Friday, August 29, 2008

WEEK 1: Hartland vs. Livonia Churchill

Hartland opened up their season in top form and didn't waste any time to air it out and find the endzone.

Hartland took the opening kickoff, and under duel threat quarterback Chris Cagle, quickly marched down field. Cagle ran for 35 yards on two carries on the opening drive, before tossing a 9 yard strike to sophomore Matt Poches on a slant route for the early 7-0 lead.

After a quick 3-and-out by the Eagle defense, Cagle went back to work. A pass to Vonn Jones put Hartland back in the red zone and Cagle ended the drive with a 16 yard dash up the middle. Hartland then took a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:35 to go in the first quarter after Cagle hooked up with Jones for a 14 yard TD pass. Jones made a spectacular play by making the catch and keeping his toes inbounds. The drive was set up by a 40 yard pass completion to the 6-4 Poches.

Give Churchill credit because they refused to throw in the towel. The Chargers responded with a big play of their own when Jeff Ricketts snuck past the Hartland defense for a 30 yard TD strike from Grant Morgan.

Before Livonia could build any momentum or confidence Hartland took the field and scored again with less than a minute ticking off the clock. Cagle went deep to Poches for the 48 yard score. Hartland found paydirt one more time before the half, this time Cagle found his big 6-5 tight end, Jon Stevens, in the endzone on a 2nd-and-goal play. The drive was set up by two Jones reverse runs that accumulated 45 yards. The second run came on a fourth down play and Jones was hit in the backfield but was able to shake himself loose and rumble to the two yard line to set up the TD toss giving Hartland a 35-7 lead at the half.

Cagle put the nail in the coffin with 7:38 to go in the third quarter on a 10 yard TD pass to Poches making the score 41-7. The rest of the second half belonged to the reserves. Both team's second units scored making the final 47-14.

GAME MVP- Chris Cagle, Hartland the senior QB threw 5 TD's and ran for another. In the first half alone Cagle rushed for 100 yards and threw for 200 yards. Now listen here, I don't care what most of the rankings say and all the talk if Cagle was two inches taller. The fact is this kid is a playmaker. Whatever college gets him will be getting a steal.

Matt Poches, Hartland- talk about a coming out party! In his varsity debut the soph. had 8 catches for over 130 receiving yards and 3 TD's.

Vonn Jones, Hartland- Everytime Jones touched the ball he was a block away from breaking loose, whether it was on punt returns, reverse runs, bubble passes, or a normal catch.

Jeff Ricketts, Churchill- the speedy back lined up in the backfield as well as the slot. He can be dangerous in the open field and will have a good season. He also played safety and returned kickoffs.

Check back on the NGS homepage in the upcoming days for a complete photo gallery as well as a full game breakdown and player evaluations.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

WEEK 1: Top 10 Games

10. Grand Blanc at White Lake Lakeland
Grand Blanc is trying to bounce back from a 3-6 season but have a tough week 1 match-up against Lakeland. Lakeland has a talented senior class, most notable QB Blake Heiman. Don't let last seasons record fool you, the Bobcats have the weapons to compete with Lakeland, in sophomore QB Ryan Morley and junior WR Tony Jones.
NGS Pick- Grand Blanc 31-28

9. Battle Creek Central at Jackson Lumen Christi
Lumen Christi returns most of last year's team that came up just short at Ford Field. This year Lumen Christi is the favorite to win division 5 but first they will have to contain Running back Larry Caper, a Michigan State commit.
NGS PICK- Lumen Christi 23-13

8. Lake Orion vs. Rockford at EMU
This game will be a dog fight and will come down to who limits the errors and turnovers. Both teams return rock solid defenses, so don't expect a ton of points which will make every snap crucial. Rockford returns QB Tim McGee, and he should be the difference maker.
NGS PICK- Rockford 17-10

7. Flint Southwestern vs. Midland Dow
The talk of the SVL are Midland and Arthur Hill but both Dow and SWA feel they are also good enough to win the conference race. For that to happen neither team can afford a loss in week 1. Both offenses can air it out which should make for an exciting game.
NGS PICK- Southwestern 28-17

6. Brother Rice at Oak Park
Oak Park has one of the nation's elite in running back Edwin Baker who is as versatile as it gets. Brother Rice will just overwhelm Oak Park by positioning playmakers all over the field. Baker will find paydirt but the B.R. won't make it easy.
NGS PICK- Brother Rice 34-20

5. Rochester Adams at Clarkston
Clarkston has players but they do lack experience and Adams will take early advantage of that with their potent passing game. Adam's QB Adam Waszak isn't anything special but he knows how to win and manage a game.
NGS PICK- Adams 31-10

4. Inkster at Zeeland West
Two teams that have Ford Field potential but two total different styles of play. The key to this game will be if Inkster will be able to get their playmakers in single coverage and spread out West's defense.
NGS PICK- Inkster 35-14

3. Lowell at Davison
This is turning into quite a east/west rivalry for week 1. Davison is hoping that a strong O-line and defense can carry. Only problem is Lowell's defense is just as good and they have a scary offense that can put up points in a hurry.
NGS PICK- Lowell 31-17

