Friday, October 31, 2008

Referees Weren't Always Faceless, Nameless Robots

Before we got ourselves in a big hurry to be professional referees, we used to be human beings with real jobs and real personalities. Don't construe that thought to mean referees haven't evolved for the better with a higher degree of professionalism. As a matter of record, quite to the contrary, we have. I'm saying that there was a day when it was accepted, even expected, to show your human side as you officiated a ball game.

If you have children who graduated from one of the high schools in Dearborn, you probably know of Arella Studios and owner Angelo Arella. Located near the intersection of Military and Michigan behind the train tracks, Arella's operation has been a Dearborn institution for over 70 years. But like so many of his peers, Arella remains a proud graduate of his high school, Dearborn's Fordson High, and he spun some yarn Tuesday of an official who was working for the downtown newspaper as he refereed a big ballgame and in the process, helped push a young teenager into a life as a photographer.
Working as a cub photographer for his school's yearbook, the Fleur De Lis, Arella was shooting a game between the Tractors and Grosse Pointe High from the endzone at Fordson. The Pointers held a 6-0 lead in the fourth quarter when Fordson began marching down the field late in the annual Border Cities League (BCL) game between the two rival schools. One of the game's officials was none other than George Maskin, who at that time worked on the sports staff as an editor for the now-defunct Detroit Times.
The drive culminated when the Fordson tailback thundered into the endzone to tie the game. As the extra point was being converted, Maskin shot a quick question toward the young journalist: "Hey kid, did you get that touchdown?" Arella replied, Yeah, I got the touchdown." So Maskin tells Arella to give him the plate and he'll run the picture in the paper tomorrow -- and pay him $15 to boot!
"I can't give you this plate. My father bought it for me and he'll never let me back in the house if I don't come home with it," Arella explained. "OK, kid, then come downtown tonight. You can produce the photo yourself, write the cutline and I'll make sure you get paid." Arella thought that was a fair deal until he arrived at the plant to find the paper's union members weren't so generous with him. "There was no way I was going to let one of them produce it because they would end up telling Maskin the plate was bad and there was no picture -- I knew that much was certain," Arella remembers. Anyway, Maskin asked Arella for all his information and ran the picture. Arella got a nice photo credit and got paid, too.
The next week, Arella was at home when the phone rang with a deep-throated, nameless voice on the other end.
"Hey kid, Inkster High is playing a big game tomorrow afternoon. We don't have anyone to shoot it. We could use two or three photos..." The caller hung up just as quickly. Arella immediately knew who it was and went down to shoot the game. In an amazing coincidence, his work was published in the Times, and he got paid again.
There's a lesson to be learned in all this. I wrote about connections earlier in the week with Paul Kinder, the former Dearborn HS basketball captain, (pictured above wearing the black jersey No. 14) being remembered as a highly-regarded sports official. That's Kinder and his Pioneers hosting city rival Edsel Ford in the 1955-56 season. It's a small world and we all have a contribution to make in our own, individual way. Sometimes, though, that gets stifled in our mission to be the good soldier.
Using today's standards in officiating, Maskin's advance might be seen as unscrupulous or unprofessional. In the 1950s, it was merely a guy just getting his day job done. But what did it do? It brought some good press to some students from Fordson and Grosse Pointe. It gave a young kid a sense of accomplishment. Today you can walk into Arella Studios and find a man who enjoys his work and remembers his time as a photo journalist with an easy smile.
Is that so bad?
Of course, with power comes responsibility. Some abuse it. Some use it to strong-arm others. Maskin? He was an editor who threw a kid a bone. More than 50 years later, it's another great story of how prep sports can positively affect someone.
Photo courtesy of The Lil' Cafe, on Michigan Avenue in downtown Dearborn, Michigan. The Lil' Cafe is home to the Dearborn High School Hall Of Fame.
~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, released in August '08 from Arcadia Publishing. A follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, is due in August 2009.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Not Just Dearborn; It's Deer-bern!

Today I did a little good will hunting at The Lil' Cafe on Michigan Avenue in downtown Dearborn at Pat Stagg's unofficial City of Dearborn High School Hall Of Fame.

The basketball book is in full research mode and although Dearborn won't have nearly the stake in the basketball book as it did in the football book, I still thought it prudent to look for a few compelling pictures, maybe a background or inset picture for the cover, perhaps. Plus it's really cool to root around in Stagg's restaurant and talk prep sports with all the fans over a plate of strawberry pancakes at three o'clock in the afternoon!

Are my sleep patterns messed up or what?

Anyway, the day's events brought me back to a quote from my friend Orlin Jones in Detroit, he of Pershing High track and field fame from the 1950s. To quote Jones, ever the historical collector: "There's always a connection in high school sports."

