Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rochester Adam's Annese commits to Central Michigan and Another Potential Sleeper Prospect at Quarterback

Central Michigan have gotten a commitment from Rochester Adams quarterback Tony Annese. Annese is an intriguing prospect for a number of reasons, starting with his versatility. Considered to be a pro-style quarterback, Annese has shown the ability to get the job done with his arm and his legs, throwing and running for 900 yards as a junior while totaling 22 touchdowns in 2010. Annese will likely play defense, proving to be a sure tackler in the Highlander's secondary last season, but could remain an option at the quarterback position for the Chippewas. Annese also had an offer from Eastern Michigan while there was also plenty of interest from other MAC level schools.

Another player that fits into the same mold that Annese does is Farmington Hills Harrison's Jake Vento. Vento, who played reciever last year while his brother, Tommy, took care of the signal calling, will be stepping into that very role this season. Vento is a very athletic player that will be key for Harrison's chances at a repeat as state champion. Vento, while undersized could stand a chance at playing quarterback at the next level, because of his ability as a passer which will be overlooked early on in the 2011 season. Vento will likely recieve offers to play in the MAC and Big 10, but only time will tell whether or not he will translate into being a quarterback or wide reciever at the next level.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michigan and Michigan State recruiting: Reviewing the last week

Se’von Pittman, DE- McKinnley H.S. (OH)
Pittman had offers coming from everywhere, turning down offers from the likes of perennial powers Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Ohio State as well as Notre Dame and Michigan among others. According to Rivals, Pittman is a four star recruit and is the number eight defensive end and is in the top 70 players in the nation for the class of 2012. With the other schools that were in on Pittman, this looks like a steal for the Spartans to lure a talent like Pittman away from some of the country’s best programs.

Nick Tompkins, RB- Brookward H.S. (GA)
Tompkins, nearly rushed for 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior in 2010 and according to Rivals is a three star recruit and is the number 10 running back in the nation for 2012. Wisconsin, Purdue, California, Georgia Tech and 15 other schools also made offers before Tompkins decided on Michigan State. With Michigan State already having one of the nation’s best backfields with Le’veon Bell, Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, Tompkins presence will only continue to bolster the Spartan’s commitment to the running game.

The Spartans also received offers from Southfield Lathrup’s Jamal Lyles, Indiana tight end Josiah Price, and Pennsylvania wide out Kyle Kerrick. Price received a handful of offers from MAC and Big 10 schools and is considered as a three star player according to Rivals. Kerrick is also a three star player and received offers mostly coming from Big East and Big 10 schools. Kerrick and Price should both eventually figure into the Spartan’s passing game as they will lose several key pieces in that department in the next couple of years. Lyle’s commitment was touched on back on Friday.

Blake Bars, OL- Montgomery Bell Academy (TN)
Bars, who will likely play tackle at Michigan, turned down offers from SEC powers Florida, LSU, and South Carolina while also sparking interest from Penn State, Purdue, and Clemson as well as a number of other schools. Bars is considered as a top 35 offensive lineman and is a four star recruit according to Rivals for the 2012 class. With Michigan looking to bolster its offensive line after a few lackluster seasons, Bars may be a centerpiece for the Wolverines for years.

Michigan also got a commitment from safety Jeremy Clark out of Kentucky who also received heavy interest from teams like North Carolina State and Illinois as well as some MAC schools. Clark should find a spot in the Wolverine secondary but will likely red shirt in his first season in Ann Arbor.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Football Recruiting: Taking a Look at Who's Left for 2012

Taking a look at some of the top players remaining in the 2012 class

Aaron Burbridge - Farmington Hills Harrison
Burbridge is the top offensive player in the state for the 2012 class, and for good reason. Since arriving at Harrison, Burbridge has been a force on both sides of the ball. According to, Burbridge is a four star recruit and is considering offers from instate Michigan and Michigan State as well as Notre Dame and Ohio State to go along with a few others. Ohio State’s chances are likely dashed because of recent violations the Buckeyes had under former coach Jim Tressel.