2. Detroit King vs. Muskegon at EMU
Both teams had huge ups last year, Muskegon was ranked nationally mid-way through the season; but it was King that won a State Title. A lot of those players were lost to graduation but plenty of talent returns.
NGS PICK- Muskegon 24-21

1. Orchard Lake St. Mary's at East Grand Rapids
You gotta love this week 1 game, you know what happened last year and here they are to open the season. Expect another dog fight and don't be surprised to see another overtime.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preview: Flint Carman Ainsworth

(There is a new mentality at Carman-Ainsworth)

Talent has never been a problem at Carman-Aisworth, it has been leadership. But now the Cavs seem to be in the right direction under new head coach- Nate Williams. "Coach Williams has changed our mentality and attitude towards football. We used to be undisciplined and worried about individual performances but now we are disciplined and the team comes first," says junior Tre Branch.

OFFENSE- that offense has yet to get their feet wet but they are talented and have the players to bust open the big play. My concern is if they will be able to sustain long drives.

Although they are inexperienced at the skilled positions the O-line returns four players and Trey Branch will solidify the fifth spot giving the Cavs a huge and physical O-line that averages 6-3 and 280 pounds. "We understand how to block as one unit, we'll be able to give our QB time and our backs holes to run through." says Branch.

DEFENSE- the D will be the heart and soul of this team. With 9 starters returning, and a handful of D-1 prospects, the Cavs will be solid in all aspects of the game. The front seven has a rare blend of size and speed and the secondary is filled with gamebreakers.

SCHEDULE- most teams coming off of a 2-7 record and a new coach don't usually go out and try to toughen up their schedule, but that is exactly what Coach Williams has done. The Cavs could come out of this schedule 9-0 or 0-9.

Not only do they have to battle their Big 9 rivals in Davison, Flushing, Grand Blanc, and Powers but they have to face De La Salle, Traverse City West, and East Lansing. All three of those teams had long playoff runs last year and return key players.

PREDICTION: 6-3 I love this defense but the schedule is real tough. The defense will carry the load until the offense can carry itself. I predict the Cavs to fight their way into the playoffs- once there, I believe that they are more than capable of stealing a few wins.


Trey Branch, DE/RG- only a junior but has the most seniority on the team. The three year starter at D-end will bounce around the defense showing off his versatility at different positions.

Aaron Brandt, LG/DT- an experienced lineman with great technique. Brandt will also be a key run stopper at D-tackle. He sizes up at 6-4 and 265 pounds.

Ricky Clemens, OT- the senior lineman sizes up at 6-5 and 300 pounds. He gets off the line fast and knows how to hold a block.

Adrien Grant, S/WR- the 6-3 receiver will be a threat offensively but he is more important for the team when he lines up at safety.
Nick Hill, QB- the sophomore has won the QB battle and will take control going into week 1. Hill is 5-11 and blessed with a ton of speed. The upper classmen boast about how well of a leader he is for being so young.

Lance Simmons, RB/LB- the bulky back will head the rush attack and guide the talented linebacker core. Simmons likes to get physical but can also use speed moves to elude defenders.

HELLO, MY NAME IS.... Shane Barron Only a freshman but will see a significant amount of plays. Barron has ridiculous athleticism and is a pure playmaker. He will line up at receiver but will also see some snaps in the backfield.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Preview: Nouvel C.C.

(Nouvel captains: left to right, Garrett Roe, Murphy Wilson, Josh Fallon, and Ryan Henris)

At Nouvel Catholic Central the mindset is the same every year- "STATE CHAMPIONSHIP", and this year's team is no different! Nouvel is coming off of two straight State Championships and are focused on getting their third straight. This year's Panthers will be led by a strong senior class that knows exactly what it takes to be successful. "We have great senior leadership and it starts with our four captains- Josh Fallon, Murphy Wilson, Ryan Henris, and Garrett Roe. They are very competitive and leadership oriented." says Coach Boyd.

OFFENSE: only a few starters return but everyone took a fair share of snaps last year. Nouvel will rely on a balance attack and that will keep defenses guessing. Quarterback, Henris, makes good decisions and might be even better outside the pocket.

DEFENSE: these guys are stingy and I mean stingy. I don't see them giving up a ton of points, or even yards for that matter. The run defense will be the strength because the linebacker core is outstanding. The secondary is experienced and disciplined.

SCHEDULE: "We take game as we can get them, this year we are playing 3 teams from the Detroit Catholic League. We're not in their league but we're in their rotation of games," says Boyd. Those three games will be a big test for Nouvel, as they play Divine Child, Detroit U of D, and Gabriel Richard.

The Panthers will also see two teams from Canada this year. "We have an advantage because they will play our rules," adds Coach Boyd. Nouvel will also take the field against Flint Hamady and Muskegon Heights, both teams will feature solid run games this year as Hamady returns their whole O-line and Heights has a speedy back in D-1 prospect Bobby White.

The date that everyone has marked on their calender is September 5th against Traverse City St. Francis. Last year St. Francis rolled over Nouvel, and the Panthers are looking for revenge this year. To make the game more meaning full both teams are the favorites to win the State Championship in their respected divisions.

