Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Girls Basketball Preview - Top Players to Keep an eye on this season

Top 15 Players in Oakland County
1. Aerial Powers - Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Powers is one of, if not the state’s best interior player, both offensively and defensively. Can hit the open shots while also being able to do the dirty work and draw fouls. Defensively, good luck trying to score against her, as she is one of the premier shot blockers around.

2. Jasmine Harris - North Farmington
Harris can do just about everything for the Raiders, she can score, pass and rebound with the best and is also one of the top defenders in the county. Harris has signed to play at Umass.

3. Sinclair Russell - Troy Athens
Russell is one of the best inside-out threats in the county. Not only can she score, 23 points per game last year, but she is one of the top rebounders in the state, as she averaged 13 boards per game last season. Russell has signed to play for Oakland next season.

4. Gabby Yurik - Stoney Creek
Yurik is a sniper from 3-point land, but is more than capable of scoring down low as well and has been a nightmare for opposing teams on a year-in year-out basis.

5. Karin Moss - Troy
Moss is a wizard with the ball, particularly passing the ball, but her ability to score is what really separates her from the rest of the field. Moss has signed with Buffalo for next season.

6. Hannah Little - Auburn Hills Avondale
Little is one of the top defensive players in Oakland County, with her ability to block shots down low as well as defend on the perimeter. Little has signed to play for St. Bonaventure

7. Amber Deane - Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Dean is the definition of a true playmaker in the open floor and defensively she can guard just about anybody on the floor.

8. Eman Hubbard - Farmington Hills Harrison
Another on of the multi-talented players from the county that can both score and rebound as Hubbard was a double-double machine last season and should be key for the Hawks once she returns from injury this season. Hubbard has signed with the University of Detroit Mercy.

9. Carlee Cottrell - Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
Cotrell, much like Yurik, can knock down shots from just about anywhere on the court and her ability to stretch defenses will make her and the Lakers all the more dangerous this season. Cotrell has signed with Indiana Wesleyan

10. Sami Stormont - Royal Oak
Arguable the County’s top junior, Stormont is a menace on offense, scoring nearly 20 points per game last season while piling up the assists as well.

11. Allison Bicknell - Waterford Kettering
Very good on both ends of the court, can score in bunches but can also be a shutdown defenders throughout the game.

12. Lexie Robak - Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
Can score from almost anywhere on the court, and can pass the ball with the best in the county which makes her one of the more dangerous offensive threats in Oakland County

13. Sydnie Davis - West Bloomfield
Davis, another talented junior, can score in a number of ways, whether it be driving the lane or pulling up for a jumper, she can flat out score and is a top notch defender as well.

14. Delaney Kenny - Clarkston
Did just about everything for Clarkston last season, whether it was scoring, rebounding or passing, she did it, and you can expect much of the same this season.

15. Torri Duffy - Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
A transfer from Walled Lake Central, should be a premier scorer for the Lakers this season and is yet another weapon that makes them as dangerous as ever. Duffy has committed to New Hampshire.

10 Players who could have a breakout season
1. Shannon Wilson (So.) Bloomfield Hills Andover
2. Sabria Cotton (Jr.) Troy
3. Candace Leatherwood (So.) Farmington Hills Mercy
4. Alyssa Copley (So.) Holly
5. Ava Doetsch (Jr.) Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes
6. Kerri McMahon (So.) Novi
7. Sydney Heath (So.) Troy
8 .Lauren Hung  (So.) Waterford Mott
9. Aaron Howell (Jr.) Farmington
10. Sarah Lewallen (So.) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rapid Reaction - State Finals Recap

A quick look back at the weekend's three games that featured Oakland County teams

Brother Rice 24, Lowell 14
Offensive MVP: Devin Church, RB, Brother Rice
With the type of playoff run Church has had, Northern Illinois has to be thrilled to be getting the senior running back next season as the state’s top running back in the playoffs saved his best for last. Church ran wild on Lowell piling up 244 yards and three touchdowns becoming the single season record holder at Brother Rice for rushing yards in a season.
Defensive MVP: Sergio Perkovic, LB, Brother Rice & Eddie Kidd, CB, Brother Rice
Perkovic was a menace all game long for the Warriors, constantly harassing Lowell quarterback Gabe Dean, as Perkovic picked up three sacks on the day. Kidd shutdown Red Arrow receivers all game long, as the senior corner picked off two passes, one which led to a touchdown for the Warriors.
Recap: This game was the closest of the weekend, but in reality, this game wasn’t all that close as the Warriors were in control of every aspect of the game. Offensively, it was the Devin Church show, breaking off big run after big run and wearing down the Lowell defense more and more, while it looked like he was getting stronger with every carry. Defensively, the Warriors did what few other have done, they stopped the complex Lowell offense and forced the Red Arrows into 3rd and long situations all game long.

