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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Congrats to Novi coach Bob Smith

I want to send out a big congratulations to Novi boys cross country coach Bob Smith. He was recently inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Cross Country Hall of Fame.
Truthfully, there is not a more deserving person to receive this honor. In all of my 16 years of covering high school sports - at five different newspapers - Bob is probably the coach I have enjoyed working with the most. Upon taking just my second job out of college - at the Novi News and Northville Record - he welcomed this (at the time) young reporter into the great world of running. Not a runner myself, he shared his knowledge of the sport with me. I learned a lot about cross country running and thoroughly enjoyed spending time covering the sport.
Novi boys cross country coach Bob Smith
was recently inducted into the MITCA
Hall of Fame.
That first Wildcat team I covered did not make it to the state finals in 1997. But it's best runner, Kevin Avenius, did. And he finished fourth, just three seconds behind the state champion. His teammates took notes. A year later, everyone returned and the team went to Michigan International Speedway and captured a state championship, beating a heavily favored Rockford team that featured two of the best runners to ever come through the state of Michigan - one of which was Dathan Ritzenhein (the best runner I've ever seen in person).
Kevin Avenius, fellow seniors Dan Christopherson and Mike Burns, and a young and talented crew that would go on to leave their legacy with the school - Chris Toloff, Mark Avenius, Eric Walle and Tim Moore - pulled off a shocker. I remember the excitement of following coach Smith around as he and his assistants and parents counted the points. I saw the excitement in his face when he had it all figured out. I shook his hand.
And then the sheer joy that followed as everyone celebrated the first state cross country championship in school history - that was great to be a part of. 
It was at that point that I truly enjoyed covering high school cross country. Though I've not covered the sport much since leaving Novi - Marvin Goodwin is our cross country guru here at The Oakland Press - some of my fondest memories as a sports reporter came during my time covering sports in Novi. 
So again, congratulations to Bob - and the entire Novi running community. You've got a special coach there. 

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Friday, November 23, 2012

If Al Fracassa retires, it would be the perfect time

Passion has no boundaries. It's hard for us mere mortals to understand how hard it is for a longtime football coach to step away from the sport that has come to define them in the athletic arena. But, if anyone read through the lines of Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa's post-game press conference Friday afternoon after his team's 35-28 win over Muskegon, you know it's the perfect time for the state's all-time winningest coach to sail off into the sunset.
He said as much himself.
“Football has done so much for me,” Fracassa said when asked indirectly about his future. “It got me a scholarship at Michigan State. I played football, baseball and basketball in high school. Sports mean a lot to me and I’d like to give it back. If I could coach in some capacity, if the good Lord gives me good health, I’d like to maybe help somebody out.”
I don't want to be the one to speculate on who would replace Fracassa, but Dave Sofran's name keeps popping up in rumor circles. He's the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, has been on the coaching staff since 2000 and is a 1996 Rice grad. I'd say those are the perfect credentials to warrant taking over for a legend.
But back to Fracassa. He's won more games (416) than any other head coach in the history of high school football in Michigan. And he's won eight state championships (1977, 1980, 1983, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2011 and 2012). As you can see, his last two were the first back-to-back titles in his 44 years coaching. And he just turned 80 years old this past year.
So the timing couldn't be more perfect. He's a great man, a great leader. He'd be leaving his team in good hands. And he'd be leaving his successor a talented group of boys for 2013. His passion has not died. He's just ready to ignite it in the next coach of the Warriors.

And this weekend's football champions will be ...