I've refereed basketball since 1988 when I was working for coach Roy Inglas on the recreational courts at basketball hotbed Vincennes University in Vincennes, Indiana. I returned to Michigan when I enrolled at Eastern Michigan University in the fall of 1990. Besides discovering the difference between junior college cross country and powerhouse, Division-I cross country, as well as the difference between a Huron and an Eagle, I learned about veteran MHSAA officials, the ones who wore the striped shirts that former EMU track coach Lloyd Olds invented nearly 80 years ago on the same Ypsilanti campus.

Guys like Paul Kinder, for example. Kinder was already long remembered for his acumen as an official rather than his days as a basketball captain on the Dearborn High team of 1955. Therefore, you can imagine the astonishment when I saw the picture of Kinder, a young, focused floor general in his testosterone days as a Dearborn Pioneer on the walls of the Lil Cafe today.

There was another photo of a hotly-contested game between Kinder's Pioneers and the Edsel Ford Thunderbirds that evoked The Orlin Jones Rule, if you will, that was discovered today. In the picture was a referee identified as Casey Lopata. Now, there aren't many Lopata households in metro Detroit, but there is a K.C. Lopata on the current University of Michigan football team, the same K.C. Lopata from the Farmington - Farmington Hills area. Many a Ford Motor Company employee moved from Dearborn in the late 50s and early 60s to the sticks of Farmington, Birmingham and Royal Oak.

Maybe it's all a huge coincidence, but my eye-opening experience with the football book tells me the chance that Lopata is related to the referee working this game I found in picture today is much greater than the chance he isn't.

There's always a connection, right?

Photo courtesy of the The Lil' Cafe, Dearborn, Michigan

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, available from retail and online merchants now. Cameron's second title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, is due in August 2009 from Arcadia Publishing.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Trvia Answers & Farmington's Unfathomable Comeback

With apologies to those I've kept in the dark (that's you, M.L.), here's the skinny on the trivia question I offered for five free books at my signing this past Thursday at the Bloomfield Hills Barnes & Noble.

Question No. 1: What metro Detroit high school did Al Fracassa coach at before assuming the football fortunes at Birmingham Brother Rice?

Fracassa was also the coach for the Knights of Royal Oak's Shrine High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Surprised? With Jim Manilla at Royal Oak High in the late 50s, and his stable of assistants that included 'Pin' Ryan, 'Ivy' Loftin, Paul Temerian and Frank Joranko, Royal Oak was a football hotspot during the high school sock-hop era.

In '62, Fracassa's Knights were 6-1-1. They tallied wins over notables like Detroit Holy Redeemer (15-0), Redford St, Mary's (19-0) and a 27-6 win over newly-opened Birmingham Groves. Shrine tied Detroit Servite in a 20-point stalemate for both teams. The only loss for Shrine was a 25-6 setback to Grosse Pointe St. Ambrose, which leads us to the conclusion of Question No. 2.

Question No. 2: What metro Detroit high school did George Perles lead before his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers and later, the Michigan State Spartans?

Perles was head coach at Grosse Pointe's St. Ambrose High. In '62, Perles and his Cavaliers went a perfect 9-0 in marching to the Catholic League championship and Goodfellows Game title. In that Goodfellows Game, St. Ambrose blanked the 8-0 Cardinals of Detroit Cooley, 19-0, on the floor of Tiger Stadium. It was the second-straight domination at 'The Corner' that day, because hours earlier, the Detroit Lions manhandled the previously-undefeated Green Bay Packers 26-14 in the now-famous Thanksgiving Day Massacre. The Lions sacked Hall-Of-Fame quarterback Bart Starr 11 times before the Cavaliers sacked Cooley's state championship dreams.

The state's Associated Press poll rewarded St. Ambrose, which closed in the spring of 1972, with the No. 3 ranking in the final Class B poll of '62. Also of note in Class B that year was West Bloomfield (7-0-1), which earned the 6th position, followed by Dearborn Divine Child (8th / 8-0) and Clawson High's Trojans, 10th with a record of 7-1.

Despite the loss, Detroit Cooley was awarded the No. 4 slot in the Class A poll in '62. Frank Joranko's Ferndale Eagles were sixth with the identical 8-1 record Ferndale High achieved this season. Hamtramck's Cosmos were 9th with a 7-1 slate and Seaholm was 10th at 8-1. Ann Arbor's Pioneer was the state champion in Class A for 1962.

The Fabulous Falcons! Perhaps the best story to emerge from the 2008 high school football season statewide might be the Farmington High Falcons. On September 12, Farmington was humiliated in a 63-0 loss to Rochester Adams High School, the Falcons' 15th-consecutive loss dating back to a 7-0 loss to Royal Oak's Ravens, coached by Terry Powers, on Oct 13, 2006.