Ron Thompson - Southfield
Thompson is a three star recruit, and is currently mulling over offers from Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Michigan, and Indiana as well a few MAC schools. Thompson is considered to be one of the top remaining 2012 prospects in the state and should continue to pick up offers well into the fall. According to Rivals, Thompson is a three star player. Thompson’s 6-foot-4 210 frame would likely fit in nicely with all of the above teams at a number of positions.

Brandon Watkins - Southfield
Watkins, also a three star recruit according to Rivals has the speed (4.41 40 yard dash) and athleticism to play just about anywhere on the field at the next level. He likely fit’s the bill playing somewhere in the secondary with his 5-11 185 frame. He has received offers from Iowa, Toledo and Bowling Green, but much like his teammate he will likely receive offers throughout his senior season.

Leviticus Payne - Southfield
Payne is yet another three star recruit coming from Southfield and will figure to stay at the cornerback position when he makes. He’s a bit undersized at 5-9, but his athleticism is something that can’t be overlooked, reportedly running a 4.56 40 yard dash and a 33 inch vertical according to Rivals. He has received offers from Iowa, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Toledo and a few more from MAC schools.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lathrup's Lyles commits to Michigan State, Clarkston's Dellinger to Kent State

Michigan State has finally landed its first Oakland County recruit for the 2012 class in Southfield-Lathrup linebacker Jamal Lyles. Lyles is considered as the number 44 outside linebacker in the country according to Rivals and should step in nicely for the 2012 season and play aside other very talented linebackers that the Spartans have brought in during years past.
Lyles was highly sought after before committing to Michigan State, having received offers from Pittsburgh, Illinois, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Iowa and Stanford. Lyles measures out like an ideal linebacker would, standing at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and was rated as a three start player by Rivals.
Last season as a junior, Lyles made 90 tackles, 11 coming for loss and recovered four fumbles. Lyles is the eighth verbal commitment for Michigan State’s 2012 class.

Kent State may have found themselves a hidden gem in Clarkston linebacker Matt Dellinger, who decided to play football at the next level rather than basketball. The 6-foot-2, 195 pound Dellinger may be a bit of a tweener in college, having the size and speed to play either linebacker or safety. Dellinger made 70 tackles and had five sacks for the Wolves last season.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Girls Soccer: Who Should be Coach of the Year?

It’s hard to find a coach that did a better coaching job this spring than Lamphere’s Skip Mukhtar, who led the Rams to their first district and regional championships. In Mukhtar’s first three seasons, Lamphere only lost a grand total of 15 games during the stretch, while putting his team in very good position for the next few years.
In the playoffs, Mukhtar decided to turn to senior defender Marissa Knorp to be his team’s keeper going forward. Knorp had only played in net twice during the regular season after missing the first half of the year because of injury. The decision by Mukhtar turned out to be brilliant. Knorp, who started every game except for the district final, didn’t allow a single goal in until the semifinal game.
Also deserving of consideration is Birmingham Detroit Country Day’s Bob Bukari who admittedly was somewhat surprised at how well his team played this year. With six freshmen playing sizable roles all season, the Yellowjackets managed to also make an appearance in the state semifinals.
Bukari got huge production out of freshmen Michelle Manning and Arlyn Reed all season long, Manning at every turn seemed to be the most dangerous threat on the field, while Reed was as good as anybody defensively, often shutting down some of the state’s best.
Both of these team’s should be among the state’s top teams for the next few years, with Lamphere returning a talented sophomore class headlined by division 2 second team all-state defender Chelsea Thompson, and third team all-state midfielder Brianna Smith. Country Day, will only be losing three seniors while bringing back six freshmen and a number of sophomores and juniors.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just How Good has Novi Been Since 2005?

