Blogs > Burney's Bites

Burney's Bites will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Training Camp Report - Roughriders Mount Up For Title Shot

Talent and experience on the soccer field is rich and plenty over at Birmingham Roeper this season.  With the majority of the team's starters returning from last year's district championship squad, the Roughriders are one of the favorites to win the MIAC, the premiere small school soccer conference in the state, in 2009. It will be no easy task though, as the MIAC has added a number of new schools with competitive soccer programs and is the home to the 2008 Division 4 state champion, Oakland Christian Lancers. The 'Riders and head coach, Ed Sack, know the road ahead of them is going to be a tough one, but they are embracing the challenge, evidenced by the hard work the team was exerting at a practice I stopped by this week 

Sack, a former college soccer stud in his own right at Eastern Michigan back in the 1980's, thinks this team could end up being one of his best ever. Taking over the perennial state power in 1998 from former University of Michigan head coach Mike Ruddy - who took the program to a state final and back-to-back final four appearances in the mid-90's and three straight quarterfinals appearances in the 1980's - Sack has maintained the winning tradition, having claimed five district titles and two regional crowns in his tenure so far. "These kids have the skill and the heart to do some real damage on the field this year," he said. "Playing in this league makes you tough and we know every time we go out there its a prove yourself type of a game."

The high-scoring trio of seniors Carter Sims and Ryan Zinser and junior Warner Roenecki will provide the bulk of the Roughriders' fast-paced offensive assault. Roenecki has a serious nose for the net and had 15 goals and nine assists as a sophomore last season, second on the team to only senior all-stater Brad George, who scored 26 goals and missed a third of the year due to injury. Sims is a dynamic ball handler, who can control tempo from his spot as an athletic attacking mid-fielder. Zinser is one of the hardest working athletes in the county and like Roenecki, exhibits the rare skill to always manage to be around the ball and the goal at the most opportune times.

The Roeper defense will be headlined by all-state senior sweeper Jacob Saslow, senior goalie Cole Stasek, and the Vellette Brothers, sophomore Jordan, the squad's stopper, and freshman David Vellette, who has earned a starting spot at defensive midfield. Saslow is the team's captain and coach on the field. Sack calls him, "the best leader I've ever coached.". Stasek, a three year starter, is in the upper-echelon of the conference in netminders. He's big - 6-5 - and athletically savvy and will keep opposing forwards honest with his long wing span. The Vellettes, both small in stature, each have big time on-field IQ's and use their lack of size to their advantage. 

If Thursday's pre-season scrimmage against Division One foe, Waterford Mott, is any indication, the Roughriders could be in for one heck of a campaign. Roeper blitzkrieged past Mott 5-1, dominating the game from start to finish. Sims and Roenecki each had two goals apiece and Saslow chipped in with one as well.   


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