Cass Tech 49, Catholic Central 13
Offensive MVP: Jayru Campbell, QB, Cass Tech
Campbell, only a freshman, played like he was one of the state’s top seniors on Saturday, picking apart a stout Catholic Central defense for 240 and a Division 1 record five touchdowns while completing 13-of-20 passes on the day.
Defensive MVP: Royce Jenkins-Stone, DB/WR, Cass Tech
Jenkins-Stone, committed to Michigan, shutdown the Catholic Central passing game when the Shamrocks needed it most and later put the icing on the cake for the Technicians with a 36 yard pick-6 to finish the scoring for Cass Tech.
Recap: Speed kills, and the Shamrocks learned that early and often on Saturday as the athletes for Cass Tech overwhelmed Catholic Central from the start, handing the Shamrocks their worst loss in 40 years. After an embarrassing season opening loss to Farmington Hills Harrison, not many thought the Technicians would have made it to Ford Field, but Cass Tech finished on the right side of a blowout this time around.

Saint Mary’s 45, Mount Pleasant 7
Offensive MVP: The OLSM offensive line
There’s really only one word that explains just how good they were in this game: Dominant. The Eaglet O-Line paved the way for well over 400 yards of rushing on the day. The Eaglets broke off runs of 37, 42, 60 and 69 for touchdowns to put the game out of reach early on in the third quarter, thanks in large part to outstanding blocking from the line.
Defensive MVP: James Ross, LB, OLSM & David Talley LB, OLSM
Ross, Tally and the entire OLSM line backing core, stopped the Mount Pleasant defense dead in its tracks all game long, keeping the Oilers’ offensive gains to a minimum and setting the offense up with good field position throughout much of the game.
Recap: It’s been a long time coming, but Saint Mary’s grabbed their first state title since 2000 after years of falling just short in the state title game, and the Eaglets followed capped off a weekend filled with blowouts with a blowout of their own. The run game for the Eaglets was as impressive as it gets, as the trio of Spencer McInnis, Parker McInnis and Grant Niemiec as well as linebacker James Ross nearly totaled 500 yards on the ground. The defense was their usual selves, shutting down the Oilers from start to finish.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Football State Finals Predictions

Friday at 1:00
Birmingham Brother Rice vs. Lowell
Not many thought Birmingham Brother Rice would be here after they started the season at 5-4 and yet, they’re one win away from picking up their first state title since 2005. Lowell, snuck into this game as they avoided the upset in overtime with a win over Walled Lake Western. Brother Rice has been one of the best running teams in the state this year, behind Northern Illinois commit Devin Church and sophomore sensation Brian Walker as well as DeShun Brown. Defensively, the Warriors have quietly put together quite a run, only allowing 47 points in the playoffs including just seven to the defending state champion Farmington Hills Harrison.
X-Factor: Quarterbacks Nick Rao and Cheyne Lacanaria. Walled Lake Western was able to throw for almost 350 yards and four touchdowns last week against Lowell. If the Warriors can take a few shots to the passing game with Rao and Lacanaria, that may prove to be the difference in this one. Look for receiver Travis Ferguson to have a huge game if the Warriors go to the air on Friday.
Key for Brother Rice: It’s the same for anyone who played Lowell this year. Stop senior quarterback Gabe Dean. He’s capable of moving the ball with his legs or his arm, which has made him arguably the most dangerous player in the state over the past three seasons. If Brother Rice can slow him down, they’ll likely be raising the state title on Friday.
Prediction: Brother Rice 28 Lowell 24