Kosmo's made his picks. Scott Burnstein and Keith Dunlap have made theirs.
Burnstein and Dunlap are predicting an Oakland County sweep of its four state title games. And the way Catholic Central, Brother Rice, St. Mary's and Country Day are playing, who could argue?
On paper, Catholic Central and Brother Rice very well may be underdogs. St. Mary's and Country Day should be favorites. But in the end, all four teams will have to play 48 solid minutes of football to have a chance to hoist state championship trophies.
Here are my predictions for Friday and Saturday's games (click on the blue links for the game previews):

Detroit Catholic Central (9-4) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (11-2) - I'm fighting my inner urge to pick Detroit Cass Tech in this game. And I don't think it has anything to do with last year's 49-13 loss to the Technicians in this same game. CC's record is deceiving. Its losses came to the Nos. 1 and 3 teams in Ohio (Whitmer and Moeller) and two of the best in Michigan (St. Mary's and Brother Rice), who are also playing for state titles this weekend. I see the Shamrocks continuing to play well in their role as an "underdog" - CATHOLIC CENTRAL 27, CASS TECH 20

Birmingham Brother Rice (11-2) vs. Muskegon (12-1) - One of these two teams have spent the majority of their seasons ranked No. 1 in the Division 2 poll. And many predicted this Final a long time ago. This game is a lot like the Division 1 matchup. Rice has more losses, but they came to superior competition (Cass Tech and St. Mary's). The Warriors have steamrolled through the playoffs. I see them winning on Friday - though it could very easily go the other way - BROTHER RICE 23, MUSKEGON 17

Grand Rapids Christian (12-1) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (11-2) - For most of the year, I really felt St. Mary's was the best team in the entire state. I'm not backing down from that. But I will say after looking at Grand Rapids Christian's body of work, it's easy to understand why this may be the best state final played this weekend at Ford Field. The Eagles beat Division 4 finalist Grand Rapids South Christian. They beat Lowell in the playoffs. And they played Cincinnati Moeller (see above) to a 42-34 game - their only loss. This one's going to be a good one, a close one - ST. MARY'S 30, GRAND RAPIDS CHRISTIAN 27

Grand Rapids South Christian (10-3) vs. Detroit Country Day (11-2) - I actually thought this might be the easiest game to predict. Now I find it the most difficult. I don't know much about South Christian's schedule. But one thing I do know is that they played Grand Rapids Christian (see above) very tough, in a 38-28 loss. I don't know if Country Day is playing exceedingly well, or if it hasn't been challenged in these playoffs. Something tells me that might be the difference in this one - SOUTH CHRISTIAN 23, COUNTRY DAY 20


And, just for fun, here are the rest of the divisions:
DIVISION 5: Grand Rapids West Catholic 20, Portland 14
DIVISION 6: Ithaca 38, Constantine 13
DIVISION 7: Detroit Loyola 34, Ishpeming 10
DIVISION 8: Beal City 27, Harbor Beach 13

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chances are good for multiple state football champs from county

The numbers don't lie. At least they don't when you're talking Oakland County football teams playing in the state championship game. Since the state went to the eight division format in 1999:
  • Oakland County has sent three or more teams to the Finals four times. In each of those four seasons, at least two of those teams walked off the field as champions.
  • This year's four finalists is the most since 1999, when the county sent five teams to the Silverdome (Walled Lake Western in Division 1, Brother Rice in Division 2, Farmington Hills Harrison in Division 3, St. Mary's in Division 4 and Detroit Country Day in Division 5)
  • Four of those 1999 teams - Walled Lake Western, Harrison, St. Mary's and Country Day - won state titles.
  • Harrison is 4-1 in championship games, winning titles in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2010. Brother Rice (3-3) and St. Mary's (3-5) have also won multiple state championships.
  • The Catholic League Central Division is sending three teams to the state finals for the second-straight year (Catholic Central, Brother Rice and St. Mary's).
  • Oakland County teams are 16-14 in championship game appearances. Along with the multiple titles won by Harrison, Rice and St. Mary's, each of the following teams have won one state championship: Catholic Central, Country Day, Lake Orion, Western, Rochester Adams and Our Lady of the Lakes.
  • In the last 13 seasons of the divisional format, county teams have won a title nine times. The seasons in which no county team has won a title: 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
  • The county is looking to add to the five state titles its won over the last three years (2009-11). Lake Orion, Catholic Central, Brother Rice, Harrison and St. Mary's have all won titles since 2009.
  • The county has had nine finalists over the past 13 seasons in Division 2, eight in Division 3, five in Division 1, five in Division 4, two in Division 5 and one in Division 8.
Team records in championship games since 1999:
Farmington Hills Harrison 4-1
Birmingham Brother Rice 3-3
OL St. Mary's 3-5
Walled Lake Western 1-0
Rochester Adams 1-0
Our Lady of the Lakes 1-0
Lake Orion 1-1
Novi Detroit Catholic Central 1-1*
Country Day 1-2
Madison 0-1