After two consecutive state titles and five state championships in the past seven years (2005, ‘06, ‘07, ‘10, ‘11), the Novi girl’s soccer team seems to have constructed a dynasty of sorts at the high school ranks. The Wildcats finished the 2011 season with a 1-0 win over Troy in the state title game, ending the season without a loss (22-0-2). They entered the season as the state’s top team, and never lost that ranking at any point in the season. Head coach Brian O’Leary is only one state title short of tying the MHSAA record of six for a head coach, the list of accomplishments goes on and on for Novi dating back to ‘05.
Novi keeper Gabby Gauruder has been as good as any in recent history during her time at Novi and was one of the most dominant keepers in 2011, as she recorded 14 shutouts, which is tied for eighth most in MHSAA history. Gauruder, only allowed 12 goals this season. The mark is the best for Novi since Kim Herbst recorded 19 in the 2005 season, which was the same season Novi captured it’s first title.
In the playoffs this season for Novi, they dominated in just about every department, Gauruder only allowed one goal throughout the entire playoffs, stopping eight shots in a 2-0 regional final win over then number two ranked Utica Eisenhower and then eight more saves in a narrow 2-1 semifinals win over Grosse Pointe South. She then made seven saves against Troy in the finals for her sixth shutout of the playoffs.
Led by two of the state’s most dangerous forwards in Nicki Caruso and Nickki Greenhalgh, Wildcats scored 32 goals in the seven postseason contests, averaging more than four goals per game.
In 2005 the Wildcats averaged better than five goals per game, pairing that with the 19 shutouts from Herbst and the Wildcats had one of the most dominant teams in the past 10 years. The Wildcats again averaged over five goals again in 2006 behind Stephanie Crawford who found the back of the net 47 times that season, good enough for second all time in Novi history and ninth all time in MHSAA history. Kristi Arrington score 51 goals in 2000 for Novi (6th all-time in MHSAA).
The Wildcats have been one of the top team’s in Michigan dating back to the 2005 season and have continued their dominance into the 2011 season, and don’t expect anything to change as long as head coach Brian O’Leary is in charge.
Gauruder and Caruso, an 2010 All-state forward will be heading to play at Michigan State next season, while Greenhalgh is heading to play for Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Girls Soccer and Baseball State Finals Predictions

Novi vs. Troy:
Troy may be playing their best soccer of the season, continuing to shut teams down defensively and have been equally dominant offensively. On the other side Novi continues to be perfect, and senior keeper continues to play as good as any keeper has in the county in recent history, only allowing one goal all postseason. Novi entered the season as the team to beat in Division I and they’ll end the season just as they started.
PICK: Novi 3 Troy 1

Madison Heights Bishop Foley vs. Lansing Christian:
Bishop Foley continues to flex it‘s muscle, beating teams by a combined 25-1 since the start of the playoffs, and often times, they‘ve made it look easy. This will be Bishop Foley’s third state finals appearance in four seasons, the Ventures came up empty handed in their previous two state finals games, but this one will end with Bishop Foley on top.
PICK: Bishop Foley 2 Lansing Christian 0

Madison Heights Bishop Foley vs. Muskegon Oakridge:
Bishop Foley has looked like and played like the state’s top team all season long, after a huge win over Gabriel Richard, the Ventures are likely playing with more confidence than ever.
PICK: Bishop Foley 5 Oakridge 0

Shepherd vs. Bridgman:
Shepherd, last season’s state champion in Division III, has played just as well in this year’s playoffs, scoring six or more runs in five of their six games in the postseason.
PICK: Shepherd 4 Bridgman 2

Bishop Foley vs. Shepherd:
The Ventures have steamrolled teams throughout the playoffs, not allowing more than three runs in any of their games in the postseason, while scoring runs with ease. It’s been over 20 years since the Ventures have played in a state title game, and they won’t disappoint in their return.
PICK: Bishop Foley 6 Shepherd 1

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Girls Soccer Semifinals Predictions

Novi vs. Grosse Pointe South:
Novi has been dominant all postseason long. Offensively, averaging over five goals per game while goalkeeper Gabby Gauruder has been equally impressive, not allowing a single shot into the back of the net to this point. If the Wildcats keep playing like this they will be keeping the state title for another year.
Pick: Novi 3 GPS 0

Troy vs. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
The Colts have gotten it done in a number of ways this year, finding sparks all over the board but the one constant they’ve had has been their defense. The Colts allowed their first goal of the playoffs in their 3-1 regional final win over Grand Blanc on Friday. Expect the Colt’s defense to dominate again.
Pick: Troy 2 Grand Rapids 1

