Future Blue Originals: Harrison vs. Brother Rice and Pioneer vs. Bedford Comment Count

Ace November 7th, 2011 at 12:36 PM

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.

Photo Gallery:

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.

Game Summary

Pioneer took down Temperance Bedford, 35-10, thanks to a dominant performance from senior running back Drake Johnson, an elite track athlete who some have argued should earn a scholarship offer from Michigan should the Wolverines miss out on Bri'onte Dunn. Looking at Johnson's numbers, it's easy to see why—Pioneer gave him the ball on nearly every snap, and he finished with 348 yards and four touchdowns—from 28, 1, 2, and 95 yards—on 36(!) carries while also completing his only pass attempt for a 42-yard gain. The numbers are a bit deceiving—the 95-yarder came after the game was pretty much decided—but it was still a very strong effort, though I was not very impressed by Bedford's defense.


As a Pioneer grad, I hate to say this, but Johnson looked to me like a track athlete playing football, and not a player who should garner a BCS-level scholarship offer. His straight-ahead speed is very good, and that's all he needed against Bedford, but Johnson practically has to stop running entirely to make a cut—he really doesn't have any juke moves, instead choosing to bounce outside and run as fast as he can—and he also fumbled the ball three times (losing one) despite not taking any huge hits.

While Johnson usually fell forward, he also tended to go down on first contact, and instead of taking on hits he'd try to spin off contact, even against smaller defenders. The only time he really fought for extra yards, he ended up fumbling—he often carries the ball away from his body and seems to forget about ball security when he's in traffic. Pioneer listed him at 6'1", 215, and Scout has him in that same range, but he looked closer to 5'11", 190 to me (comparing him to his teammates and using the same roster, so take that with a grain of salt). Johnson is a heck of a high school player, and he's tasked with being the entirety of the Pioneer offense, but I see him as a preferred walk-on at best for Michigan.



November 7th, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

Oops, good call. Was supposed to be Lorenzo Collins. I mean, all running backs are the same, right?

/watches Michigan, never says that again


November 7th, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^

Rice should have beaten Harrison last year if not for a very questionnable fumble call. This year Rice lost three of their four games by only four points. I am not convinced that Harrison would have beaten the warrirors even if Vento had been healthy and Ojemudia had not sat out the first half. I understand that Harrison is a very, very good team - but never count out a CHSL team like Rice or CC in a big game.


November 7th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Did not mean to insinuite that Rice shouldn't have won the game or anything—they totally dominated from start to finish in pretty much every facet. I was more surprised by the final margin, and the fact that Harrison couldn't find a way to get the ball into Aaron Burbridge's hands with any consistency—he had four catches for 73 yards and a TD, but I thought Harrison called far too few plays in which he could get the ball on a short route and run, since their backup QB wasn't doing well at all throwing downfield.

Brother Rice is a very good team, and I could easily see them winning the state title after that performance. This game just would've been a lot closer (though still quite competitive, and with the way BR dominated the trenches I'd say the Warriors would still have won) if Vento could've gone and Ojemudia played the first half.


November 7th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

Ha, didn't mean to come off that strong. Name actually has nothing to do with Brother Rice. I went to the BR-FHH game last year though and I truly believe that the fumble was a bad call. Was not trying to discredit Ace's review or anything like that. For the record, I think Rice's other loss was by a couple of tds. I guess I was more trying to provide a reason as to why the result occurred and why I did not find it that surprising. 


btw Ace thanks for the reviews of the games and the work you do.


November 7th, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

This reminds me of another guy who was too small ... 5'11 and 175 pounds ... had the same knock ... was more of a track athlete playing football ... tended too have trouble carrying the ball and fumbling issues .. never garnered any stars on scout and was a 2 star on rivals and both had him NR ... what's his name .... he went to ECU and then has had a decent career ... Chris Johnson

Then there's guys like Ryan Matthews .. DeAngelo Williams .. Matt Forte ... all lower rated players for various reasons


November 7th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

Let it go.  Finding sleepers will happen but recruiting is a numbers game, if the coaches aren't seeing what they want to see in Johnson's game then so be it.  Ace was reporting his impressions and to me it sounds like Johnson is like the star of my highschool team.  All kinds of track speed, but no shake.  The guy went on to be a JuCo All-American kick returner, but nothing beyond that. 


November 7th, 2011 at 1:42 PM ^

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, although for every Johnson/Matthews/Williams/Forte, there are hundreds—if not thousands—of guys who put up huge numbers in high school, don't garner high ratings or big-time offers, and fade into football obscurity.