* Detroit Catholic Central moved into Oakland County (Novi) in the fall of 2005. The team won three-straight state titles from 2001-03 while located in Redford.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Impressive showing by Oakland County

I've got to say, I don't think anyone here on our staff thought Oakland County would have four teams playing at Ford Field next weekend. Sure the talent is always there. But quite often geography is the biggest obstacle for the county's teams.
But just like last year, the teams that had to go west and get wins did just that. St. Mary's gave Battle Creek Harper Creek no chance to move on and Catholic Central took care of business (against Rockford), denying the Rams a chance to move on to another D1 Final. Country Day did what it had to do to the north, and Brother Rice dominated to the south.
In all, four county teams will be playing for state championships in Detroit. That's one more than Kent County, which has three teams playing (in divisions 3-4-5). And four Catholic League teams will be at Ford Field. That's the same amount of teams as the Ottawa-Kent Conference is sending. Congrats to the Catholic League Central division, with its three powerhouse programs representing.

Division 1
Novi Detroit Catholic Central (Oakland) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (Wayne)
Division 2
Muskegon (Muskegon) vs. Birmingham Brother Rice (Oakland)
Division 3
Grand Rapids Christian (Kent) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (Oakland)
Division 4
Grand Rapids South Christian (Kent) vs. Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Oakland)
Division 5
Grand Rapids West Catholic (Kent) vs. Portland (Ionia)
Division 6
Ithaca (Gratiot) vs. Constantine (St. Joseph)
Division 7
Ishpeming (Marquette) vs. Detroit Loyola (Wayne)
Division 8
Beal City (Isabella) vs. Harbor Beach (Huron)

Breakdown by Conference
Catholic Central - Catholic League (Central)
Detroit Cass Tech - PSL (West)
Muskegon - O-K (Black)
Brother Rice - Catholic League (Central)
GR Christian - O-K (White)
St. Mary's - Catholic League (Central)
GR South Christian - O-K (Gold)
Detroit Country Day - Independent
GR West Catholic - O-K (Bronze)
Portland - CAAC (White)
Ithaca - Tri-Valley (West)
Constantine - Kalamazoo Valley
Ishpeming - Mid-Peninsula
Detroit Loyola - Catholic League (Intersectional)
Beal City - Highland
Harbor Beach - Greater Thumb-East

Friday, November 16, 2012

Last minute football semifinal predictions

Just two more weeks of football left. Less than that actually. But there are still five county teams alive and playing for a spot in next weekend's finals. The cream really has risen to the top. We'll see just who finds a way to play for a championship at Ford Field.
Scott Burnstein and Keith Dunlap made their predictions on our MIPrepZone Football Picks Show earlier this week. Kosmo made his choices earlier today. And now it's my turn. Last week, I was 6-2, and am 29-6 for the playoffs.
Here are my picks for this week's five Oakland County games:

Division 1
Rockford (10-2) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (8-4) - CATHOLIC CENTRAL 24, ROCKFORD 14 (Preview)
Detroit Cass Tech (10-2) vs. Lake Orion (11-1) - CASS TECH 20, LAKE ORION 14 (Preview)

Division 2 
Birmingham Brother Rice (10-2) vs. Wyandotte-Roosevelt (11-1) - BROTHER RICE 41, ROOSEVELT 10 (Preview)

Division 3
Orchard Lake St. Mary's (10-2) vs. Battle Creek Harper Creek (10-2) - ST. MARY'S 31, HARPER CREEK 13 (Preview)

Division 4 
Detroit Country Day (10-2) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (10-2) - COUNTRY DAY 30, SWAN VALLEY 23 (Preview)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Piecing together an all-county team is tough

