As you can see, "Creeper Van Originals" is now "Future Blue Originals," because it turns out high school administrators sometimes read this stuff and may miss the tongue-in-cheek humor of the former title. As I would like to get continued access to high school games, CVO is now FBO. Also, there is no video this week, as the MHSAA won't credential MGoBlog for filming the playoffs because, in their words, we are a "fan site" and therefore are not granted press access. Trust me, this was fantastic news to hear on a Friday—aka the day I planned to film at Pioneer—after attempting to get in contact with them all week. Bitter? Oh, not at all.
ANYWAYS, I was able to make it to two games this weekend, the first to see running back Drake Johnson and my old high school, Ann Arbor Pioneer, take on Temperance Bedford, the second to watch commits Mario Ojemudia and Devin Funchess as well as recruits Jon Reschke and
Drake Johnson Lorenzo Collins as Farmington Hills Harrison took on Brother Rice in a much-hyped district final.
First, I'll cover the big upset—Brother Rice took down defending Division 2 state champ Harrison, 30-7, to hand the top-ranked Hawks their first loss of the season and eliminate them from the playoffs. This was a surprise, as Harrison has been nationally ranked for much of the year while Brother Rice had four losses, but the Hawks were without quarterback/safety Jake Vento due to injury and Ojemudia missed the first-half thanks to a dubiously-timed suspension for wearing pads at a summer camp, a violation of MHSAA rules. Highlights normally go here, but instead here's a photo of Brother Rice junior linebacker Jon Reschke, who had a phenomenal game:
Devin Funchess (Harrison TE #5, 2012 commit): Funchess came out strong early, recording his lone reception in the first half on a 21-yard catch-and-run that showed off his soft hands, good speed for his size, and ability to pick up yards after the catch. He nearly had the most impressive play of the night, skying to high-point a lob at midfield, but he came down hard and had the ball raked out by a BR defender. To add injury to insult, Funchess came up limping after the play, and while he gamely continued to play on both sides of the ball (he had three tackles and a TFL playing LB/DE, by my count)—the injury clearly affected his mobility, though he showed a lot of toughness by playing all-out in a losing effort despite limping off the field in obvious pain after several drives.
Mario Ojemudia (Harrison DE #53, 2012 commit): As stated earlier, Ojemudia had to sit out the first half because of his suspension, and by the time he saw his first snap Harrison was already down 10-0 and had just allowed a 70-yard kickoff return deep into Hawk territory to open the second half. You could tell Ojemudia was trying to shake off the rust after sitting for so long, and while he was able to get some penetration into the Brother Rice backfield, the Warriors spent most of the second half running clock—staying away from Ojemudia in the process. This was not a good game to evaluate Ojemudia for reasons largely outside his control, but his dominance this season speaks for itself.
Lorenzo Collins (Harrison RB #20, 2014 recruit): Collins has been a sophomore sensation for the Hawks, but he was largely held in check this game thanks to a very strong Brother Rice defense and the fact that Harrison had to play catch-up for essentially the whole game. 247Sports lists Collins, who finished with 40 yards on 12 carries, at 6'0", 200 pounds, though he looked a little smaller to me, though keep in mind he's just a sophomore. While he was largely limited, Collins did display the speed and agility that make him a player to watch in the future, including juking Reschke in the hole on one first-half carry and forcing a complete whiff, the only time I saw a Harrison player get past the Warrior linebacker. If Collins adds a little bulk and improves his ball security—Reschke forced him to fumble later in the half, though Harrison recovered—he should be a prospect who gets serious consideration for a four-star rating. He does have a bit of the Michael Shaw bouncebouncebouncebounce tendency, and doesn't display much power just yet (though he usually finds a way to fall forward), but again, we're talking about a high school sophomore.
Jon Reschke (Brother Rice LB #48, 2013 recruit): Reschke was the most impressive player on the field on Saturday, recording what must have been double-digit tackles (I lost count while trying to take some photos) and at least one tackle for loss to go along with the forced fumble. Reschke was always around the ball and had a displayed great instincts in finding the fastest path to the ballcarrier, and when he hit, you could hear it—Brady Hoke would likely be able to distinguish a Reschke tackle from those of his teammates without opening his eyes. Playing outside linebacker and a little bit of defensive end, Reschke chased down plays from sideline to sideline and never appeared out of position. He did get juked the one time by Collins, but otherwise kept plays in front of him, and looked like he's earned every bit of the early hype coming his way.