PREDICTION: State Championship While the regular season will be a tough battle it will only get the Panthers ready for another run towards Ford Field. As good as Nouvel is, I don't think they will finish undefeated. I see them going 7-2 in the season and then just overwhelming there playoff opponents on their way to a 3-Peat.


Josh Fallon, LB/TE- 6-4/215 with a forty time of 4.7 plus an attitude of "hit anything that comes around" and you have a D-1 prospect. Fallon will be the heart beat of the defense. Boyd and company have done a fantastic job of developing linebackers and Fallon will be the next great one. Fallon has the ability to play in the big 10.

Sam Herbert, WR- 6-2 with great cutting ability, runs solid routes and does a good job of reading defenses. Confidence has really improved and is ready to be the "go to" guy for the Panther's passing attack.

Ryan Henris, QB- took a good share of reps at QB last year but now it's his job. Henris is small is stature (5-9/155) but is tough as nails as has superb leadership qualities.

Jon Ludka, S/utility- Ludka played outside LB last year and will now switch to safety giving the Panthers a player that can come up and help with the run game. Ludka will bounce around and be used in a variety of ways offensively.

Kevin Robinson, TB- was injured for a part of the season but was running the ball well before he went out, this year he will be expected to carry the load at tailback. Has a mixture of speed and power with a frame of 5-11/220 pounds.

Murphy Wilson, LB/TE- the 6-3/190 pound head hunter will secure the other LB spot, giving Nouvel two very good LB's that can play both the run and pass. Wilson has no problem getting sideline to sideline.

HELLO, MY NAME IS.... the Panthers have a deep junior class that will slowly get shuffled in but they will be depended on greatly. "It is very important that our juniors contribute and produce, and they are more than capable." states Coach Boyd. Two of those juniors are the backfield tandem of Andrew Lobsiger (FB) and Ryan Miller (TB), both will be relied on to chip in heavily.

Lineman Shawn Kamm is a load at 6-6/280 pounds and will help out with the offensive line. Other juniors that will be relied on are AJ Seamon, Reid McConnell, Alex Giallonardo, Andrew Wehner, and Sean Ellicott.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Preview: Hartland Eagles

(Hartland receivers: left to right- Matt Poches, Vonn Jones, and Jon Stevens)
(Chris Cagle is determined to get into the playoffs)
(Kyle Summerfield will lead the Eagle run game)
(Vonn Jones gets past a defender in a scrimmage)

Last year Hartland finished the year with a 3-6 record, but that record is very deceiving if you take a closer look. Four of those losses came against playoff teams and Hartland also held leads in five of those games. Last year it was Coach Marcus Dukes first year in charge of the program, and quarterback Chris Cagle was just returning to his hometown after spending two year's under the helm at Detroit Catholic Central. To make the learning experience even tougher Hartland had 33 juniors on the team, with 17 of them being starters.

Well now it's a new year and Hartland's 33 juniors are now experienced seniors. "We have a different mindset this year. Last year we were feeling each other out and learning what we could expect from each other; this year we are way ahead in practice and we don't have to spend so much time teaching," states Coach Dukes.

This year the mind set is to win and to get into the playoffs. While football is the true team sport Hartland's team starts with Cagle. Cagle is a natural leader with a rocket for a arm. Hartland has built their offense around Cagle, spreading it out, and giving him four and sometimes five receivers to throw to. Cagle also can make plays with his feet to buy time or simply take off for big chunks of yardage.

OFFENSE- Hartland will have one of the most high powered offenses in Michigan. They have weapons all over the field and they will utilize their speed in their spread offense. The Eagles also return four starters on the offensive line in Josh Theis (RT), Charles Putz (RG), Ryan Simancek (LT), and James Burroughs. Jake Warner will take over the center duties and adds another experienced player to that group.

DEFENSE- last year the defense had it's struggles, especially with the run game. But this year a majority of those players return and the Eagles plan to be stingier. "We are better than a year ago, we're experienced and that helps. I like our hustle, we really get to the ball," explains Coach Dukes.

The defense will be the key to Hartland's season. The offense will put up points but the defense will have to come up with those big stops this year. Hartland switches to 4-3 defense this year after using a 3-4 defense last year in hopes of containing the run game.

PREDICTION: 7-2 The Eagles are ready to make the playoffs for the first time since 1998. Playing in the new Kensington Lakes Conference will make things interesting because Hartland doesn't know too much about some of their opponents.

Hartland should find success against former Kensington Valley foes like Brighton, Pickney, Milford, and Howell but they will have their hands full against both Livonia schools (Churchill and Franklin).


Chris Cagle, QB- I know what the ranks say, but I still have yet to see a QB in Michigan run a team and make plays on a field like Cagle does. He knows how to read defenses and he can put the ball anywhere on the field. The most underrated football player in Michigan!

Vonn Jones, WR/C- last year's deep threat returns and looks to find the endzone even more. Now that he has some football experience he's not just playing on pure athleticism; now he knows how to run routes and read defenses. Jones will also handle kickoff and punt return duties.

