on the diamond, whether in centerfield, at the plate and on the mound....his performance this spring has really started to get the college scouts talking
Alex Sobczac (FH Mercy) – Rare power-threat at the softball dish and is only a super soph....approaching the state-record for homers in a single season, all Burney can say is WOW, as are the D1 college recruiters across the Midwest
Shane Hynes (Clarkston) – Seeing tremendous D1 college pigskin interest for his accuracy and moxie as kicker

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Burney's Baseball Rankings - Final Countdown

OC Top 10
1 MH Bishop Foley – Ventures ace Garrett Schilling is just so money from the mound its sick!!
2 Birmingham Brother Rice – I smell a trip to Battle Creek on the horizon for TEAM RIKER….MARK THAT DOWN!!
3 Lake Orion – Slipped a little lately (well,sort of, since they did win a share of an OAA Red league crown on Monday), but will take back their original status as SUPER-STUD DIAMOND CUTTERS when the playoffs start
4 Clarkston – The Price is Right again for TEAM WOLFPACK this year under skipper Phil Price!!!.
5 North Farmington – Burney sees a long tourney run in the Raiders' future….TAKE IT 2 THE BANK!!!
6 WL Northern – Is there anything Knights junior Brennan Williams can't do on the baseball field….This kid is a straight BALLER & SHOT CALLER in every way!!!
7 West Bloomfield – TEAM PIERCE poised to finish strong!!!
8 Stoney Creek – Da Creek is the Da BOMB…Plain and Simple!!!!
9 Novi Detroit CC – Shamrocks ready to ROCK into the postseason… if there was any question!!!!
10. (tie)  OL St. Mary's – River Rymsha could be the most underrated shredder at the dish in the OC….YEAH, I SAID IT!!      
10 (tie) Berkley – Bears growling to an unexpected league title?
10 (tie) WL Central – I have faith in TEAM ROFFI to surge late!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Opening The Door

With the announcement that Warren De La Salle boys basketball star A.J. Turner won't be returning for his senior year next winter, the always rough-and-rugged CHSL Central seems to really be wide open now.
Before Turner decided to make the move and reclassify to the Class of 2015, De La Salle was fixing for a possible run to a state title. Turner's departure – a transfer to a prep school in New Hampshire – bodes well for defending CHSL Central champ U-D Jesuit, who will be led by superstar-in-the-making sophomore Cassius Winston, currently one of the top freshman in the nation, and local OC squads OL St. Mary's and Novi Detroit CC.
St. Mary's junior-to-be Teddy McCree aka "Teddy Ball Game" will be a dynamic force on the wing and in the post for TEAM PORRITT and Mitch Katkic is a tough-as-nails floor general just like his brother Richie was on those back-to-back CC district-title squads in 2011 and 2012 and will be a top-tier point guard in the league as a senior in 2014.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Running With The Rebels

Your boy Burney just got back from Las Vegas, reuniting with some of his crew from those epic IU Hoosiers days and wanted to drop a quick nugget of knowledge regarding a link between the 'D' and the Sin City cage scene.
Although there is not a direct tie to the OC itself, all you youngsters should know your local sports history.
Detroit born-and-bred baller Anderson Hunt was a key member of arguably the best college basketball team in NCAA history – at the very least when it was at the mountain top it could stake a legit claim to being the most electrifying squad of all-time.
I'm talking about the UNLV Running Rebels from the 1989-1990 campaign through 1990-1991 season.
With Hunt, an athletic jitterbug of an off-guard who displayed a hot-stroke beyond the arc and was a premiere finisher going to the rim, and current NBA broadcast gem Greg Anthony anchoring the backcourt, the Rebels went 69-6.
In 1990 they won the National Championship and Hunt busted out for 29 points, while snagging MVP honors in the title game against Duke, which was a total and utter throttling.
The next year they were in CRUSH MODE all season (34-0), until the NCAA title game when they got upset by that same Duke team to give Coach K his first crown.
These guys were absolute ROCK STARS, the Fab Five before the Fab Five – Michigan's vaunted 5-pack literally came along the following campaign.
Besides Hunt, UNLV sported a cage crew chalk-full of talent (future NBA lottery picks Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon) that was incredibly exciting to watch play – lots of fast-breaks and in-your-face defense, peppered in between head coach Jerry Tarkanian's clever "Ameba Defense," a strategy used to confuse opposing teams by constantly switching from man-to-man to zone. The Rebels' stifling defense created massive amounts of turnovers and transition opportunities, many of them capped by a flying Hunt jam or 3-point bomb.
Hunt was never drafted in the NBA – he made a critical mistake by deciding to leave college early before that was thing to do unless your name was Magic, MJ or Isaiah
After playing professionally in Europe and encountering some personal off-the-court issues, he has rebounded nicely and became an extremely successful real estate entrepreneur, much of his business being conducted in the Motor City.
In high school, Hunt was an all-state hoopster at Detroit Southwestern, shunning Michigan and Michigan St to instead head out West to the Strip and play for Tark the Shark.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cager Update - Hoop-a-Palooza