Saturday at 1:00
Novi Detroit Catholic Central vs. Cass Tech
It’s been all about defense this year for the Shamrocks the run defense is second to none, and the pass defense has been as good as any all season long. This game is going to be a slugfest on defense, as the Technicians have only allowed 16 points in their four playoff games, and the Shamrock’s have allowed just 40 points. The Shamrock’s have gotten it done with the running game, but the threat of the passing game has been there this year, as it clinched the Shamrock’s return to Ford Field last week as Kyle Cooper hooked up with Anthony Darkangelo in overtime to beat Rockford. You might see that connection again on Saturday as the Shamrocks look to bring home state title #12.
X-Factor: David Houle, who has been seeing some more time on the field with Wyatt Shallman out of the lineup and has been sneaky good all season long. The Shamrocks have very good offensive threats in Cooper, Darkangelo and tight end Matt Doneth as well, but if they can get Houle going early and often, eventually Catholic Central will be able to hit a big play.
Key for Catholic Central: Keep the Cass Tech defense guessing. Mix up the run game with some short passes and keep the Technicians off balance, they are as good as any on defense, but if the Shamrocks can catch them off guard a time or two, it could be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Catholic Central 14 Cass Tech 8

Saturday at 7:30
Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s vs. Mount Pleasant
Well, this is probably not the match-up that every one at Saint Mary’s was hoping for, as many likely wanted one last shot at knocking off East Grand Rapids. But Mount Pleasant, down 24-0 to EGR early used their high octane offense to get back in the game and then pull off the shocker. Has been able to get the job done behind some old-school football, running the ball and play great defense, Mount Pleasant has done it with its quick strike offense which is averaging nearly 40 points per game this season. But the Saint Mary’s defense has dominated all season long, and I expect the Eaglets to lift the state title behind another solid defensive performance.
X-Factor: It’s going to be the offensive line for the Eaglets who have dominant for much of the season, paving the way for running backs Grant Niemiec and Spencer McInnis all year long. The Saint Mary’s offense has scored 181 points in the playoffs, behind the O-Line.
Key for Saint Mary’s: Slow down the Mount Pleasant offense by limiting the big plays on defense, Mount Pleasant can score in the blink of an eye with the big plays.
Prediction: OLSM 28, Mt. Pleasant 21

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rapid Reaction - Next Stop: Ford Field

Catholic Central is well known for their ability to run the ball and their willingness to do just that repeatedly. But what got the job done on Saturday for the Shamrocks was the passing game. Senior quarterback Kyle Cooper connected with tight end Matt Doneth for the first score for Catholic Central and then hooked up with running back Anthony Darkangelo for the winning score in overtime to send the Shamrock’s to Ford Field with a 23-20 win over Rockford. Catholic Central will move on to face Cass Tech next weekend in the Division 1 state finals.

Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s found themselves in a tough spot on Saturday, down three points to unbeaten Battle Creek Harper Creek, the Eaglets went to their go-to-guy with Grant Niemiec finding the end zone with less than a minute to go to secure a spot for the Eagles in the Division 3 title game. Niemiec rushed for 145 yards and both OLSM touchdown’s on 22 carries, leading the Eaglets to a 14-10 win. It’s going to be a strange sight for the Eaglets next weekend in the state championship game. It’s going to be their fourth straight shot at winning the state title, but there will be once difference… East Grand Rapids won’t be on the other sideline as Mount Pleasant stayed perfect in its narrow win over EGR.

Birmingham Brother Rice got out to a quick 21-0 lead and then held on to beat Detroit Martin Luther King in a battle of two of the best running backs in the state. Brother Rice’s Devin Church got the better of MLK’s Dennis Norfleet, rushing for 215 yards and a score as the Warriors escaped with a 28-27 win after stopping MLK on a two-point try to take the lead. Brother Rice moves on to play Lowell in the Division 2 title game.

