Thursday, December 30, 2010
Kosmo New Year's Wish list
With the ball dropping on 2010 and signaling the arrival of 2011, Kosmo thought he would offer some things he'd like to see happen for certain individuals and teams in 2011. Here is the wish list.
- To the Birmingham Detroit Country Day boys basketball team and the Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes girls basketball teams, sweet repeats at the Breslin Center for both.
- To the Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Novi Detroit Catholic Central boys hockey teams, another classic matchup in the state's final four at Compuware Arena.
- To Birmingham Marian skier Katie Thibideau, yet another state title to cap off what's been a stellar career.
- To the Novi Detroit Catholic Central athletic program, seven state titles this year to better the six that you won during the 2009-10 school year.
- To the Oxford wrestling team, winning all your matches this time in Battle Creek.
- To the horde of first-year baseball coaches in the county this year that'll take over their respective programs, the beginning of a long and successful tenure.
- To the Lakeland softball team, bringing home the state title trophy and not the state runner-up one. It's time for the hex to end.
- To the Madison Heights Lamphere and Madison Heights Bishop Foley baseball teams, state titles in your respective divisions and making Madison Heights the center of baseball in the county this spring.
- To all girls soccer teams in the county, make sure there's once again three state champions from the area in three of the four divisions. In fact, drop that. Let's do all four.
- To Stoney Creek's Gabby Yurik, another spot on the all-Oakland County Dream Team for basketball and an individual state title in girls golf.
- To Lake Orion quarterback Sean Charette, a healthy ankle and a terrific senior season that leads to another deep run in the state playoffs.
- To the Farmington Hills Harrison football team, a workmanlike attitude to deal with all the sky-high expectations you'll have in the Fall.
- To the Farmington Hills Mercy volleyball team, taking the next step in Battle Creek and winning it all.
To everyone out there, have a safe and Happy New Year. See you in 2011!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Holiday action a great idea
It's the final week of 2010, and despite the fact that school's are on holiday break until next week, some high school sports teams are not on break and are playing games this week.
Some may not like that because they wonder why kids don't get a break at all. But to Kosmo, all these holiday tournaments are terrific.
Kids have enough down time during the break to where they can enjoy things. A couple of hours of practice or a game or two gets them out of the house and helps keep them out of trouble.
It also keeps their games sharp instead of going two weeks without practicing or playing in games. When those teams come back next week, they'll be way more in sync than those who don't play.
Finally, all the holiday tournaments are a good idea to help alleviate the scheduling crunch during the winter sports season created when girls basketball moved to winter a few years ago.
Gym space is hard to come by as it is during the season. Playing a game or two over the holidays means less games to worry about when school is in session and thus opens up some gym space on a night or two.
So for those who wonder why kids don't get a break when they still play sports over a holiday break from school, Kosmo says there are many more plusses than there are minuses.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Heath's kick in 2008 played role in 2010 title for Lake Orion
Since most high school teams are on winter break right now, Kosmo got a chance to reflect a bit on football season a little more in the last couple of days, even watching a replay of Lake Orion's 21-13 win over Plymouth in the Division 1 state championship game.
While watching the game, Kosmo noticed former Lake Orion player Jeff Heath on the sideline.
Even though he graduated in 2009 and obviously didn't play a down this year, it was appropriate that Heath was there since he still might have played a role in Lake Orion's first ever state title.
For those who remember, Heath provided one of the most memorable plays in the history of Lake Orion athletics, miraculously drilling a 49-yard field goal in the final seconds to lead the Dragons to a 38-36 win over Sterling Heights Stevenson in a Division 1 regional final in 2008.
Heath hadn't made more than a 32-yarder all year and had no time to warm up, yet still made the kick.
Lake Orion went on to hammer Dearborn Fordson in the final before losing in the final to Rockford.
Looking back, it's amazing how things might have been different had Heath not provided that miracle.
At that time, Lake Orion had a reputation for not being able to win the big game, and blowing what was a 35-7 third-quarter lead to Stevenson would've increased that weight by about a million times.
The word "choke," unfairly or not, would've been thrown around more than ever.
Even though Lake Orion returned to the state final this year, who knows how different the dynamic would've been if Heath didn't make that field goal?
A big reason the Dragons beat Plymouth was the fact they were not awed by the surroundings or the event of playing in a state final, which led to a 21-3 lead at halftime.
Would that have been the case if this were the first time Lake Orion had ever been in a state final and not 2008?