Madison Height’s Lamphere vs. Livonia Ladywood
Lamphere is now in uncharted waters, having never been to the regional playoffs then alone the state semifinals. But the Rams have already proven to be battle tested, making it out of one of, if not the toughest district in the state, where they outlasted the likes of Bloomfield Hills Marian and Lahser. Senior keeper Marissa Knorp hasn’t allowed a goal this postseason and I don’t expect that to change in this game either.
Pick: Lamphere 1 Ladywood 0 in OT

Birmingham Detroit Country Day vs. Flint Powers Catholic:
Country Day head coach Bob Bukari deserves plenty of credit for his teams season. The Yellowjackets may be young, but that hasn’t kept them from racking up the wins, surprising many including Bukari. Flint Powers Catholic has been impressive all playoffs long, but the Country Day freshman duo of Michelle Manning and Arlyn Reed have silenced opponents on both ends all year.
Pick: Country Day 3 Powers Catholic 2

Madison Height’s Bishop Foley vs. Saginaw Nouvel
Bishop Foley hasn‘t allowed a goal since the opening round of the playoffs and seem to be getting stronger by the game as the postseason moves on. Nouvel bounced one Oakland County team out of the state tournament on Saturday when they beat Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes/Clarkston Everest Collegiate 3-0. Hopefully Nouvel wont have that kind of luck this time around.
Pick: Bishop Foley 3 Nouvel 2 in OT

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Getting Defensive - Girls Soccer

There are still five girls soccer teams from Oakland County that will be playing in the state semifinals and looking for a berth in the state finals and a big reason as to why these teams sill remain is defense.

Madison Height’s Lamphere head coach Skip Muhktar may have made the best decision going into the playoffs, making senior defender, Marissa Knorp, his team’s starting keeper for the playoffs. The decision has paid off big time as Knorp, who missed the first half of the season due to injury, has recorded shutouts in all four of the game’s she has started in the playoffs, most recently a 3-0 win over Linden on Friday night. Thanks to the gutsy, yet brilliant decision by Muhktar, the Rams won their first district title in school history as well as their first regional title.

Birmingham Detroit Country Day’s underclassmen continue to get the job done, freshman Michelle Manning is becoming a bigger offensive threat every single game and another highly touted freshman Arlyn Reed has been as good of a defender as any throughout the postseason for the Yellowjackets. Reed, has been at the center of the Country Day defense that has given up just one goal throughout the playoffs and helped keep the pressure off of junior keeper Rachel Bergman. Manning has been a facilitator and a goal scorer throughout, setting up opportunities for teammates while proving her ability to finish from a number of angles.

There are only a few words that can sum up Novi‘s playoff run: Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Why? The Wildcats have yet to allow a single goal through their first five postseason games. Senior keeper Gabby Gauruder has been a brick wall all year long and that was proven yet again on Friday when she turned away 10 shots by Utica Eisenhower and carrying her team onto the semifinals.

Troy has been able to get the job done in the playoffs with impressive offensive production to go with equally impressive defense, outscoring opponents by a combined 27-1 since the playoffs began. The Colts have found a number of sources to get the job done offensively and on Friday, it was a sophomore’s turn. Madison Hirsch scored two of Troy’s three goals against Grand Blanc, jump starting the Troy offense after a slow first half.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley went into the playoffs ranked as the state’s number eight team in Division IV. And for good reason. The Ventures haven’t allowed a goal since the opening round of the playoffs where the beat Royal Shrine 7-1. Throughout the playoffs Bishop Foley keeper, Rachel Fisher has stymied opponents having turned in four shutout performances, including her seven save shutout against Springport on Friday. The Ventures will face Saginaw Nouvel who beat Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes/Clarkston Everest Collegiate 3-0 in their regional final.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Regional Previews: Baseball and Softball

This Saturday, much like the last, will have plenty of excitement all over the map. Regional finals being played and teams looking to further advance in the state playoffs.

The match-up that we have all been waiting for over the course of the past week or so is the showdown between Walled Lake Northern and North Farmington. Two teams in the midst of memorable seasons filled with firsts will face of in the regional semifinals and likely will put the winner in the drivers seat for a spot in the state finals. This has pitcher’s duel written all over it, with a match-up between Northern’s Kristina Weltzin and North Farmington’s Katie Severson runs are going to be very hard to come by in this game.