Jon Stevens, TE/DE- Stevens is another Eagle fighting for a D-1 scholarship. The 6-5/220 pound receiver has decent speed and gives Cagle a big target down field. He moves from linebacker to D-end this season and should excel coming off of a 3-point stance.

Kyle Summerfield, RB/LB- 5-11/200 pound runner who excels when he runs north to south. Excellent tackler in the open field and can get sideline to sideline from his LB position.

Josh Theis, RT/DT-a mean and physical player. It doesn't take him long to get into the opposing backfield from his DT spot. The 6-3/260 pound lineman excels at both run and pass blocking.

Jake Warner, LB/C- Warner, a D-2 prospect, has bulked up this year and will be rewarded by being moved to center. He can get physical and stay low to the ground. Warner also will be a key member of the Eagle defense.

HELLO, MY NAME IS....Matt Poches the state is familiar with Poches on the hardwood but he might just be a better receiver. He has every trait you want out of a young receiver. Size at 6-4 with deep threat and brake away speed. Poches also has that gridiron toughness and takes pride in down field blocking. I predict Poches will find paydirt at least 10 times.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hartland scrimmage

(Hartland's -Matt Poches blocks downfield against C-A)
(C-A's Nick Hill find daylight against Hartland)
(Hartland's Chris Cagle takes off down field)
(Ogemaw Height's Alex Rose gets rid of a blocker)

Hartland- Thursday morning Hartland High school hosted a five team scrimmage that included the home town Eagles, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Ogemaw Heights, Ortonville-Brandon, Tecumseh. Below are some of my thoughts along with top performances from the teams and individual players. All ranks are based only on Thursday's scrimmage. We all know teams don't go deep into the playbooks during scrimmages and do plenty of shuffling around with players and personal.

**The best match-up was Hartland's offense against Carman-Ainsworth's defense. I thought the C-A speed would give Hartland problems but Cagle found the endzone with his arm and feet.

**I like Carman's offensive line. All five players are huge and can move around. Tre Branch and Ricky Clemens are beast.

**I think Ogemaw Heights is in for a long playoff run. They are experienced, and just seem to play well together.

**On one play Carman had a real hard sack on Brandan's quarterback. The two teams started a scuffle but all was calmed down. Just seemed like two physical teams were having fun, got a little out of control, but then tempers were cooled.

1. Hartland looked real good by spreading it out and doing whatever they wanted. Fun to watch with all those offensive weapons.

2. Ogemaw Heights pound it, pound it, and then slip the tight end past everyone for the pass. That's what they did extremely well all day against all four teams.

3. Carman-Ainsworth speed all over the field, QB just needs to get comfortable. Looked good at times but also showed some inexperience.

4. Brandon did a solid job with misdirection plays. Timing was just a little off through out the day.

5. Tecumseh fun to watch- they pack it in like a rugby team. All 11 players are jammed into the line and pocket.


1. Carman-Ainsworth I'll still rank them #1 for the day but that has allot to do with talent and speed. Hartland's #1's scored on them a couple times but C-A's defense was the toughest for the day.

2. Ogemaw Heights at first I thought the secondary was too small but them boys can defend. Upfront they plugged the wholes and Alex Rose made a majority of the tackles.

3. Brandon didn't give up many big plays. Teams did score but Brandon didn't make easy.

4. Hartland pass defense is OK but the run defense gave up too many big runs.

5. Tecumseh C-A and Ogemaw ran all over them and Hartland ate them up in the air.


1. Alex Rose, Ogemaw Heights, TE/DE- goes about 6-2 and 230 pounds. Dominated at every position, he'll start at TE and DE but he also played a lil RB and OLB. Great hands and is the go-to receiver. Big time playmaker!

2. Chris Cagle, Hartland, QB- didn't play or show much but was just a step ahead of everyone else on the field. Showed great poise and experience. Sat back and just picked all four teams apart as well as scored on a couple option keepers.

3. Trey Branch, Carman, DE/G- Branch is just too physical for the high school game. 3-year starter at D-end and he's only a junior. Just ate up lineman with multiple moves.

4. Lance Simmons, Carman, RB- he looks like a power back at 6-0/220 but he has that extra gear once he gets past the line. Was just a load to bring down.

5. Vonn Jones, Hartland, WR/C- Jones burnt every corner he matched up against. Just a pure athlete with great hands.

6. Matt Poches, Hartland, WR- the 6-4 sophomore is tough- big time deep threat and proved it with two 40+ yard TD's. Did a great job blocking down field.

7. Adrian Grant, Carman, S- just what you want out of a safety. Covered the whole field and came up fast to make the tackle. deflected three passes that I saw.

8. Eric Noble, Ogemaw Heights, QB- the 6-2 QB knows how to run an offense. Didn't throw that much but completed it almost every time he did throw. Good mobility inside the pocket.

9. Ben Bagby, Tecumseh, TE- 6-5 and slim but did got the job done blocking on the line. Caught a couple big yardage passes.