Apologies for the lack of action shots, but I accidentally had the camera on the wrong setting for much of the second half—when I meandered down to the sideline from the bleachers—and came out with a bunch of blurry photos.
After the jump, get my impressions on Drake Johnson after his statistically-ridiculous effort against Bedford.
This week on Weekday Warriors, Pharaoh Brown once again makes us all wonder if he could be a college tight end, a now-healthy Sione Houma puts up big numbers, suplexes abound thanks to Ondre Pipkins and Chris Wormley, and Jarrod Wilson comes through in all phases of the game for Buchtel.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell amassed 358 rushing yards en route to a 35-0 victory over Pope John Paul II, giving them a 5-5 regular season record.
This week: The Big Red travel to Briarcrest Christian on Saturday for a first-round playoff game.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden's Colerain squad defeated Caleb Stacey and Oak Hills, 40-14, to improve to 9-1 heading into the playoffs.
This week: The Cardinals host Walnut Hills on Saturday at 7 in a first-round playoff game.
MI OL Ben Braden
Top-ranked Rockford squeaked by West Ottawa, 17-10, in their opening-round playoff matchup.
This week: Rockford hosts Grand Ledge on Friday at 7 in their district final.
Pharaoh Brown (in white, above) is being recruited as a DE, but he's been putting up numbers on offense for Brush.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Once again, Brown came through with a big offensive performance, albeit in a losing effort, as he recorded nine catches for 105 yards as Brush fell 41-27 to Garfield Heights.
This week: The Arcs finish the season with a 4-6 record.
KY S Jeremy Clark
No stats to report for Clark as North Hopkins defeated Crittenden County, 49-0, to move to 8-2 on the year.
This week: The Maroons open their playoff slate on Friday at home against Allen County.
MI TE Devin Funchess
Funchess had two receptions for 19 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown catch, as top-ranked Harrison shut out Birmingham Seaholm, 35-0, in the opening round of the state playoffs.
This week: Harrison hosts Birmingham Brother Rice on Saturday at 7 in the district final. I'll be at this one.
OH S Allen Gant
Southview capped off a 9-1 regular season with a 35-6 victory over rival Northview, winning the Northern Lakes League title for the fifth straight year.
This week: The Cougars host McKinley on Saturday at 7 in the first round of the state playoffs.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin recorded ten tackles and four QB hurries as Cathlic Central crushed Northville, 56-6, to kick off their state playoff run.
This week: The Shamrocks host Canton on Saturday at 1 in their district final.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma, who has been limited by injuries, came off a bye week and racked up 178 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries to propel Highland to a 42-20 first-round playoff victory over Maple Mountain, going through two jerseys in the process:
“We worked hard in practice all week and just wanted to have another Monday with practice,” said Houma, who had to switch to the No. 3 jersey after his usual No. 35 ripped in the second quarter. “The touchdowns all go to the offensive line —those guys make things happen.”
Very fullback-y of you, Sione.
This week: The Rams play at Logan on Friday at 5 in the second round of the state tournament.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone returned from a deep thigh bruise to record a big fourth-down sack and plunge four yards for a rushing touchdown as Cass Tech defeated Livonia Churchill, 35-6, to open the state playoffs.
This week: The Technicians host Dearborn Fordson on Saturday at 1 in the district title game.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Defending state champ St. Edward finished the regular season at a disappointing 7-3 after losing to St. Ignatius, 20-17, on Saturday.
This week: The loss dropped the Eagles to the six-seed in their region, where they will play three-seed Cleveland Heights in the first round of the state tourney on Saturday at 7.
Multiple suplexes (seriously) and the rest of the recruiting updates after the jump.
The first time The Van made a trip down to Toledo to see Chris Wormley, Whitmer played an overmatched, undersized, and generally overwhelmed team of Canadians, making it somewhat difficult for your intrepid recruiting analyst to really get a decent scouting report on Wormley. So on Friday I returned to Whitmer once again to see the undefeated Panthers take on rival Central Catholic—who were 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference—with the chance to win the TRAC title outright. Whitmer didn't disappoint their home crowd, who packed the house and saw the Panthers jump out to a 31-7 lead en route to a 38-21 victory, capping off a perfect 10-0 regular season.