Some recent OC-related hoops news
South Lyon all-league point guard Luke Short signed with Madonna last week. Short led the Lions to district and league championships and a spot in the Class A Sweet 16 back in the winter. He is the most recent of a long line of family floor generals on the prep hardwood in South Lyon, including both his brothers and sisters.
Former Birmingham Detroit Country Day forward Jodan Price has landed at Eastern Michigan after spending his frosh campaign in Chicago at DePaul. Price is a sharpe-shooting wing whose brother Austin helped lead DCD to a state title this year and is signed with Lehigh. When he was captain of the 'Jackets baller crew in 2012, the team advanced into the final four.
Waterford Kettering center Quincy Norman will be playing in college at Adrian. Norman was an all-league selection in the KLAA this winter and showed flashes of pure domination in the post in his lone campaign with the Corsairs, after transferring from the PSL. In one win over West Bloomfield, he posted a breathtaking outing of 26 points and 30 rebounds. He was good for a double-double or close to it nearly every night.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Burney's Baseball Rankings - Divide & Conquer

1 MH Bishop Foley – FOUR LETTERS: 3PEAT!!         
2 Lake Orion  Dragons' junior hurler Brad Schaenzer has officially reached SWAGGER LEVEL FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND TRILLION!!!
3 Birmingham Brother Rice – TEAM RIKER slugging specialist Ty Kiafoulis is as natural a hitter as any Burney has seen in recent memory!!!
4 Clarkston – C-Town is the PLACE 2 B Town this spring on the diamond, both baseball and softball!!!! WOLFPACK PRIDE is bubbling over, catch the feeling!!!!
5 West Bloomfield – Lakers' shortstop Josh Birnberg is embodying his name and BURNING UP the batter's box this year…this kid takes his cuts with the best around….TAKE IT 2 THE BANK!   
6 Novi Detroit CC – Peaking at the right time!!!
7 OL St. Mary's – Eaglets junior Joe Giacalone could be the most durable and underrated pitcher in the CHSL-Central…..YEAH I SAID IT!!
8 WL Northern – Knights senior centerfielder Jake Ginster is one of Burney's favorite 3-sport SUPERSTUDS!!! The 'G' stands for GRINDER!!
9 WL Central – TEAM ROFFI is getting ready to ROAR again after taking two on the chin to crosstown rival WLNorthern late last week...never doubt IKE THE VIKE...THAT'S A FACT!!
10 (tie) Stoney Creek – Quick note from COUGARVILLE: Noah Beck is a BALLER and a SHOT CALLER, plain and simple!!
10 (tie) Berkley – I've nicknamed Bears ALL-LEAGUE senior captain Ian Kobernick "The SHREDDER" 'cause this young man STRAIGHT RAKES at the dish!!!......TEAM GRUPPEN coming out of almost nowhere to be in the driver's seat heading down the stretch for the league crown in the OAA BLUE