10. Kyle Summerfield, Hartland, RB/LB- tough as heck and just a pure football player. A north and south runner that loves contact, led the Eagle defense at LB.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Preview: Arthur Hill

(Mike Schaaf returns to torch opposing secondaries)
(The Jacks are on a mission this year!)
(Above: Josh Hill and Chris Webb battling at practice)
(Below: Omari Humes sheds a block during practice)
The 2007 season left the Lumberjack football team wondering "what if". Last year the Jacks solidified their selves as being one of the most talented team in the state by compiling a 7-2 record only to fall to SVL rival Midland 43-29 in the first round of the playoffs. In that game Arthur Hill held a double digit lead early in the first half, and while the loss was tough enough to swallow, the Jacks were forced to watch Midland advance to Ford Field. "The loss was tough but our kids grew from that experience" adds Coach Fred Townsend. "It left us with an empty feeling and now were out to prove a point!"

Arthur Hill returns nearly everyone from last year's team and the Jacks are on a mission. "We are focused, we have expectations, and we have a different mindset from past years." says Townsend. Arthur Hill has quickly become one of the top football programs in Mid-Michigan, not only is it tough to find a weakness on either side of the ball but the Jacks have depth at every position. The Jacks will not rely on one or two players to carry the load so it forces opposing teams to pick their poison. Arthur Hill returns 9 starters on defense and 9 on offense.

OFFENSE- "Everyone knows our players at the skilled positions but our offensive strength is in our offensive line," says Coach Townsend. The Jacks return all five starters from last year's O-line: Courtland Young (C), Daniel Jackson (LG), Darius Baldwin-Miles (LT), Jacob Gager (RG), and George Adams (RT). They will give Schaaf plenty of time to throw and Wilson plenty of holes to run through. This offense will light up the score board and can brake loose from anywhere on the field.

DEFENSE- "We will be more disciplined this year and we are looking for 3 and outs!" stresses Coach Anwar Jackson, defensive coordinator. Don't expect too many shootouts with this experienced defense. The Jacks have speed and will fly to the ball and once they get there they will lay the lumber. While talking to the coaching staff the word "shutout" was mentioned a few times, so you know where their defensive mindset is- they don't plan to give up much!

PREDICTION: 9-0 You gotta love the mind set of the Jacks right now. They know how talented they are but they also know talent doesn't win games. "The kids understand that we can play with anyone in the state, but they also know if we don't work hard everyday then we will loose." states Coach Townsend.

I look for the Jacks to win out and win at least a share of the SVL. Since the Jacks don't have Midland on the schedule we'll have to wait for the playoffs to find the "true" Valley Champs! I expect a deep run into the playoffs with the Jacks getting past Midland this year.


Demarcio Copes, RB/C- will get a handful of carries to spell Wilson but will rarely leave the field. His versatility allows him to line up at multiple positions. Should be a big playmaker on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Omari Humes, TE/OLB- Humes is Schaaf's security blanket at tight end, 6-4/220 pounds with sure-catch hands. Humes also comes up big at his outside LB position with the speed and power to hawk down the ball.

Daniel Jackson, DE/LG- great combo of speed and power that you love to see on the edge. Will cause havoc in the backfield for opposing quarterbacks. Jackson is one of the most underrated D-ends in the state.

Chris Nelson, DL- Nelson lines up at the gorilla position for the Jacks and he plays the same way by just terrorizing the line of scrimmage. Nelson has a ton of experience and is another one of the defensive leaders.

Mike Schaaf, QB- the 6-7 QB and his rocket arm took the state by storm last year and expect even bigger numbers this year out of Schaaf. Schaff is still considered one of the top QB's in his class and that's without attending any of the combines.

Dell Simon, LB/RB- Simon started at LB last year as a freshman and was more than solid. This year the training wheels are off and expect to see Simon just rack up tackles at linebacker. He'll also get plenty of time in the Jack's backfield.

Chris Webb, WR- a handful of receivers will see the field but Webb will be the leader of the pack. He doesn't have a ton of brake away speed but he has great hands and can run every route.

Jerrell Wilson, RB- Wilson has the speed to bust open from anywhere on the field, he has the power to be an every down back that can pick up that extra yard between the tackles.

HELLO, MY NAME IS....Chandler Young The Jacks are ridiculously deep with underclassmen at every position and while Schaaf is the starting QB don't be surprised to see Young, a sophomore, get a fair share of snaps. "Chandler is dynamic and very athletic, and he can really really run the ball so he gives our offense a different dimension to what we can do offensively.

Dawkins' Boot Camp: Standout Campers

(above: Trey Babers)

(above: Davielle Thomas)

(below: Dorian Dawkins)
Below are the top 15 campers (men and women) from Coach Dawkins' Boot Camp. While talent played a factor the top 15 were picked mostly on work ethic and attitude. Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Trey Babers, Saginaw, 2011- Get to know this name! Trey doesn't get much pub but the kid is a player- it's in his genes. The 6-3 combo guard just might end up being a better player than his cousin Day-Day.

Pierre Brackett, Hamady, 2011- Pierre is just a work horse- these are the kind of events where the 6-3 wing just shines! Overall he might have had the best day when it came to drills and game performances.