Southfield Christian will have revenge on the mind on Saturday as they face-off with Allen Park Inter City Baptist. Allen Park beat the Eagles twice this season, but Southfield Christian will be heading into the regional round with quite a bit of momentum, winning their district semifinals and finals easily by a combined score of 16-0.

After pulling off an upset over Madison Heights Lamphere, Country Day is hoping they have a little bit more magic as they are set to face off with the state’s top team in Division II, St. Claire who have perhaps the state’s top pitcher. Yes, it’s a tough draw for the Yellowjackets, but in the playoff’s, anything is possible.

After mowing through the competition with ease in districts, Madison Heights Bishop Foley will have their first real test of the playoffs when they take on Allen Park Cabrini. The Ventures are the number one ranked team in division three for a reason, so expect them to move on as long as they don’t get caught looking ahead of a very good and proven Cabrini team.

Walled Lake Central may have beaten Novi Detroit Catholic Central the first time around (19-9), but expect this go around to be different. Much different. The Vikings still remain as one of the county’s top offensive teams, but Catholic Central will likely be pitching one of the area’s most impressive pitchers. Nathan Beck, who fanned 17 batters in a Catholic League game earlier this season. Both teams will still score runs, but not at the same rate they did earlier this season.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Youth Movement

In most years, teams feed off of their upperclassmen come playoff time, hoping that their veterans will be able to provide a calm influence on their team. This year, plenty of teams that still remain in the playoffs have gotten huge play out of the underclassmen.

Brother Rice‘s baseball squad, playing with nine freshman on it’s roster this year has advanced past districts and look like they could be in serious contention for the state title if they can make it out of a tough region. With freshman hurler Matt Rupenthal shutting down opposing hitters in most cases when he takes the mound and being able to turn around and swing the bat with the best, and with other freshman like Freddy Jehle and Bobby Cross among others, it lays a promising foundation for the Warriors moving forward.

Country Day’s girls soccer team has played like a senior laden team all season long, sporting a 20-5 record after their win in the regional semifinals. Take a look at their roster and you’ll find twice as many freshman (6) as you will seniors. With freshman players like Michelle Manning and Arlyn Reed who have stepped up constantly for the Yellowjackets as well as sophomore Leah Hill among countless others, not to mention junior keeper Rachel Bergman, who is considered one of the county's elite.

Madison Height’s Lamphere’s girls soccer team has had a memorable 2011 season, winning their first district in school history and much has been credited to their sophomore class. Sophomores Brianna Smith, Kelsey Madigan and Chelsea Thompson have provided plenty of playmaking and stability at the midfield and forward positions that have gone together nicely with senior standout Katelyn Krysiak.

With the play teams all over the county have gotten from their underclassmen this season, it’s going to be a lot of fun over the next couple of years watching these athletes become some of the best that the County has to offer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A look back on the District Playoffs

Possibly one of the most surprising games came in the first round of Districts when Rochester Adams knocked out one of the favorites to make it out of Regionals, Lake Orion. That wasn’t the only surprising outcome out of the Romeo district when in the finals Stoney Creek fell at the hands of the host team.

Going into the playoffs, Country Day seemed to be the trendy pick to pull off an upset over Madison Heights Lamphere. And it was for good reason. The Yellowjackets just barely outlasted the Rams 6-5 behind Wake Forest commit Conway, who is normally known for his hitting, but switched around and did his damage on the mound.

Heading into the Birmingham Groves district, it was almost a certainty that the finals would feature Brother Rice and Groves. Groves, going into the game was the hottest team in Oakland County, not losing a game since the early part of league play. A young Brother Rice team has found success all year long with consistency on the mound and in the field. That is exactly what helped the Warriors outlast Groves, 3-1.

Lakeland, one of the early favorites to make it to softball’s final four, as expected ran into Hartland in the district semifinals at Hartland, and that’s where the Eagle’s season ended. Lakeland ran into stellar pitching from Hartland’s Abbie Minsker who didn’t allow a single run. Minsker only allowed three hits by Lakeland and drove in the games only run ending Lakeland‘s streak of 6 straight district titles. Hartland went on to win the final.