Walled Lake Western sophomore quarterback and kicker, Kyle Bambard is about as clutch as they come. As time expired in regulation, the “Super Soph” drilled a 48-yard field goal to force overtime. 48 yards with plenty of leg left to spare. Bambard also completed 21-of-36 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns on the day for the Warriors… Reminder: Bambard is only a sophomore. Bambard’s top target Cam Vieaux made nine catches on the day for 155 yards. However, the Warriors came up just short in overtime as Lowell will move on to Ford Field for the third consecutive season.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Football State Semifinals Predictions

Novi Detroit Catholic Central vs. Rockford
A match-up of the 2008 state champs (Rockford) and the 2009 state title holder (Catholic Central), which should make for the best game of the weekend. Both offenses like to line up and run the ball, and both do an excellent job at stopping the run. The tiebreaker here is going to be the passing game, and if that’s the case, I give the edge to Catholic Central and quarterback Kyle Cooper, who is capable of dumping the ball off short or throwing the long ball. If Catholic Central can slow the high powered Rockford offense, it’s going to be the Shamrocks heading back to Ford Field.
Catholic Central 14 Rockford 10

Birmingham Brother Rice vs. Detroit Martin Luther King
A game that features two of the top running backs that the state of Michigan has to offer in Brother Rice’s Devin Church and King’s Dennis Norfleet. If Brother Rice is going to win this game, they will need to give King a big dose Church and sophomore sensation Brian Walker. On the flip side, it’s unlikely that Rice will completely shutdown Norfleet, but the Warriors will need to limit him in both the run game as well as in the receiving game if they are going to punch their ticket to Ford Field.
Brother Rice 31 King 21

Walled Lake Western vs. Lowell
The Warriors have been playing some of the best defense in the state during their playoff run which includes allowing just 10 points in regulation over the past two weeks, but the Warriors will face by far their toughest challenge on Saturday. Arguably the best offense in the state versus arguably the hottest defense in the playoffs to this point? It’s going to be an interesting battle to see who comes out on top. This is the third consecutive year that the Red Arrows have been to the state semifinals, including a state title in 2009, so that gives Lowell the slight edge on Saturday.
Lowell 17 Western 14 in OT

Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s vs. Battle Creek Harper Creek
Harper Creek has a perfect 12-0 record for good reason, but they’re just not on the same level as the Eaglets. If Saint Mary’s can keep to the game plan of giving the ball to running backs Spencer McInnis and Grant Niemeic, a return to Ford Field is all but certain. Offensively, the Eaglets have been unstoppable in just about everyway possible as they have racked up 167 points in three games in the postseason, but one thing that has been overlooked throughout the postseason has been the Eaglet defense which has allowed just 33 points in the playoffs.
OLSM 42, Harper Creek 21

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Keys for Oakland County teams on Saturday

Keys for Walled Lake Western:
1.  It’s pretty simple actually… Stop Gabe Dean and the Lowell offense, and the Warriors will likely be playing for their third state title. That’s easier said than done. It hasn’t been done a whole lot before in the three years that Dean has been the starting quarterback, as the Red Arrows have had back-to-back appearances in the state finals which came with a state title in 2009.
2. Offensively, the Warriors will need to rely heavily on the three headed monster of Brent Zdebski, Connor Ruby and Alex Buchanan to run the ball and do it effectively, if they can succeed with that, the Warriors will find themselves in a battle with the Red Arrows.

Keys for Catholic Central:
1. No surprise here but the Shamrocks just need to keep playing their defense, if they can shut down the Rockford rushing attack that is capable of breaking a long run at any point, then Catholic Central will be well on their way to raising another state title.
2. The passing attack might come in handy for the Shamrocks on Saturday, if Catholic Central finds itself falling behind, coming from behind isn’t out of the question with quarterback Kyle Cooper and tight end Matt Doneth making up a solid connection all season long

Keys for Brother Rice:
1. Run the ball and stop the run. The number one reason as to why the Warriors are one win away from Ford Field is the rushing attack behind senior Devin Church and sophomore Brian Walker. On the flip side, Detroit Martin Luther King has a dynamic running back of their own in Dennis Norfleet who can break off a big run at any time. If Brother Rice can shut Norfleet down, the Warriors will be moving on to the state finals.
2. The kicking game has been a bit of an issue all season long for the Warriors, but Jason Alessi seems to have fixed those problems and that will likely come up at some point on Saturday.