Sometimes writing up an all-county team - be it boys or girls tennis, or hockey - doesn't give the time or effort I put into the teams justice. I spend a lot of time throughout the season trying to accumulate match and tournament results. I try to keep in touch with coaches via phone calls and emails.
I try to see some matches, get out to some practices. I do try my best to see the best.
That being said, I still make mistakes. I may overlook certain individuals or teams. I can't be everywhere, or know everything. I do rely on that information from coaches to help me make good decisions. Sometimes I fail, however.
This year's all-county boys tennis team is loaded with talent. Some of it is old talent (seniors), but a good chunk of it was made up of sophomores and juniors. That bodes well for the future of high school tennis in this county. I had looked forward to seeing how the Division 1 draw at No. 1 singles would play out this season in Midland. You had Ed Covalschi (Eisenhower), Tyler Gardiner (Northville) and Brett Forman (Troy) all in the draw. They were the headliners - all three graduated having won an individual #1 singles state championship.
But beyond that the field was stacked with young talent, some of which was located right in Oakland County, and some of which were on our all-county team. If nothing changes (no transfers, no high-profile players coming into high school tennis, or incoming freshmen I'm not aware of), Oakland County could have a few of the best players returning to the Division 1 draw. I expect Novi's Tim Wang and Rochester Adams' Justin Hyman to be two of the best next year. Don't expect them to meet in a quarterfinal next year like they did last month. They should be top-four seeds. Catholic Central's Michael Dube' should also be a top-four seed. And Athens' Richard Zhang could be a sleeper. One thing I'm hoping is that somehow, someway, Lakeland's Alex Kim gets a shot at competing in Midland. He's a great player who's been stuck in the toughest region in the state these past two years. When you've got players such as Tyler Gardiner, Tim Wang, J.P. Mullane and Michael Dube' in your draw, you've got your work cut out for you.
I explained to a coach earlier today that my decisions when putting the all-county team together are based on what I know, and what I'm presented, when I seek out information from all the coaches heading into the selection process. That being said, some deserving players may be left off the team.
Some of the toughest decisions when finalizing a team are those at the end of the second team. We had some great individual and doubles talent that missed making the team. Some very well may have been deserving of a spot. Take for example, Birmingham Groves' Calvin Greer. He's a very good player who had a good year. He won a regional championship and took a couple of the players on the second team to three sets.
In doubles, it was extremely difficult to decipher who should or should not make the second team. Troy and Andover's top teams were solid and were no brainers. But Stoney Creek, North Farmington, Seaholm and Rochester Adams all had good No. 1s. Stoney Creek peaked at the right time, winning the OAA Red championship and finishing runner-up to a very good Brother Rice pair. North Farmington's Andrew Murtland and Rob Chapekis perhaps should have been on the second team, but I was unaware of a win over Birmingham Seaholm's Jason Mondry and Ben McDermott, who did make it. I wish I had five slots instead of four. But I cannot take anything away from Mondry and McDermott. They won OAA White and regional championships. A great season for sure.

Nevertheless, it was another great season of high school tennis and I want to thank everyone who helped me cover it along the way. There's always room for improvement, though. I still only hear from about half of our coaches - if that. There's no reason every coach shouldn't be calling in his/her match results. I don't care if you're from an elite school, or a developing program. Every kid deserves to read his name in the paper, or on MIPrepZone. Have a great winter and we'll see all you tennis lovers in the spring!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Big tradition remains in Division 1 draw