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Turning Blue

Former local star prep football player Kalon Humphries is moving on to the next level.
Playing his freshman season of pigskin at Adrian, the tenacious offensive lineman who back in 2011 at Walled Lake Western helped lead TEAM Z to a league title and the final four, has recently accepted a preferred walk-on slot at the University of Michigan.
Burney says: Great pick-up by the Wolverines!!!!
The Maize and Blue coaching staff is going to love this kid!!!
In high school, Humphries was a two-time all-league selection out of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association.
He continued his accolades at Adrian last fall, earning all-league honors on a squad that raised a conference-championship banner.
Humphries is a workhorse and grinder in every sense of the words. He loves to battle and knock pads in the trenches. He'll test all those scholarship HUNGRY HEFFERS on the line in Ann Arbor at practice and don't be surprised in a few years to see him get on the field in the BIG HOUSE himself.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rocky '13

Everyone's heard of the famous Rocky movies – all six of them.
They're apart of Americana, the story of an underdog prize fighter that wins the heavyweight boxing title of the world and becomes a beloved national figure overcoming odds at every turn on the screen.
Well, Oakland County has the latest Rocky sequel and its coming to a football field near you in just a few months' time - just call it Rocky '13. Or shall I say call HIM.
His name is Rayquan (Rocky) Carter and he'll be catching passes on the prep gridiron at Southfield High School in the fall for his senior campaign.
Carter, a speedy slot receiver that can also go deep with ease and who played at Farmington Hills Harrison the past couple of years, moved with his family to Southfield last week and has already enrolled in BLUEJAYSLAND. He'll be eligible immediately.
Most local fans don't know about Carter because of an injury-plagued junior season last fall, where it wasn't until the final couple weeks of the schedule that he really started to show true flashes.
Now, that said, the raw skill-set is unquestioned. And that's what makes him a commodity.
He was the fastest player in the Harrison program in 2012, no small feat when you take in account that the Hawks always have a deep crop of burners in the stables at nearly every position. In summer workouts and 7-on-7s, Carter consistently performs and demonstrates his explosiveness.
Hopefully, this season at Southfield (four playoff appearances in five years) all that potential will continue to translate into on-field production.
Once adapted to the system with the Bluejays, Carter could be a major asset to add to a receiving corps that already includes up-and-coming talents Ray Buford and Dior Johnson. They'll be hauling in passes from another transfer, Jalen Brady, a smart playmaker under center that arrived at Southfield in January from Grand Ledge.

Friday, May 10, 2013

So So Close

Rochester Hills Adams junior football star Matt Sokol is inching closer to becoming a Spartan.
Sokol, one of the top offensive players in the area's Class of 2014, received a scholarship offer from Michigan State last week.
Word is he's on the verge of committing.
Although Sokol (6-foot-6, 220) is a top quarterback in high school, he's being recruited at the tight end position.
There lies no question that this kid is an elite athlete.
Back as a sophomore, he earned a starting spot on the Adams varsity basketball team.
Besides MSU's grid program, Sokol has earned DI scholarship offers from fellow Big 10 school Illinois, Bowling Green, EMU and CMU.
Oakland County has served head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans well from the tight end position. Orchard Lake St. Mary's alum Dion Simms started throughout his career in East Lansing and was recently a fourth-round NFL Draft pick by the Miami Dolphins and is already pushing for playing time in mini-camp.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Candidate Debate