Keys for Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s:
1. Don’t look ahead. The Eagles have been mowing down opponents in the playoffs easily, and this is the spot where teams could get ahead of themselves and not have their full attention on the team in front of them. I doubt that this would happen to Saint Mary’s, but they need to be cautious in this spot.
2. Keep going to thunder and lightning. The tandem of Spencer McInnis and Grant Niemeic has been unstoppable this season, and I don’t think anything is going to change this weekend. It seems as if the two continue to get stronger with every game and that bodes well for the Eaglets on Saturday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rapid Reaction - 2 to Go

It’s becoming an every week occurrence with the two headed monster that Saint Mary’s Grant Niemeic and Spencer McInnis have just been dominant coming out of the OLSM backfield. On Saturday, McInnis only had 13 carries, but made an impact on just about every one, rushing for 164 yards and three touchdowns. Niemeic was his usual self as well, taking 19 carries and rushing for 122 yard for the Eaglets in their drubbing of Linden.

Just how good is the Catholic Central defense? With the state’s top rusher in Drake Johnson, who has rushed for 2,800 yards this season, and Ann Arbor Pioneer visiting Shamrock’s on Saturday, some looked at this a test for the Catholic Central defense. The result? The Shamrock’s passed with flying colors, holding the Michigan bound Johnson to 48 yards rushing and not allowing the Pioneer offense past the 50 yard line.

Devin Church has definitely saved his best for last. The senior running back has been unstoppable in the playoffs, and did much of the same on Saturday against a very stout Southfield defense. Church, on the second play of the game, Church bolted 55 yards for the first score of the game. The Northern Illinois bound Church picked up 154 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, to lead Brother Rice to a 16-6 win over Southfield.

Southfield’s Leviticus Payne and Brandon Watkins just might be the most exciting duo in Oakland County this season. Payne picked up 123 yards on seven carries including 51 yards on one of the most electrifying touchdown runs you’ll see all year, braking and spinning out of tackles down the sideline. Watkins rushed for 83 yards of his own on 18 carries and was just inches away from breaking free for a big time run on several occasions.

On Friday night, Walled Lake Western defensive lineman Jason Gamble just could not be stopped by the Port Huron offensive line. Gamble picked up two sacks and a forced fumble, but the stat sheet didn’t tell the whole story as the senior was constantly in the face of the Port Huron quarterback and blowing up just about any runs that went his way. Gamble, heading to Central Michigan to play baseball, and the Western defense kept a very dangerous Port Huron offense to just seven points and less than 150 total yards in regulation in the Warriors exciting 2OT win.

When Walled Lake Central fell to Utica Eisenhower on Friday night, it marked the end of a spectacular playoff run, as the Vikings upset both Lake Orion and Clarkston en route to a district title. With senior quarterback Zac Leimbach and K.J. Schultz headlining the Central senior class that made it to back-to-back regional final appearances and a semifinal last year, the Vikings have proved their fair share of doubters wrong.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Regional Finals Football Picks

Last Week's Record: 5-5         Season Record: 139-53

Walled Lake Central at Utica Eisenhower
Key for Central: 
The Vikings need to get their three headed monster of Zac Leimbach, K.J. Schultz and Curtis Booth going early and often as they have in their first two playoff games to this point. If Central can have success on offense, there defense is more than capable of stopping Eisenhower.
If the Vikings can play the way they have to this point of the playoffs, there are very few teams that can beat them. The Eisenhower defense is one of the best in the state, but Central has had a ton of success running their triple option. The difference in this game will come down to the Vikings defense.
Central 17 Eisenhower 14

Walled Lake Western at Port Huron
Key for Western: 
After Port Huron snuck out a win over Rochester Adams last week after Adams shot itself in the foot because of turnovers and penalties, it’s obvious what Western has to do to pick up the win. Control the ball and avoid turnovers.
Western sophomore quarterback Kyle Bambard has grown into the starting quarterback role very nicely over the past couple of weeks and he’s making the Western offense even more dangerous. But the if the Warriors defense can dominate much like they did against South Lyon last week, Western should make it into the state semifinals.
Western 24 Port Huron 17

Linden at Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s
Key for OLSM: 
Just continue to play as they have all season long. The Eaglets defense has been flat out dominant all year long and should continue to do so for the rest of the season.
With each passing week, the Eaglets are looking more and more unbeatable and I think they are as good of a bet as any to be in the state finals in three weeks. The OLSM rushing attack has looked rock solid behind its bruising offensive line. There isn’t much not to like about the Eaglets at this point.
OLSM 42 Linden 21