Would all that hoopla of making it to the final within the community been a distraction this year like it might have been in 2008?
Would the coaching staff at Lake Orion have been as prepared to handle all the logistical elements during the week of preparation as well as they did last month?
Thanks to Heath's kick that put Lake Orion in the final in 2008 and gave them invaluable experience, the focus this time was all about winning the state final, which greatly contributed to Lake Orion's title.
Not sure what the coaching staff at Lake Orion will do, but if you ask Kosmo, Jeff Heath deserves a state-championship ring even though he didn't suit up once this season.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Clarkston in trouble already?
First of all, a lot of credit has to go to the Troy Athens boys basketball team for what it achieved on Tuesday. Playing an inspired game, the Red Hawks knocked off Clarkston, 41-40.
It's believed to be the first time that Athens has ever beaten Clarkston in boys basketball.
A nice job no doubt by Athens, but at the same time, it might signal a red flag for Clarkston, which is appropriate since the primary color for Athens is red.
Following a nice season-opening win against Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Clarkston has dropped back-to-back road games at Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Athens, failing to score more than 40 points in either game.
Kosmo knows its early, but this is not a good sign. The Wolves don't appear to have a legitimate No. 1 scoring option that can bail a team out when they're struggling. Oh, none of this means Clarkston will be bad.
The Wolves should still be a good defensive team and one of the best-coached teams in the state behind Dan Fife.
But it means that this might not be as good of a team that there usually is over at Clarkston.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Praising an underrated coach
Glancing at the box scores and articles for Friday's boys basketball games in his cave on Saturday morning, Kosmo was enthralled by what took place at Rochester Adams on Friday night.
Visiting Ferndale rallied from a third-quarter deficit and then hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds to pull out a 61-58 over Adams.
Kosmo isn't really surprised by Ferndale's early success because head coach Tom Staton has done a nice job turning that program around, but the K-Man is somewhat amazed that Adams still is at worse a solid team every single year.
The Highlanders only returned one starter this year, are in a school district that splits the talent three ways with Rochester and Stoney Creek and don't usually trot out many Division I college players on a yearly basis.
For that, it's time to give praise to head coach John Hall and his staff for how much they get out of the players.
A lot of coaches around the county are well-respected for their longevity and how they bring out the best in their players, such as Clarkston's Dan Fife, Troy's Gary Fralick, George Porritt of St. Mary's and Tom Negoshian of North Farmington. While not in Oakland County, Greg Esler of Warren De La Salle is another fine example of that.
But in his 12th season, Hall has to be mentioned in that group as well. Glancing at Adams each year, there don't appear to be many reasons whey the Highlanders should annually compete for league titles and have 15-win seasons.
But they somehow do, which speaks for how good a coaching staff is in place at Adams.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sometimes great ideas don't pan out
All week long, Kosmo has read with interest that the Oakland County wrestling tournament was going to be held at the Pontiac Silverdome.
The K-Man all week long loved the idea of staging the event at the Dome, given the kids would probably be excited to wrestle there and it's nice to see as many events at the former home of the Lions as possible.
Even better was the fact that the Macomb County tournament was going to be held there at the same time.
It all seemed like a great idea, but unfortunately maybe it hasn't played out the way most thought.
The first day was somewhat of a mess, as the event got a late start and the Eliminator Tournament for wrestlers with two losses had to be canceled.
Coaches also couldn't get around to see their wrestlers because of the vast space, so it's clear some kinks have to be worked out.
Kosmo still likes the idea and applauds the people who came up with it. It's just clear that sometimes great ideas don't turn out like people should and that some wrinkles definitely need to be ironed out if the event will be held at the Silverdome next year.
- Last season, Troy's James Young had an outstanding freshman season before some eligibility issues forced him to miss the final month or so of the season. Kosmo doesn't know if those issues had anything to do with discipline or what, but it's clear Young has responded well to what took place. He's come back with a vengeance this season, and it was capped off by a 30-point performance against Troy Athens on Friday.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Nice honor for Marian's Lovell
The honors just keep pouring in for the Birmingham Marian volleyball team. It all started last month when Marian won the Class A state volleyball championship in Battle Creek for the second straight year.
Then, senior middle hitter Alessandra Dietz was named the Sunkist November Athlete of the Month for her efforts both this season and in the month of November.
Now, senior outside hitter Alex Lovell has been named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Signed with Iowa, Lovell was limited this season because of an ankle injury, but was still instrumental in Marian winning another state championship.