At this point in the football state playoffs, the great teams generally separate themselves. In some instances, that happened. In some others, the joyride continues for some of the upstarts. I broke down the semifinals for all eight divisions below. I only went 10 years back, to show recent tradition and power.
As you can see, the usual suspects remain in some divisions.
  • That's certainly the case in Division 1, where the four remaining teams have accounted for seven of the last 10 state championships - each having one once over the last four years. They've made 18 semifinal appearances and 10 championship games. When you think about big-time football, you start with Rockford, Catholic Central, Lake Orion and Detroit Cass Tech.
  • In Division 2, a lot of people had Muskegon and Brother Rice penciled into the championship game from the start of the season. And guess what? They're both still alive and kicking, on the opposite side of the bracket. Go figure. The two have combined for five of the last 10 state titles. Expect them to add to that number this year.
  • It's a similar situation in Division 3, where DeWitt and St. Mary's bring a wealth of experience to the mix. But I don't think DeWitt matches up well with Grand Rapids Christian, which is 21-2 over the past two season and has beaten the likes of Lowell (twice) and East Grand Rapids. St. Mary's should be a shoe-in to get to Ford Field. But Battle Creek Harper Creek played the Eaglets tough last year. So we'll see.
  • I wasn't around to see some of the great Country Day teams in the middle of the last decade, so this is a new experience for me to see the Yellowjackets in the mix in Division 4. It's hard to tell who the favorite in this division is. Country Day has experienced more success than the other three teams over the last decade. This is one of the most balanced divisions on paper. 
Should be an exciting weekend. One would think Oakland County's Division 1 teams might be slight underdogs. And I'm sure CC and Lake Orion won't mind that one bit. Brother Rice is an overwhelming favorite to get back to Ford Field, where it will most likely see Muskegon. If St. Mary's doesn't let up, it should make a return trip to Detroit as well. And Country Day has as good a shot as anyone to get back to the state finals for the first time since 2008.
I'll make my predictions later this week.

Division 1
State champions: 2004, 2005, 2008
State finals: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008
State semifinals: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 33-6

Detroit Catholic Central
State champions: 2003, 2009
State finals: 2003, 2009, 2011
State semifinals: 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 26-5

Lake Orion
State champions: 2010
State finals: 2008, 2010
State semifinals: 2008, 2010, 2012
Playoff record: 17-8

Detroit Cass Tech
State champions: 2011
State finals: 2011
State semifinals: 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 14-5

Division 2
State champions: 2004, 2006, 2008
State finals: 2004, 2006, 2008
State semifinals: 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012
Playoff record: 24-6

State champions: 2005
State finals: 2005
State semifinals: 2005, 2006, 2012
Playoff record: 14-4

Brother Rice
State champions: 2005, 2011
State finals: 2003, 2005, 2011
State semifinals: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 25-7

Wyandotte Roosevelt
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 10-6

Division 3
State champions:
State finals: 2003, 2004,
State semifinals: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012
Playoff record: 23-8

Grand Rapids Christian
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 5-6

Orchard Lake St. Mary's
State champions: 2011
State finals: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
State semifinals: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 27-7

Battle Creek Harper Creek
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 12-7

Division 4
Comstock Park
State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 9-4

Grand Rapids South Christian
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2004, 2012
Playoff record: 12-7

Saginaw Swan Valley
State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2006, 2009, 2012
Playoff record: 11-7

Birmingham Detroit Country Day
State champions: 
State finals: 2007, 2008
State semifinals: 2007, 2008, 2012
Playoff record: 15-6

Division 5
State champions: 2006, 2007
State finals: 2006, 2007
State semifinals: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012
Playoff record: 23-7

Grand Rapids West Catholic
State champions: 2010
State finals: 2010
State semifinals: 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 19-8

State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 6-9

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 6-5

Division 6
State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 3-2

State champions: 2010, 2011
State finals: 2010, 2011
State semifinals: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record:19-5

State champions: 2004
State finals: 2004, 2011
State semifinals: 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 25-8

Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central
State champions: 
State finals: 2005, 2009, 2010
State semifinals: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
Playoff record: 25-8

Division 7
State champions:
State finals: 2010
State semifinals: 2010, 2012
Playoff record: 17-9

State champions: 
State finals: 2011
State semifinals: 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 10-8

Detroit Loyola
State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 7-6

Flint Beecher
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2012
Playoff record: 6-5

Division 8
St. Ignace La Salle
State champions:
State finals:
State semifinals: 2011, 2012
Playoff record: 11-6

Beal City
State champions: 2009
State finals: 2003, 2009
State semifinals: 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012
Playoff record: 24-9

Muskegon Catholic Central
State champions: 2006, 2008
State finals: 2006, 2008
State semifinals: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012
Playoff record: 22-4

Harbor Beach
State champions: 
State finals:
State semifinals: 2007, 2012
Playoff record: 11-7