I'm of the opinion that a player who must come to a complete stop to make a cut is not a Michigan-caliber running back. Sorry to disappoint. I have no reason not to want the kid to succeed, especially since I went to Pioneer, but I just don't see it happening at the BCS level. Chris Johnson's ability to juke is on another planet compared to Drake Johnson, and he's much faster, too.


November 7th, 2011 at 5:52 PM ^

I agree he has issues with holding onto the ball .. correctable with good coaching .. I do feel like he takes contact and keeps going .. evidenced by his 2011 highlight tape on youtube. He definitely runs outside a lot, as do many high school kids who are faster than everyone else on the field.


Also, for every Big Will Campbell there is a Jerel Worthy ... for every JT Turner there is a Prince Amukamara . for every Brandon Smith there is a Jordan Kovacs ... for every Boubacar Cissoko there is a Johnny Adams ... for every Laterryal Savoy there is a Marvin McNutt .. for every Sam McGuffie there is a Mikel LeShoure ... Point is ... just as many 4 and 5 stars flop as 2 and 3 stars flourish. It's all about coaching the kids up at the next level. Give me a kid with 3,000 yards and 40 TD's with great athletic ability, straight line speed, and some fumbling issues all day. The way a kid carries the ball is easily corrected.


Stars mean next to nothing ... look at our team Martavious Odoms was a 3 star .. Omameh a 2 star Jr Hemingway a 3 star  Mark Huyge a 3 star Troy Woolfolk a 3 star  Jordan Kovacs a walk on Thomas Gordon a 2 star  JT Floyd a 3 star  Brandin Hawthorne a 3 star  Vincent Smith a 3 star  Courtney Avery a 3 star  Drew Dileo a 3 star  Stephen Hopkins a 3 star  Jake Ryan a 3 star   Jibreel Black a 3 star  Desmond Morgan a 3 star ... these are rivals ratings


We have as many 3 stars starting as we do 4 and 5 stars, and have quite a few 4 stars backing up 3 stars .. And we have a competitive team led by great coaching. The point is it all comes down to what kind of intangibles a kid has, and how much coaching it will take to get that kid to the next level. Everyone puts way too much stock into stars .. when you actually look into teams ... a lot of their better players are 2 and 3 star athletes.


November 8th, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

The whole "everyone puts way too much stock into stars" argument has been played out over and over here on MGoBlog.  What is clear is that there is statistical data that higher rated high school players end up being higher rated college players.  Of course there are always exceptions.  You could name them until you are blue in the face.  But the star rating system is what is used to rate high school talent and Johnson was rated a 3-star for a reason.  Will he play like a 3-star in college?  Who knows, but it is what it is - speculation of his worth at the college level based on his high school performance will always be flawed.

(And you didn't really help your point by mentioning all of the average to above-average 3-star players on the Michigan roster.  While Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan have yet to play out, the others have proven their worth (no doubt about it!!!) but do not prove your point that lower rated players can become elite stars.  I say this tongue-in-cheek becase two of my favorite players are on your list.)


November 7th, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

Chill out man, don't you see how many top recruits we are in on with very few spots left? Why would we spend a scholarship on this guy when we could very likely close the class out with all 4 stars, maybe even a 5 star RB. We aren't even desperate for a RB, so I would just give up hope of him recieving a scholarship. Besides, this board has no influence on what the coaching staff decides. Your friend will be fine, he has a scholarship to EMU, which honestly looks to be on the rise. Think about it this way, if you didn't know Drake Johnson, would you give him a scholarship knowing you could end up with a 5 star RB?


November 7th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

Ace what have you heard about Jon Reschke.  I read a headline the other day on 247sports that said something like, "Reschke nearing a decision."  It was behind a paywall so I had no idea what that meant and it was written by a sparty guy. 

I know that his dad played at msu and I heard that he is a strong lean, but I also heard that he really like ND.  I also thought that it was strange that he is nearing a decision considering he only has two offers.  Does that mean he is that big of a sparty lean?


November 7th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

State has had a big edge for him since the jump, and unfortunately I'd be surprised if he ends up elsewhere. Michigan is still going after him, though, and he hasn't set any timeline in stone. I'm working on getting a hold of Jon for an interview, so we'll see if I can get some more out of him sometime before his season is over.


November 7th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

Oh, and for people wondering (forgot to add this section), I'll be at Lake Shore HS on Friday to watch Cass Tech (Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, 2013 DB Jourdan Lewis) vs. Warren De La Salle (Shane Morris).


November 7th, 2011 at 4:45 PM ^

Just wondering how you felt that he did. Ther still seems to be some murmurs about his recruitment, and even if he still is going to State it's nice to keep tabs on their guys when possible.