Wormley's physical talents were on display, but he had his ups and downs and didn't have a spectacular game statistically, recording two solo tackles (one TFL), three assists, and a couple QB hurries. CC did their best to avoid his side of the field when running, and their quick passing game didn't allow many pass rushing opportunities. Here's the highlight reel, set to the theme song from Halloween, which Whitmer's PA guy awesomely played before critical defensive plays (you can hear the tail end of just that on the very first clip):
Chris Wormley: The knock on Wormley has been his lack of a consistent motor, but that wasn't at all an issue in this game—he was quick off the line and very aggressive in pursuit (sometimes too much so). While this was promising from an effort standpoint, it did bring up some issues, mainly in identifying plays. I had a quick, mid-game Twitter conversation at halftime with Rivals midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, who was also at the game, and we agreed that Wormley has to do a better job diagnosing plays—there were several instances in which he beat his blocker and went tearing after the running back or quarterback, only to realize that the ball was in another place entirely. Part of this may have been coaching, as it looked like he was supposed to crash down the line on zone reads, with the linebacker scraping over the top, but there were too many instances in which CC took advantage of Wormley's aggressiveness—utilizing misdirection runs, QB keepers, and screens/shovel passes—for it to be just a coaching issue.
That said, Wormley's physical abilities make him a tantalizing prospect, and I can't shake the notion that with some coaching up on technique he could be a real force. His size and strength are obvious (just take a look at the film, most notably at the 1:54 mark, when he makes his TFL by essentially suplexing the running back), and he had enough good plays from an assignment standpoint—holding contain on the running back, for example—that I think his impact would greatly increase just by virtue of the transition to being coached by Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery.
Wormley's best way to get penetration was to simply run right around his blocker, and while this was nice to see in terms of evaluating his quickness, it brings up another point of concern—how is a 6'6", 270-pound Michigan-bound DE not completely flattening the 6'2", 225-pound offensive tackle across from him with malicious regularity? Again, motor wasn't the issue, but instead pad level; Wormley can get low on occasion, but several times he stood right up off the snap and let the tackle get right into him, turning him into a non-factor. This is more disconcerting to me than the questions about his motor, especially if Wormley ends up moving inside at the next level. Anyone who's watched Will Campbell knows the importance of pad level, and also how difficult it can be for a big, tall lineman to correct that issue.
I don't want to sound down on Wormley, as I really think he could turn into a star if he fixes his pad level and improves on his technique (the play diagnosis I think comes down to coaching—Chris is a bright kid), but I'm not sure he'll be able to come in and be a big contributor right off the bat, as many have hoped. I think it's more realistic to expect Wormley to take a year or two to work his way into the rotation as he learns to get low and figures out where he best fits along the defensive line. From there, just about anything can happen—Wormley looks like a boom-or-bust type, and I honestly can't say which way I think it'll go. If I had to choose, I'd say he'll end up being quite good, simply because it's rare for a player to have his frame and physical talents out of high school while also having so much room to add pounds and get even stronger.
I also had the chance to catch up with Chris and interview him after the game, though unfortunately there's no transcript, as the audio on my recorder was rendered unlistenable thanks to the RAWK blaring over the speakers where we were talking (I'd say Special K has a side job, but this guy had much better taste in music). Wormley slightly tweaked his ankle and calf on the aforementioned suplex, but continued to play (and play pretty well) afterwards and said he'll be fine for next week when the OHSAA playoffs begin. He was extremely happy with his team's performance for both the game and the season, and he also mentioned that he keeps in contact with several other commits, mostly over Twitter during the season. This Whitmer team may be the best in the state, and it's clear that nothing less than the state title will satisfy Wormley or his team.