Dorian Dawkins, Saginaw, 2013- I was really impressed with D.D., he handled every drill like an upperclassmen. During the scrimmages he showed off his ability to be the "go-to-scorer" and a "pass-first-PG".

Porsha Fluker, Hamady, 2011- just another stud from the Lady Hawks program. Great work ethic, no complaining just went about her business. Got it done on both ends of the floor.

Jordan Hare, Saginaw, 2012- (pictured below) Hare stands at 6-5 and could end up being a PG. He is fundamentally sound and has a solid shot from 3-point range. Looked good in the ball drills but will need to improve defensively, but no worries because Dawkins is on top of it. If Hare continues to work he is a star in the making.

Roy Jackson, Hamady, 2010- I don't know how this 6-2 PG slips through all the rankings. Part of it is do to the fact that 2010 is so loaded at the guard position but Jackson's name deserves to be mentioned.

Connor McCane, Rockford, 2011- came in and went right to work. Worked extremely hard in the drills and was impressive in the games. Took care of the ball at the point and scored when needed.

Daquavion McCants-Wilson, K-Zoo Central, 2011- wasn't as ball skilled as some of the other players but was very impressive. Short and stocky PG that plays physical and knows how to get into his opponent's jersey.

Tommie McCune, Saginaw, 2011- I know it was his coach and his school but all day long Tommie carried himself like a leader. Since he was familiar with the drills he helped others learn. McCune just might be ready to be a Trojan leader this season!

Quincie Norman, Detroit, 2013- A player to keep an eye on! Long and active around the basket at 6-3. Struggled at times against the older players but that was to be expected, however he kept on fighting.

Nate Schmidt, A.A. Huron, 2010- big strong body but had a soft touch on his jump shot. Wasn't the fastest camper but understood the importance of defensive position. At 6-3 he played all 5 positions in the games.

AJ Thomas, Heritage, 2010- AJ has really improved his foot speed and it showed in the drills. He was one of the quickest campers in Dawkins' different defensive drills. Thomas has also improved his ability to finish near the basket. Should have a huge junior year!

Davielle Thomas, Heritage, 2010- I was very impressed with this PG's skills, and she works just as hard as she is skilled. Solid with both hands and very quick feet. She was good in the defensive drills.

Diamond Tolliver, Saginaw, 2010- I don't think Diamond understands just how talented she is, I would like to see her take her game to another level. Very tough and can really get to the basket. She has high major potential.

Christian Vaughn, St. Marks, 2012- outlasted all of the other campers in the cross country run and the bleachers. Was also one of the best pure shooters in the shooting drills.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dawkins' Boot Camp

After spending Saturday afternoon at Coach Lou Dawkin's Boot Camp it became particularly obvious why the Saginaw High Trojans have ripped off two straight State Championships. You can talk all you want about talent but it is apparent that work ethic has played a key role in those titles.

Dawkins and his Trojan staff ran campers through 5 hours of drills, conditioning, and scrimmages for a mere 30 dollars- campers got more than there dollars worth!

Dawkins ran two separate sessions for boys and girls. Both groups did the same training but I don't think the ladies were expecting the training to be so intense. Campers flocked in from Saginaw, Flint, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Rockford, and even Ohio.

The campers started the day with a cross country jog and followed that up with running drills on the football field's bleachers. Campers then went back inside for drills that focused on defensive position, shooting, and ball handling.

For the last hour campers were separated into teams for games, even though they were fighting hard for that extra energy. One aspect of the games that I loved was how Dawkins plays with no out of bounds. It really made the kids hustle and fight for loose balls, and we all know those are the little things that win games.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Preview: Saginaw High

(Left to right- Mike Green, Teveon Whitson, Jimmy Davis, and
DeAnthony Arnett will overwhelm secondaries in the S.V.L.)
(Ashford will make plays with both his arm and feet this season)

(Hayes will be a major playmaker on defense and special teams, as well as offense)

From 1995-2002 the Trojan football program rang up a 78-13 record, which included a 1999 State Championship. Since then the High has compiled a 12-33 record. Coach Bob Collins in now in his third year as the Trojans Head Coach and feels he finally has the program going in the right direction.

In 1999 Saginaw was led by a phenomenal passing attack that was highlighted by Charles Rogers. No, there may not be a Rogers on this roster, YET! But there are a handful of exceptionally talented players at the skilled positions. "We are going to be fast, scary fast," states Coach Collins "we are going to utilize our speed and put our kids in position to make plays."

The Trojans bring almost everyone back from last years team and should easily improve on last year's 2-7 record. It is just sick thinking of how much talent the Trojans have at the skilled position but it is unclear of how solid the offensive line and the defense will be. Scoring won't be a problem but the improvement of the defense will dictate how good this team will becomes in 2008.

OFFENSE- the Trojans will start with their veer option but look for their spread offense to be their bread and butter. With so so much speed and such a gifted group of receivers why wouldn't you put 3 or 4 receivers on the field at once.