After North Farmington won it’s first ever district title, it set up a must see showdown with Walled Lake Northern. The winner of this game could very well find themselves holding up the state title trophy when the dust has settled. Two teams that have been waiting a long time for this season and for good reason could very well be the best of the rest of the teams that remain in the playoffs.

In the Bloomfield Hills Lahser district, Madison Heights Lamphere took home their first district title in school history, but not before taking down Auburn Hills Avondale and Lahser. With the past success coming out of the Lahser district (five straight state finals appearance) things are looking pretty promising for Lamphere.

The goals just kept pouring in for Novi in their three games in districts, scoring a mind-boggling 22 goals in the three matches. You pair that with the top notch goalkeeping from Gabby Gauruder, and that puts the Wildcats into perfect position to repeat as state champs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Super Saturday: Preview

Most likely we’ll see Birmingham Groves and Birmingham Brother Rice take the field in tomorrow’s district final at Birmingham. This could be THE game to see if the match-up turns out that way. Groves seems unstoppable as of late, but a youthful Warriors squad is as good as any when they’re on their game.

At the Romeo district, the game to see most likely won’t be the finals, but the semifinal match-up of Rochester Adams and Stoney Creek. Adams, fresh off of an impressive win over Lake Orion, will be looking to knock off another one of the OAA Red’s elite from this season. The Cougars are one of the most pleasant surprises from this season and Adams took a while to put it together, but with a win over the Cougars, Adams just may find themselves in serious contention to make it to the state semi’s. The winner from this game will likely win the district final.

If everything goes as planned in the Clarkston district, the Wolves will likely take on Auburn Hills Avondale in a match-up that should have plenty of intrigue on a number of levels. We should see a display of two of the more balanced teams around and if they both end up in the finals, it should be an entertaining game at the very least.

While Madison Heights Lamphere is considered the favorite in their own district, Birmingham Detroit Country Day could pull of the upset, the Yellowjackets definitely have the arsenal to pull it off, if they can keep up with Lamphere offensively, the Rams could be in serious trouble if it's close when the game makes it into the late stages.

Much like the baseball side of things, Clarkston should be meeting Auburn Hills Avondale in the district final and it should be a low scoring affair, both teams have the pitching to limit each other at the plate and they both hold their own defensively.

The game to see is Lakeland and Hartland in the second semifinal at Hartland. Hartland is a team that does two things well, pitching and hitting, and another thing very well. Fielding. Lakeland still remains the favorite, but the Eagles cannot afford to make many mistakes if they are going to advance. Remember one thing, Lakeland is a true playoff team and that should not change in this match-up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Impressions

After taking down heavy favorite Lake Orion, Rochester Adams now has the look of a legit contender. After starting the season with plenty of expectations, the Highlanders had trouble putting it all together in the regular season. Now, with a big win over the Dragons, it seems as if Adams may have finally gotten over the hump at the perfect time. Their next game will be the ultimate tell if they can get past Stoney Creek. If they do advance, the Highlanders may find themselves as legitimate suitors to make it to the final four.

If Andrew Sohn and Co. can turn in pitching performances like the ace did on Tuesday, striking out an impressive 14 batters, Brothe Rice is going to do some serious damage over the next few weeks. Much like Adams, the Warriors will have their ultimate test in their next game as they will most likely face the states hottest team, Birmgham Groves, assuming they take care of a revamped Southfield-Lathrup team.

They may not play in the toughest division or conference, but Walled Lake Central sure can swing the bats. In any situation, this team comes through with plenty of clutch hits and one thing to remember about this team: They are disciplined at the plate and they proved just that against Walled Lake Western on Tuesday. If they can keep hitting the ball as well as they are, they may be a team to be reckoned with in the near future.

The Auburn Hills Avondale girls soccer team may have passed the toughest test they’ll have for the rest of the season, knocking off last year’s division 2 state champ, Birmingham Marian. It’ll be interesting to see how far this Yellowjackets team will advance.