Friday, November 9, 2012

My picks for football regional finals

Though there will not be a MIPrepZone Football Picks Contest this week, I still wanted to make my playoff selections for the regional final round. I'm 23-4 over the first two rounds. So here goes with this week's picks:

Division 1
Rockford (9-2) at Clarkston (11-0) - CLARKSTON 20, ROCKFORD 17 (OT)
Detroit Catholic Central (7-4) at Plymouth (9-2) - CATHOLIC CENTRAL 30, PLYMOUTH 17
Macomb Dakota (10-1) at Lake Orion (10-1) - LAKE ORION 24, DAKOTA 17

Division 2
Birmingham Brother Rice (9-2) at Walled Lake Western (9-2) - WALLED LAKE WESTERN 30, BROTHER RICE 26
Oak Park (9-2) at Wyandotte-Roosevelt (10-1) - ROOSEVELT 21, OAK PARK 19

Division 3
Detroit East English (9-2) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (9-2) - ST. MARY'S 38, EAST ENGLISH 14

Division 4
Grosse Ile (10-1) at Country Day (9-2) - COUNTRY DAY 27, GROSSE ILE 20

Division 8
Our Lady of the Lakes (9-2) at Harbor Beach (10-1) - HARBOR BEACH 34, LAKES 20

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week 2 winners are in (Football Picks Contest)

In most weeks, my 8-1 record would be enough to take down the competition. But we had an entry in this past week's MIPrepZone Football Picks Contest that defined perfection. Jake Thielen finished a flawless 9-0. Congrats Jake - you've won yourself a MIPrepZone t-shirt.
Kam Haifleigh and Ray LeDuc both finished 8-1, but Ray's tiebreaker (54) was closer to the actual number of points scored in the St. Mary's-Avondale game (63). So congrats Ray, you win our second t-shirt. Thanks to everyone for participating. The standings are below.

Jake T. (9-0)
Kam H. (8-1)
Ray L. (8-1)
Chris E. (7-2)
Ken S. (7-2)
Sean H. (7-2)
Tim E. (7-2)
Tommy W. (7-2)
Albert K. (6-3)
Christian M. (6-3)

My predictions
(actual result in parenthesis)
Division 1
Grand Blanc (6-4) at Clarkston (10-0) - CLARKSTON 30, GRAND BLANC 27 (Clarkston 35, Grand Blanc 19)
Detroit Catholic Central (6-4) at Walled Lake Northern (8-2) - CATHOLIC CENTRAL 34, WL NORTHERN 20 (Catholic Central 45, Walled Lake Northern 17)
Utica Eisenhower (8-2) at Lake Orion (9-1) - LAKE ORION 24, EISENHOWER 17 (Lake Orion 10, Eisenhower 7)

Division 2
Walled Lake Western (8-2) at Fenton (9-1) - WALLED LAKE WESTERN 37, FENTON 27 (Walled Lake Western 49, Fenton 27)
Oxford (7-3) at Brother Rice (8-2) - BROTHER RICE 27, OXFORD 14 (Brother Rice 38, Oxford 6)
Southfield (7-3) at Oak Park (8-2) - SOUTHFIELD 20, OAK PARK 19 (Oak Park 19, Southfield 12)

Division 3 
Orchard Lake St. Mary's (8-2) at Avondale (9-1) - ST. MARY'S 34, AVONDALE 13 (St. Mary's 49, Avondale 14)

Division 4
Detroit Country Day (8-2) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (9-1) - COUNTRY DAY 23, NOTRE DAME PREP 17 (Country Day 14, Notre Dame Prep 12)

Division 8
Melvindale ABT (7-3) at Our Lady of the Lakes (8-2) - LAKES 28, MELVINDALE ABT 20 (Lakes 31, ABT 12)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Best in the county earn all-state tennis honors