Birmingham Brother Rice at Southfield
Key for Brother Rice: 
Pound the rock. It’s that simple, the Warriors’ O-Line dominated the line of scrimmage against Farmington Hills Harrison. Pair that with the stellar play from running backs Devin Church (Northern Illinois) and Brian Walker, the Warriors had the look of a state title team.
Key for Southfield:
Allow the offensive playmakers to make plays. With recent Syracuse commit Ron Thompson, Brandon Watkins, and Leviticus Payne (Cincinnati) all capable of scoring on any given play, if quarterback Justin Danzy can get the ball in their hands, this game will be close. Danzy has been the X-factor for the Warriors all season long, with very good decision making and athleticism.
Brother Rice is coming off an emotional win, and at times teams can stumble a bit after games such as that. But I think at this point of the season, the Warriors know just how close they are to making it to Ford Field and they just won’t let that slip away from them.
Brother Rice 28 Southfield 24

Ann Arbor Pioneer at Novi Detroit Catholic Central
Key for Catholic Central:
Stop Pioneer running back and U-M commit Drake Johnson. Johnson will get the vast majority of the carries and is a home run hitter when the ball is in his hands. If they can shut down Johnson and the Pioneer offense, Catholic Central will be on to the state semifinals once again.
Catholic Central quarterback Kyle Cooper has given the Shamrock offense a new element, which in turn has opened things up for the offense throughout this season. Defensively, with Michigan commit Matt Godin the Shamrock’s shouldn’t have much trouble controlling the line of scrimmage which will, in turn, throw a wrench in the plans for Pioneers
Catholic Central 35 Pioneer 17

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rapid Reaction - Blowouts in Upset City (w/ soccer state finals reaction as well)

An upset that was a blowout, and also became the most impressive win of the weekend was Walled Lake Central’s 45-26 shellacking of Clarkston. Senior running back K.J. Schultz had over 100 yards rushing and receiving as well as two touchdowns for the Vikings. It’s not often that you hear a performance by any team as “perfect” multiple times, but that’s how it was described time after time by those in attendance on Friday night. If the Vikings continue to play like they did on Friday night, they could be playing for a while longer.

Regardless of who’s playing quarterback for Harrison, it’s not easy to hold the Hawks to just seven points in a game. But that’s exactly what Brother Rice did to the Hawks who were without senior quarterback Jake Vento. But the real story in this game has to be the fact that the Warriors won in blowout fashion, hanging 30 on the Hawks with a balanced attack. If the Warriors can duplicate that performance the rest of the way, there’s no doubt that they will be holding up another state championship trophy at the end of the month

Catholic Central is known to be a run first team under head coach Tom Mach, but with senior signal caller Kyle Cooper, the Shamrocks can open the playbook a bit more. On Saturday Cooper completed two HUGE passes; one for a 62 yard touchdown and the other for 20 yards on fourth down which led to the go-ahead touchdown just a couple of plays later.

Most know about Southfield’s big three of Brandon Watkins, Ron Thompson and Leviticus Payne, but the X-Factor for the Bluejays this season has to be quarterback Justin Danzy, who has been outstanding for Southfield this season. Danzy came up big once again on Saturday in Southfield’s win over Farmington as the senior gunslinger completed 16-of-20 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.

Saint Mary’s was yet another team to put together an impressive performance in round 2, putting up 62 points and holding 9-1 host Redford Thurston to just 20 points. One of my favorite backfield duo’s struck once again on Friday night as Grant Niemeic and Spencer McInnis both went well over the 100-yard mark as OLSM looks like they’re going to roll into the state finals.

It might not have been pretty, but Walled Lake Western ignored all of the controversy yet again as the Warriors topped South Lyon 3-0, behind a 47-yard field goal by sophomore quarterback/kicker Kyle Bambard. The Warriors will have their biggest test yet next week against Port Huron.

A tough loss for Rochester Adams as the Highlanders took an early 14-0 lead, but couldn’t hold off Port Huron in the second half. The loss unfortunately brings an end to the Tony Annese era at Adams as he will be heading to Central Michigan. But as long as Tony Patrito is coaching Adams, the Highlanders will be contenders on a year in, year out basis.