A look at the potential candidates for the much-coveted Birmingham Detroit Country Day boys basketball head-coaching vacancy, left open with the sudden resignation of legendary 'Jackets head coach Kurt Keener last week:
The frontrunner
Rick Palmer – If it was a PGA event, this young and inspiring Kurt Keener protégé would be the leader in the clubhouse right now
The rest of the pack (aka The 'In-House' Crew)
Mike Massucci – Keener's right-hand man during the Shane Battier era in the mid-to-late 1990s who has been at Royal Oak the past two years
Lee Bailey, Sr. – An assistant coach and 'Jackets JV coach under Keener during the late 2000s that had a cup of coffee on the bench at Walled Lake Western and is the father of current Chaminade guard and former DCD two-sport superstar Lee Bailey, Jr.
Joe Plawecki – Keener disciple on the DCD sidelines for the past two state titles who logged time back in the day as a head coach at Anchor Bay
Fred Massey – The 'Jackets big fella coach during a time when the KEENER KAGE CREW was churning out D1 post prospects like the GM plant spits out cars (see Ohio State's Amir Williams, DePaul's Donovan Kirk and EMU's DaShonte Riley, formerly at Syracuse)
The sleepers
Nate Oats – The hottest head-coaching commodity around after winning the Class A state title with Romulus in March  
Josh Baker – Has won back-to-back state championships in Class D at Southfield Christian, might this Nate Oats disciple want to test out his skills with the clipboard at a higher level?
Todd Negoshian – This young gun on the North Farmington sidelines had his name surface last offseason when the Walled Lake Central job opened up and now it's beginning to circulate again as a possible pony in the race for the 'Jackets job
Michael Allie – A true darkhorse in this hunt that could wind up being a great choice (you'll see, no matter where he lands). Did outstanding in his inaugural head-coaching stint at Livonia Stevenson developing Jalen Reynolds (Xavier) and is one of the top AAU coaches in the state, coaching up mad talent with the REACH Legends

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keep' em Coming

Adrian College is going OC hoop crazy.
Earlier this week, the Bulldogs men's basketball program garnered a commitment from Southfield star swingman Earl Swift.
Now, the women's program has gotten in on the action, snagging Farmington Hills Harrison all-league point guard Marissa Cotton.
Like Swift, Cotton is one of Oakland County's top seniors, a "sleeper special" on the college recruiting scene that possesses all the requisite skill and desire to breakout BIG TIME in a Bulldogs uniform these next four years.
She certainly made her mark at Harrison as a prepster, the type of imprint nobody at the school has ever left.
This past winter, Cotton captained the Hawks to a league crown and the first district championship in school history in either boys or girls cage action.
A fearless leader and competitor on the hardwood, she simply willed her squad to the promise land, with the help of a superb supporting cast (Fab Frosh Amber Stephens and Kristin Nelson on the perimeter and center Kyla Roland acting as the club's post-protector).
The word tenacious doesn't do this spunky jitterbug in the backcourt justice when she's on the court. She's all over the place, doing all kinds of positive things for her squad.
Breaking the Hawks' record for single-season 3-point bombs (54), Cotton averaged a well-balanced 13 points, 4 assists, four rebounds and four steals per contest. As if her middle name was COMERICA, she was STRAIGHT CASH MONEY at the charity stripe. Cotton drilled several last-second free throws in Harrison's 47-42 downing of Walled Lake Western in the district finals.
Adrian's Lady Bulldogs finished 8-16 in 2013.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Killing Them Swiftly

A menace of the mid-range game, Southfield senior boys basketball star Earl Swift is a steal for an MIAA school.
Thusly, Adrian College might need to be turning itself in to the authorities for larceny.
On Monday, Swift, the Bluejays 6-foot-4 swingman and two-time all-league pick, committed to play his college hoops in the MIAA with the Bulldogs.
Under head coach Mark White, who when on the prep sidelines at Detroit Renaissance in the early-to-mid 2000s captured two state championships, Adrian went 18-8 this winter.
Swift is a winner….plain and simple. He's the consummate workhorse on the perimeter, simply out-grinding defenders coming off screens and swishing jumper after jumper with his subtle touch and soft stroke.
Earning varsity letters with Southfield the past three years, Swift helped lead the Bluejays to back-to-back district titles as a sophomore and junior, playing a key reserve role in the team's run to the final four in 2011.
Besides his work ethic and "coachability", his best attribute is his efficiency on the floor. In terms of shot attempts, he doesn't need a lot to do his damage. And he's money from the free-throw line, popping it at over an 80 percent clip.
The only player hailing from Oakland County on Adrian's roster in 2013 was Ferndale's Nate Stepney.