Jayme Thompson: I wanted to quickly note the play of Central Catholic junior safety Jayme Thompson, who visited Ann Arbor for Saturday's game ($, info in header) and has a good shot at earning a scholarship offer. The CC roster listed him at 6'1", 180 pounds, which looked about right to me, and he's got very good speed and fluid movement for a safety at his size. I didn't get a chance to focus on him too much in coverage, though he looked solid in that regard, but what I was most impressed with was his run support—he came up and laid a couple big hits in the open field, the type that elicit that instinctual "ooooooohh" from the crowd. Thompson definitely has BCS-level talent, and it'll be interesting to see if Michigan likes him enough to extend an offer to another safety considering Dymonte Thomas's early commitment and the small number of spots expected for the 2013 class.
I haven't had a chance to look at the playoff matchups this week, so right now I have no clue where I'll be going on Friday. I would make up for missing Kyle Kalis's game two weekends ago, but he's playing on Saturday night and driving to Cleveland would cause me to miss at least a large chunk of the Michigan game, which isn't an option. If you see a matchup you'd like for me to head to, chime in with a comment below.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' discusses Jordan Payton's upcoming decision (again), big news coming from both Josh Garnett and Zach Banner, the next great Michigan nickname, several new 2013 offers, and BREAKING Mitch McGary news. Usual request: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Rounding Out the 2012 Class
With the addition of Jeremy Clark to the 2012 class (more on that later), Michigan now has 23 commitments and five spots to fill—probably with two receivers, and offensive lineman, a running back, and perhaps a defensive back. How will they round out the class? I guess this is a good place to start:
That's four-star CA wideout Jordan Payton, of course, who decided—after visiting Notre Dame for the USC game last weekend—to push back his planned announcement from Tuesday to some time in the next two weeks. After the visit to South Bend, Payton claims that Michigan and Notre Dame are "tied" for the lead in his recruitment ($, info in header) after he had maintained that Michigan was his clear leader heading into the weekend. While this could be cause for a meltdown, I wouldn't get too worried—Payton is taking the time to gather his thoughts after a big visit, and I still think Michigan is in great position to land him whenever he decides to make his choice. Notre Dame always come back right at the end, right?
In more encouraging news, Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has set one official visit, and, well, you see where this is going [emphasis mine]...
"I'm going to Michigan on Nov. 19 when they play Nebraska," Garnett said. "I'm also going to visit Miami at some point also. I'm thinking pretty seriously about visiting Oklahoma too."
One school is showing Garnett more attention than the others.
"Cal is recruiting me the hardest by far," he said. "Coach (Tosh) Lupoi is the lead recruiter but all of their coaches are in contact with me. They are definitely showing me a lot of love."
Garnett is working down his list of 11 programs but said he has no favorites at this time among the group. Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Auburn and Notre Dame are a few other programs on the list.
While this by no means indicates that Michigan is his leader (one look at the quote about Cal should dispel that notion), Garnett coming to Ann Arbor is certainly a good sign, and anything can happen once a recruit gets on campus. [Morning edit: Of course, just before I go to sleep last night a new Garnett article pops up on Scout in which he says he "may" make it to Ann Arbor for the Nebraska game ($), so we'll have to wait and see if this one really happens. Encouraging news is slightly less encouraging, but still, I think, encouraging.]
Meanwhile, Garnett's fellow blue-chip Washingtonian lineman, Zach Banner, has been the center of attention this past week, and he named his top five schools ($, video embedded below) before heading to Notre Dame for an official visit:
For those who don't feel like clicking on the video, Michigan made his final five along with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Washington. If you head over to Oklahoma's Rivals site, you'll see (at the moment I'm writing this, at least) a big fat headline proclaiming "Sooners On Top" linking to an article that claims Oklahoma leads for Banner ($, info in header), with extensive quotes from the recruit about how well his visit went. While I usually don't blockquote from premium articles, there's been genuine debate about how to interpret this quote, which comes off as a bit of a leading question from the interviewer but also seems to point to Oklahoma leading:
So is it fair to say that Oklahoma is currently the leader and Washington and USC will have to show him something that surpasses what he saw at Oklahoma?
"Yeah," he said plainly. "All five of them are going to be completely involved but I'm still taking my USC and (Washington) visits but if you were going to ask me who I'd bet on, Oklahoma has a good chance."
Interpret that how you will, but obviously Michigan is still in it, though they might have some ground to cover. Just as notable, IMO, is Banner saying he'll announce his decision date (note: not make his actual decision, just to be abundantly clear) this Saturday, at his Army All-American ceremony.