Tough losses for Madison Heights Madison, Royal Oak Shrine and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. Each facing the top teams in their respective divisions. Notre Dame Prep went shorthanded due to injuries to face top ranked Marine City, while Shrine went on to face Detroit Loyola who has been dominant all year long, and shutout Shrine for the second time in three weeks. Madison seemed to be coming into their own at the right time, but just couldn’t hold on against Ecorse. The good news however is that for all three teams, there will be a handful of starters returning  next year, and I think it’s safe to say that all three will be playing at this time next year.

We can’t forget about the soccer state finals from today. You have to give all of the credit in the world to Birmingham Detroit Country Day team. With legendary head coach Paul Bartoshuk missing the season and in the hospital because of illness. With Country Day’s girls head coach Bob Bukari filling in on an interim basis this year, the Yellowjackets took home the Division 3 state title. A truly inspiring story that came full circle on Saturday, as Country Day picked up state title NO. 14 for their coach.

Auburn Hills Avondale’s Skyler Russ has been as good as it gets in crunch time. Kicking the clincher in the semifinals over Andover, and he follows that up with the game winner in the state finals game with under two minutes left in regulation on Saturday. And those two goals are his only two goals from this season. Best word to describe the two games by Russ: CLUTCH.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week 2 Football Playoff Picks

Last Week's Record: 14-6   Season Record: 134-48

Walled Lake Central at Clarkston
Central had a very impressive upset over Lake Orion, on the flip side, the Wolves had a very convincing win over Pontiac last week. Central will challenge Clarkston, but the Wolves have only lost one game on the field this season.
Clarkston 34 Central 31 in OT

Plymouth Canton at Novi Detroit Catholic Central
The winner of this game has as good of a chance as any to be playing in the state final at Ford Field. Catholic Central was impressive in their blowout win over Northville, and if they can get out to an early lead over Canton, I think the Shamrocks will be able to close out a win with the run game and defense.
Catholic Central 35 Canton 24

South Lyon at Walled Lake Western
The Warriors seemed to play without distractions last week in their win over Milford, and with the return of the five suspended players, Western should be back at full strength on Friday night, and that’s not good news for South Lyon.
Western 42 South Lyon 27

Rochester Adams at Port Huron
Adams quarterback Tony Anesse put on a show last week in the Highlanders’ round one win over Oxford. If Anesse as well as the Highlanders defense can put together performances like that throughout the rest of the postseason, Adams could go a very long way in the playoffs.
Adams 38 Port Huron 28

Birmingham Brother Rice at Farmington Hills Harrison
Harrison defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia will be sitting out in the first half in this game, and with a force like him out of the lineup, it may give the Warriors an opening to get their potent run game going. If that’s the case, Harrison may be getting a run for their money. Harrison might have the most talented team the county has had in the past 10 seasons, so they should be able to edge out a Brother Rice team that has memories of a heartbreaking loss from last season.
Harrison 38 Brother Rice 35 in 2OT

Farmington at Southfield
Farmington looks like a reenergized team after sneaking into the playoffs after their beat down of Detroit Henry Ford last week. However, Southfield’s talent is too great to overlook as the Blue Jays will be looking forward to perhaps getting a chance at revenge against Harrison next week.
Southfield 28 Farmington 21

Redford Thurston at Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s
The only team that can beat Saint Mary’s at this point, is… Well, Saint Mary’s. Their defense has been dominant and their offense has been effective enough to get the job done. Saint Mary’s looks driven to finally get their hands on the Division 3 title this year.
OLSM 42 Thurston 20

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep at Marine City
Notre Dame Prep fell victim to the injury bug at the worst time possible, with a showdown with the number 1 ranked Marine City. However, I’m still going to go with the upset, Notre Dame Prep’s defense has been dominant all season long, and I think it’ll carry them to a win in round two.
Notre Dame Prep 13 Marine City 10

Ecorse at Madison Heights Madison
Madison made quite a statement in their round one win, with the help of freshman Juan Johnson. I can’t help but to expect more of the same throughout the playoffs for Madison, way too much talent for Ecorse to handle this week.
Madison 31 Ecorse 14

Royal Oak Shrine at Detroit Loyola
Two teams that are meeting for the second time in three weeks, and unfortunately for Shrine, round two won’t be much different. Loyola is rolling right now, and there’s not much that can stop these guys at this point. It will be closer than the score was three weeks ago, but Loyola will likely take this once by a couple of scores.
Loyola 28 Shrine 17