She had 16 kills in Marian's three-game win over Farmington Hills Mercy in the state final.
— Kosmo thought for sure the Birmingham Detroit Country Day men's basketball team would miss star point guard Ray McCallum off of last year's team. But as it turns out, it's possible Country Day is even better this year than when it won it all.
The Yellowjackets appear to be deeper and all the returning players have gotten better from last year.
Senior center Amir Williams is an even more of a dominant force, senior Adam Zavadil is becoming more than just a super sub, while Kenny Knight, Lee Bailey and Chris Fowler also are improved.
Looks as if Country Day could be celebrating again in East Lansing come March.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Can an outdoor hockey game happen at a high school stadium?
Since it was bitter cold and there was nothing else to do in his cave this weekend, Kosmo decided what better way to pass the time than watch a little TV. OK, so it was a lot.
On Saturday, Kosmo happened to tune in to the outdoor hockey game at Michigan between U-M and Michigan State, which drew a record crowd of over 113,000.
Seeing the game got Kosmo to thinking.
Could a local high school host an outdoor hockey game?
There was an outdoor game last year between Cranbrook and Catholic Central, but that was played at Clark Park in Detroit.
Kosmo is talking about a high school hosting a game at its football field.
There certainly are enough nice football stadiums around here that could host an event like that, and there definitely would be interest.
Of course, the problem would be money.
Someone out there would have to be gracious enough to donate a rink to put in a stadium without having the school pay a dime for it.
Maybe through advertising and tickets sales, a school can pay for the maintenance of it and ultimately make a profit from it.
Honestly, I don't blame athletic directors out there for thinking this is absurd. Those people obviously have way more business sense than Kosmo.
But the K-Man just thought he'd throw the idea out there in case it was something that could ever make sense.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Even more unforgettable experience for Oxford's Hague
On Thursday morning, the Oxford and Troy boys hockey teams had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they played in an outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium.
Oxford head coach Dave Hague organized the game and spent so many months planning for it, but ended up not being there.
However, it was for a good reason.
Hague's wife went into labor early Thursday morning, and she gave birth at about the time the puck dropped for the hockey game.
No doubt, it went from one unforgettable experience to another for Hague.
- Even though it's early, there will be a huge early season girls basketball showdown on Tuesday when arch rivals Troy and Troy Athens meet at Troy. Each team is undefeated so far and playing really well, so this rivalry game will have more significance than usual for the Colts and Red Hawks.
- A couple of things seemed to be evident from the Clarkston-Orchard Lake St. Mary's boys basketball game on Friday. One, Clarkston might not be so bad off in terms of inside play having to replace Matt Kamieniecki. 6-foot-6 Marcus Hardy looks much improved all around while Max Collins stepped up big time with 19 points. Two, St. Mary's looks as if it can be a threat in the Catholic League. Oakland Christian transfer Justin Barrows provides size in the post and a good shooting touch from the outside, Shaun Covington is a quick point guard and Allen Robinson should be on the state's best players once he comes back from injury. In other words, don't expect a 6-15 season again from St. Mary's.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Worthy cause Friday at Stoney Creek
Friday will be a neat occurrence at Stoney Creek High School when a $20,000 check will be presented to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. The donation is a result of the first annual "Pink Paws Project" that the Stoney Creek football team conducted in the Fall.
For Stoney Creek's football game against Oxford on Sept. 24, each team wore pink jerseys in honor of loved ones who have been affected by cancer.
Thanks to sponsorships secured by the players and cheerleaders and other fundraising efforts, $20,000 was raised and the check will be presented to the American Cancer Society at halftime of Stoney Creek's boys basketball game against Troy Athens on Friday.
It's a heartwarming story and a great gesture by the Stoney Creek football team, athletic department and community.
- So how's this for a season opener? Clarkston and Orchard Lake St. Mary's are annually two of the area's best boys basketball teams, and the two will have a rare game against each other when they each play their season-opening game against the other at Clarkston on Friday. It's the first time the Wolves and Eaglets have played since 2004, and Kosmo hopes there are more meetings in the future because they are class programs with great coaches that have a lot of respect for one another. It should be a fun game for all in attendance.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Look out for Ferndale
Before last season, the best thing Ferndale basketball was known for was having some legendary teams in the 1960's and having the Ernie Harwell of public address announcers, the one and only Joe Mahan.