DEFENSE- Saginaw has implemented a new 3-4 defense and I am unsure of how solid their run defense will be. They bring back both D-ends and the entire linebacker core from last year- so they will have experience. Speed is also the key to the Trojan defense as they will flock to the ball.

Talent alone should have this team flirting with the playoffs but as skilled as the Trojans are on the outside we all know it starts in the trenches. With that being said I give Saginaw 4 wins on talent alone but it will be up to the coaching staff to put together two more wins to get this team into the playoffs.

Unfortunately the Trojans play in the S.V.L. and face a very tough schedule that includes the other two Saginaw schools as well as seeing Mt. Pleasant, both Midlands and Bay City's in the first five weeks of the season. If Coach Collins and staff can keep the team focused after that tough start then they may be able to roll off a handful of wins.


DeAnthony Arnett, WR-
will start in the slot as a So. for the Trojans. Above we mentioned this team doesn't have a Charles Rogers yet, and that's because Arnett has the skills and potential to have just as good of a prep career. Arnett joins an already loaded receiving core but expect to see him post some big time numbers with his low 4.4 forty speed.

Ayinde Ashford, QB-
Ashford has added 20 pounds of muscle during the off season and now stands at 6-0/200 pounds. He has the toughness and attitude of a true football player and he is the man for the job to lead this offense.

Jimmy Davis, WR/C- Jimmy gets the least amount of pub out of the receivers but he is heavily relied on due to his ability to play physical and get downfield and block. Davis will also play defense and he has the speed to be a lock down defender.

Mike Green, WR- this sure handed receiver was one of the bright spots on last year's 2-7 team. He posted games with double digit catches and multiple 200+ receiving yard games. Green can make any catch and has terrific hands, especially in traffic. He is the leader of this talented receiving core. Expect to see Green put up huge numbers this year!

Greg Hayes, utiltiy- we label Hayes as a utility because he lines up everywhere for the Trojans and he might just be the fastest man on the roster. He plays tailback, lines up in the slot and wide, as well as playing safety, and the featured punt returner.

Dominique Jackson, RB/DE- at 5-10/200 Jackson will be the starting tailback and comes from a family that has found huge success in the Trojan backfield. Jackson is more of a power back that can plow his way through tackles. Jackson will also line up at the defensive end position where he can hold down his edge.

Maurice Warrick, OT/DT- 6-6/265 and will anchor the offensive line. It is still unclear where he will line up at, although he is a natural left tackle he has bounced around at center. Big Mo has the size and foot speed to be a solid tackle in the S.V.L.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Football Season!

It's that time of the year! Teams all around the state are putting in those two-a-days with dreams of making it to Ford Field for the State Finals. NGS will now shift its attention to football. For the next two weeks till the season starts I will bring you my preseason poll as well as rankings at every position for the classes of 2009-2012. When the season starts you can expect to see game coverage, as well as top performances from the week, and top game breakdowns.

I will also be combing the state checking out practices and scrimmages, you can check back daily as I will bring you team previews, interviews, and pictures from some of the state's top teams and players.

But as I put 90% of my attention to the gridiron greats I will not forget about the basketball world as I will continue coverage of hoops as the high school season is just 3 months away.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mustang 15's: July recap

Don't forget to check out a glimpse back on the month of July for the Michigan Mustang 15-u team.

The article which includes player evaluations along with pictures can be found on the original NGS home page under the "HOT" topics on the wire.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Appling makes decision!

Detroit Pershing standout Keith Appling has put an end to his recruitment by giving a verbal pledge to Coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State University.

The 6-2 combo guard is ranked #2 in the class of 2010 by NGS and is #59 nationally according to rivals. Appling had a successful sophomore debut by helping guide his Doughboys to the state finals. He has put on a show this AAU season with REACH Legends. Appling has proven that he can match any player in the country- basket for basket.

Appling also had offers from Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Miami (Fl.), Xavier, Syracuse, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Marquette.

Monday, August 4, 2008

VEGAS: Mustang 15's

The Vegas trip was a whole new experience for this young and talented team, especially since a majority of the squad had never seen Vegas' bright lights. It took a few days for the boys to settle in, this was evident after an embarrassing double digit loss to M33M- CIA Bounce.

Once the fellas did settle down they proved how good they can actually be! The Stangs fired back with back to back pool play wins in dramatic fashion. The first against DC Assault. After trailing the complete first half the Stangs went on a 15-3 run in the second half to take their first lead of the game with six minutes left on the clock. The run was keyed by the defensive pressure from Mustang guards Lee Bailey, Brandan Kearney, and Christian Vaughn. Bailey completely took DC's point guard out of the game, coming off of a first half where the speedy guard killed the Stangs. Kearney also came up with key plays on the offensive end with a 3-pointer that was followed by a drive and dish to teammate Matt Poches, finished DC off with a 62-53 Stang win.

Everything was up for grabs in the final pool play game. With the pool be so competitive a win would guarantee a #2 seed but a loss could have faltered the Stangs to a #3 or #4 seed. The Stangs went right inside to their workhorse Percy Gibson who produced and got his team the early lead, but the Oakland Rebels weren't going to go away so easily. In the second half the two teams traded the lead as time ticked away. Kearney and wing forward Tommie McCune carried a bulk of the second half scoring for the Stangs but it was Gibson's running hook shot that tied the game with less than a minute to go. Neither team was able to knock down a hero's shot so the game was sent into overtime.