I always kind of laugh when the all-state tennis teams come out. Not that they're wrong. Just that I'm a little jealous at how easy it is for the Coaches' Association to pick those teams. They're divided among the four divisions, which make it easy to reward the kids who deserve recognition.
My job in picking an all-county team is much, much more difficult. My team is combined among all four divisions, among all the best players in the state. And we all know how much talent resides here in Oakland County.
My all-county team will be released shortly. I always wait until the all-state teams are released before making my final decisions. But first, I thought I might give a little love to those kids who did, and didn't, make the all-state squads.
Half of the Division 1 first-team singles players (eight) were from Oakland County. Seniors Brett Forman (Troy), Gunnar Peery (Rice) and Jack Hamaty (Rice) will be graduating, but the other five - Michael Dube' (Catholic Central), Alex Kim (Lakeland), Richard Zhang (Troy Athens), Tim Wang (Novi) and Justin Hyman (Rochester Adams) - will all be back next year.
One name missing from the team, Nick Fiaschetti of Stoney Creek. He was a state quarterfinalist and took Huron's Jack Petersen three sets before bowing out. Five others on the first team did not make it that far. He was also the OAA runner-up to Brett Forman (three sets) this season and was a regional runner-up to Hyman. His play on the courts warranted inclusion on the first team, if not the honorable-mention squad.
Novi's top two doubles teams (Jason Carless and Andrew Ying, Nishant Kakar and Michael Chang) were first teamers, as was Brother Rice's Blake Hildebrand and Gavin McNulty.
Calvin Greer (Groves) and Griffin Mertz (North Farmington) represented the county in Division 2. Greer, a senior, and Mertz, a sophomore, were the lone first-team members. Seaholm's Jason Mondry and Ben McDermott (first doubles) and Zach Tayler and Griffen Neel (second doubles) were honorable mention.
And it was no surprise that Country Day's 1-2-3 singles players, Max Fliegner, Sven Kranz and Rishi Patel, made the Division 3 first team. They all won state titles. Cranbrook's Matt McCormick was also a first-teamer.
The Yellowjackets' top two doubles teams of Alex Gruskin and Patrick Adams and Max Lee and Lorenz Gahn, also made the first team. Cranbrook's Alex David and Taylor Ghesquiere made it, too.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Football Picks Contest - Playoffs Week 2

Last week we had just four people enter our MIPrepZone Football Picks contest. Part of that was that I did not announce it until Friday morning.
So this week I'm spreading the word on Thursday. There are nine Oakland County games being played on Friday and Saturday. It's simple, just pick the winner of each of the games below. The two people with the best record will win a MIPrepZone t-shirt. Because there are just nine games, we'll need a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker for the contest will be the total points scored in the Avondale-St. Mary's game. A second tiebreaker will be the total points scored in the Oxford-Brother Rice game.
So please email the winners of all nine games to, and be sure to include the total points scored next to your winner of the Avondale-St. Mary's and Oxford-Brother Rice games. Please put FOOTBALL PICKS CONTEST in the subject line. All entries are due by 6 p.m. Friday (no exceptions). Any incomplete entries may be disqualified. Please include a contact phone number in case you win.
The games and my predictions are below:

Division 1
Grand Blanc (6-4) at Clarkston (10-0) - CLARKSTON 30, GRAND BLANC 27
Detroit Catholic Central (6-4) at Walled Lake Northern (8-2) - CATHOLIC CENTRAL 34, WL NORTHERN 20
Utica Eisenhower (8-2) at Lake Orion (9-1) - LAKE ORION 24, EISENHOWER 17

Division 2
Walled Lake Western (8-2) at Fenton (9-1) - WALLED LAKE WESTERN 37, FENTON 27
Oxford (7-3) at Brother Rice (8-2) - BROTHER RICE 27, OXFORD 14
Southfield (7-3) at Oak Park (8-2) - SOUTHFIELD 20, OAK PARK 19

Division 3 
Orchard Lake St. Mary's (8-2) at Avondale (9-1) - ST. MARY'S 34, AVONDALE 13

Division 4
Detroit Country Day (8-2) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (9-1) - COUNTRY DAY 23, NOTRE DAME PREP 17

Division 8
Melvindale ABT (7-3) at Our Lady of the Lakes (8-2) - LAKES 28, MELVINDALE ABT 20