But the Eagles had a tremendous turnaround last season under first-year head coach Tom Staton, and things could be even better this year.
Ferndale opened up its season with an overtime win over Waterford Mott on Tuesday, in the process showcasing why it will be a team to be reckoned with.
The Eagles are in the OAA White, but if they were in the league's top division, the OAA Red, they could give teams like Southfield, Clarkston and Pontiac some trouble.
Ferndale plays an aggressive, up-tempo system that presses opponents defensively and lights up the scoreboard on offense.
The scary part is that it'll get even better for Ferndale come January when one of the county's best player, Joe Baker, becomes eligible via a transfer.
There are a lot of traditional powers that will be good this year in the county. But look for Ferndale to continue its rapid ascent and join the area's elite.
— Look in Friday's issue of the Oakland Press and Thursday night on MiPrepZone.com for Kosmo's first basketball column of the season. He's been on a brief hiatus since football season, but will shine the Krystal ball once again.
Monday, December 6, 2010
OLSM's Robinson commits
One of the top football players in the state has decided on where he'll play in college. Orchard Lake St. Mary's senior Allen Robinson, a wide receiver/defensive back who had almost 700 yards receiving and returned three punts for touchdowns, committed to Penn State last week.
The Nittany Lions seemed to be the big school on the trail of Robinson all season long, and they'll no doubt be lucky to have the tall, speedy and explosive leaper on their roster.
As hard as it is to believe, it's just two months until national signing day for football players around the country, so expect more commitments to filter in over the coming weeks.
- On Thursday, Oxford and Troy's boys hockey teams will have get to experience something many don't in their lifetime's. The Colts and Wildcats will play an outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The ice is already set up for Michigan and Michigan State's outdoor game on Saturday, so Oxford and Troy will give the ice a nice little warm-up.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Kosmo's postseason football awards
Hopefully everyone has read Sunday's copy of the Oakland Press or looked on MiPrepZone.com and read the unveiling of this year's all-county football team.
Kosmo certainly was glued to it in his cave, and to supplement that, your seer is here to present his own postseason awards for the football season.
Team of the year - That honor would go to Farmington Hills Harrison, the Division 2 state champions. Yes, Lake Orion was probably the best story with the Dragons winning their first ever state title in Division 1, but those in Lake Orion can't argue with the fact that Harrison went 14-0 and beat Lake Orion, 28-6.
Game of the year - Harrison vs. Birmingham Brother Rice in a first-round game. As it turns out, this might have been a de facto state title game. These were the two hottest teams in the state and it was unfortunate they had to play right off of the bat. The game indeed lived up to the hype, and Brother Rice seemed to be in firm control with a 27-22 lead and the ball in Harrison territory with over 2 minutes left. But a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Jake Vento and a subsequent interception return for a touchdown by Aaron Burbridge allowed Harrison to survive and eventually win a state title.
Player of the year - Marques Stevenson, Lake Orion. No player in the state meant more to his team than Stevenson. When starting quarterback Sean Charette suffered a season-ending ankle injury in a regional final against Utica Eisenhower, Stevenson and Lake Orion's offensive line stepped up. Stevenson ran for 190 yards in a state semifinal against Detroit Cass Tech and for 186 yards in the final against Plymouth. He was as clutch as can be.
Coach of the year - Todd Schultz, North Farmington. No debating the choice in the Oakland Press today. Schultz should be coach of the year in the state with how he bravely continued to coach after being diagnosed with cancer right when the season started. He inspired so many and taught more life lessons than one can imagine.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Best wishes to Novi's Fisette
As is usually the case with beloved coaches who retire, Kosmo was both happy and sad to find out the other day that Novi volleyball coach Julie Fisette had decided to step down after 19 years at the helm.
It's good that Fisette has earned a chance to take a break from the rigors of coaching, but sad because she'll be missed.
Fisette did an incredible job at Novi, building the Wildcats into an annual county and state power.
Novi advanced to the state semifinals in 2007 and won the KLAA championship this year, eventually falling in five games to state runner-up Farmington Hills Mercy in a regional final.
She'll be missed and set quite a standard for future Novi coaches to follow.
— It's been a strange sight to see girls basketball teams in the OAA open up their season with league games, but that's been the case. Six OAA Red teams opened the year playing league games against each other, and there will be another important league game on Friday when Stoney Creek travels to Troy Athens. So much for having non-league games to get warmed up. These teams had to be ready to go right off of the bat.