In OT Oakland struck first, but Bailey was able to tie the game with a floater in the paint. The overtime turned into a defensive slugfest and again neither team could control a lead forcing a second overtime.

In the second OT the Stangs went right inside to McCune. McCune's first attempt was off but the active wing was able to scrap for the tip back to give the Stangs a two point lead. A pair of free throws from Kearney stretched the lead but still Oakland wouldn't go away as they as they connected on a 3-pointer. With eight seconds to play- Bailey's free throw made the score 56-54. Oakland took the inbounds the length of the court but their shot attemp fell short giving the Stangs the double OT win and a 2-1 pool record.

In the first round of bracket play against IEBP, the Stangs quickly built a double digit lead behind the play of wing Denzel Valentine and Poches. Valentine's ability to rebound and push the ball allowed the Stangs to get out and run. IEBP could never recover as the lead got to as many as 30 points and the Stangs settled for a 66-48 win as the starters sat a majority of the second half.

Next up was the Stangs biggest rival of the summer- Ohio Basketball Club. This time the Stangs were better prepared as Tommie McCune took the Chane Behanan match up personally and went right at the nation's top forward. McCune started the game like a mad man as he was all over the floor blocking shots and tipping in missed shots. Kearney jumped into the scoring act and the Stangs were quickly up 8 points. The two teams fought on to show why they are considered two of the top 15-u teams in the country. Play after play, players from both teams answered with big shots and defensive stops. But in the end turnovers would be the downfall of the Mustangs as they were forced to foul in the game's final minute. OBC went on to take a 70-59 win.

The Mustangs came back home with a 3-2 record but both losses were to teams that advanced into the final four. On a positive note the Mustangs proved that their players can be mentioned with the nation's best and the Stangs proved that they have three players worthy of being top 100 players nationally.

Check back tommorow on NGS' original homepage to read a complete evaluation of player performances from the 15-u Mustangs.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Big Matt makes decision!

Warren Cousino's Matt Balkema ended his recruitment yesterday by making a verbal commitment to play basketball for Eastern Michigan. Balkema gives Eastern their second commitment from the class of 2009, as he joins Livonia Clarenceville's 6-3 wing Jamie Stewart.

At 6-10 Blakema is a beast in the paint and tough to move around. He loves to get physical and knows how to fight for position. He has spent the last two years playing center for the Michigan Mustangs and during that time Big Matt has battled with some of the country's elite and has held his own.

Balkema chose Eastern Michigan over the University of Detroit, and Kent State. The two sport stud was also getting major interest to play football from some Big Ten schools as well as most of the MAC, but his passion was to play college basketball.

VEGAS: Mustangs 16's

The Mustangs 16-u team traveled to Las Vegas shorthanded but they guys were able to string together a 4-2 record which included an appearance in the "sweet 16".

The trip started bumpy for the Stangs in their first pool game as they didn't score a single point till nearly 10 minutes had ticked off the clock. The slow start was the cause of a double digit lost to 43 hoops out of Minnesota. The Mustangs bounced back with two double digit wins of their own to close out pool play and take the #2 seed going into bracket play. The wins were keyed by the post play of 6-8 Alex Gauna and 6-5 CJ Olaniyan. The inside duo were relentless on the boards which sparked the transition play for the Stangs.

The Mustangs topped Seattle Rotary 51-42 in the first round. Playing well against Seattle was Sultan "Showtime" MoMohammad, Juwan Howard Jr., and Matt Kamieniecki. The team was without a "true" point guard but the trio did a solid job of playing point guard by committee.

In the second round the Mustangs faced a huge test against the heavily favored Atlanta Celtics. Them boys from the ATL jumped out to quick double digit lead but the Stangs got tough and went inside to their muscle, particularly Gauna who displayed an array of post moves that gave him constant trips to the free throw line. The Stangs were able to cut the half time deficit to two points. In the second half the two teams continued to lock horns but the Mustangs had no answer for the Celtics' Jordan McRae. McRae, a 6-5 slashing combo guard with plenty of bounce, got to the basket and scored at will.

A late turnover by the Celtics allowed the Mustangs to tie the game off of a Gauna basket and force overtime. In OT the teams traded baskets back and forth. A free throw by McRae gave the Celtics a 70-69 lead with 6 seconds to play. Juwan Howard took the inbounds pass and went the distance of the court and without hesitation he pulled up and burned a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win.

The emotional win advanced the Mustangs into the "sweet 16" but there the Stangs were overwhelmed by the Playaz and 6-2 point guard Isiah Epps. Epps bombed the Stangs with 35 points in the 76-53 defeat.

The overall out take for the Mustang 16's Vegas experience was a good one! They did manage to put together the 4-2 record without a "true" point guard nor without Jon Horford. The top two overall performers for the Stangs were Howard and Gauna but players like Kamieniecki, Devin Oliver, and Showtime proved they are D-1 worthy.