There are other options on the offensive line, as well. TomVH caught up with Jordan Diamond, and read his article ($) and check out the video interview (free) over at WolverineNation. Michigan is still among the schools Diamond is interested in, and he's been in contact with former Chicago Simeon teammate and current Wolverine Chris Bryant, but he says he has "no favorites" at this time and will not make a decision until signing day. After taking in the ND-USC game last weekend (along with every other top prospect on the planet, it seems), Diamond won't be making any other visits until after his season is over.
In related news, four-star OL and recent offeree Alex Kozan just picked up an offer from Ohio State ($, info in header). Michigan and OSU join a top group of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, LSU, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, and Illinois, but Kozan is looking to pare that list of nine down to three or four in the near future.
Also, five-star OL/DE Arik Armstead has indeed opened up his recruitment, but 247's J.C. Shurburtt says this is likely a battle between Cal and USC, and with no mention of Michigan they're a fringe contender at best. Don't hold your breath for this one.
For more on wide receiver recruiting, updates on current commits, 2013 news, and MITCH MCGARY'S FINAL THREE AND IMPENDING DECISION (*cough*), hit the jump.
My sincerest apologies for the lack of a Creeper Van Original post this week—my immune system decided to have its bye week coincide with Michigan's. This week on Weekday Warriors, commits square off for the Catholic League title, Shane Morris saves the day, and a bunch of guys sit out with injuries.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell (4-5) defeated McCallie, 24-21, in their penultimate regular season game.
This week: The Big Red will wrap up their season on Friday at Pope John Paul II.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Colerain faced off against a Hamilton squad that decided its best strategy would be to use up every possible second of the play clock in order to limit possessions and keep the Cardinals's potent offense off the field. While sound in theory, this didn't work so well in practice, as Bolden helped lead a defensive effort that held Hamilton to just 93 total yards in a 28-0 win.
This week: The Cardinals (8-1) travel to Oak Hills—Caleb Stacey's school—on Friday at 7:30 for their regular-season finale.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford amassed 271 rushing yards en route to a 35-0 victory, wrapping up the O-K Red title for the 8-1 Rams.
This week: Rockford hosts Holland West Ottawa on Friday at 7 in a first-round playoff game.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brown continued to impress on offense with a three-catch, 150-yard, two-touchdown performance to help Brush defeat Parma, 45-10, to improve to 4-0 in conference play.
This week: The Arcs (4-5) finish the regular season at Garfield Heights on Friday at 7.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Oh, hey, Clark is up here now. The newly-ungrayshirted commit didn't amass any offensive stats in a 13-10 loss to Lone Oak.
This week: The Maroons (7-2) play at Crittenden County on Friday.
MI TE Devin Funchess
No stats were available for Funchess, but he was not one of the eight(!) different Harrison players to score touchdowns as the Hawks finished the regular season undefeated with a 56-13 beatdown of Farmington.
This week: Harrison begins their march to the Division 2 state title at home against Birmingham Seaholm on Friday at 7. [Ed-M: the Maples are going to get crushed. /Groves]
OH S Allen Gant
Gant scored on a 23-yard reception to help lead Southview to a 50-29 victory over Springfield and claim their conference title outright.
This week: The Cougars (8-1) host cross-town rival Northview on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted that he finished with ten tackles and three TFL to lead Catholic Central to a 21-7 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the Prep Bowl, winning the Catholic League title and avenging last week's defeat at the hands of OLSM.
This week: The Shamrocks host Northville on Saturday at 1 in the first round of the state playoffs.
UT FB Sione Houma
Highland had a bye last week.
This week: The Rams take on Maple Mountain on Friday at 5 in the first round of the playoffs.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone sat out Cass Tech's 6-0 playoff-clinching victory over Renaissance with a deep thigh bruise ($, info in header).
This week: The Technicians will play at Livonia Churchill on Friday at 7 in the first round of the playoffs.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward bounced back from two straight losses with a 42-27 win over Cincinnati Moeller.
This week: The Eagles host St. Ignatius on Saturday at 7.
Detailed accounts of Eric Magnuson and Chris Wormley plus Shane Morris heroics after the jump.