I can't state for certain if it's ever happened before, because I don't have the time to go through the records of nearly 800 high schools, some closed many years ago, dating back to 1975, but I would imagine the list of schools who have lost 15 consecutive games in any stretch of seasons and found enough wins in any season to a) break the streak and b) make the playoffs is a short one.

In fact, if I were a betting man, and I'm not, I would say it's probably never happened before.

To pen a story that details 15 straight losses, capped by a 63-0 loss, followed by six-straight wins, including the school's first win over Farmington Hills Harrison in 31 seasons and a win over rival North Farmington to earn a state playoff berth, would probably get most Hollywood script writers laughed into the circular file.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction but no matter what happens to the Falcons in the playoffs, Farmington's revival is one of the great stories of Michigan's 2008-09 scholastic year.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Paul Bunyan Game: A State's Rite Of Passage

Michigan and Michigan State -- the state's great football game -- is upon us once again. Today Michigan's Wolverines host Michigan State's Spartans play on the weekend of the traditional high school rivalry week, the ninth week of the season. Is there a better week of football in the state of Michigan this side of Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie?

If nothing else, there's always room for another great story as it relates to the annual football game between the maize n' blue and green n' white. That lesson wasn't lost on those who attended the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association's (DSBA) annual media day for the 101st edition of the annual rivalry game Tuesday at Ginopolis Restaurant in Farmington Hills. The afternoon was filled with a lot of good-natured ribbing, some candid observations and some great stories and laughs.

Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Rich Strenger took up the Michigan cause while Spartan stalwart George Perles headlined the state of affairs for the green n' white. MSU's Sherm Lewis was a late scratch due to an unforeseen circumstance. The luncheon was a lot like a back-n-forth volley to prove state supremacy even before the ball gets kicked off Saturday in historic Michigan Stadium. And one other thing's for certain: There's both no memory and a lot of history that goes into this game when it takes center stage each year. Michigan State hasn't won since 2001; something the Michigan contingent didn't allow to be overlooked. At the same time, the Michigan State faithful are quick to point out that every year is a new year and another chance at redemption, in a very Brooklyn Dodger-kind of way.

Here are some of the highlights:

"I remember in 1983, my first year as head coach, we're playing Michigan up at our place and it's in the pregame when the coaches usually make small talk at midfield," Perles recalled of his first game with Michigan's legendary Bo Schembechler. "Instead, I told Bo, 'I'm nervous (about this game)". He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'You ought to be!'

Michigan won that '83 game 42-0. That was the infamous "We beat the pants off of them" game. When Perles was hired to assume the Spartan sideline, he immediately made the statement after his first year of recruiting that, "We beat the pants off the guys in Ann Arbor!" Of course, those recruits didn't get on the field much in Michigan's 42-0 win, but Perles also remembered something Bo said that endeared the gruff Michigan coach to him.

"When I got hired, he came right into his coaches' locker room and said, 'Boys, the picnic's over!", referencing the fact that Schembechler knew Perles would turn the MSU program into one that Michigan would have to contend with after several dormant years in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Of course, the Paul Bunyan Game -- the axe-wielding figure of the game's trophy -- is more than bragging rights. It's a season's redemption or re-birth. Sometimes it signals the end of the hopeful campaign for the loser. Usually both schools have played Notre Dame and each school awaits their season-ending rivalry game, with Michigan and Ohio State paired up annually and Michigan State's Land Grant Trophy game with Penn State as their season's natural bookend.

"People always bring up Ohio State, but I worried about Ohio State only after we played Michigan State," said former Wolverine tackle and current radio commentator Jim Brandstatter. "It's a game about mutual respect, especially for the guys from the state of Michigan. You have to remember, I played at East Lansing High School. My brother (Art) was a Spartan. My mother was left to wear maize n' blue - as only a mother could - among all those Spartan fans. I was playing classmates out there. To me, there was no bigger game on our schedule."

Perles, who champions his Motor City Bowl game on a near-daily basis, and Beckmann, the play-by-play voice of the Wolverines for 28 seasons, were the center of some verbal poke-n-jab when the discussion of Michigan's bowl prospects arose.

"Would Michigan go to the Motor City Bowl?" Beckmann asked rhetorically. "Absolutely -- as long as they don't have to play Toledo!" Beckmann said with a good-natured laugh. "Seriously, any coach in America would take those extra practices. Michigan's played four good quarters of football this year, but none of those quarters have come in the same game. You better believe Michigan would go. George, did you bring an application with you?"

Beckmann has become a bit of an YouTube sensation, with the emphasis depending on which color shirt you don during this game for his call of the final two plays of 2001's game. Spartan tailback T.J. Duckett caught a two-yard pass for the winning score after the clock was stopped with 0:01 left. The game even has a Wikipedia page titled Clockgate that details the Michigan frustration with the game's result, a 26-24 win for MSU.

Beckmann even goaded Perles to admit his famous pressbox quote from Spartan Stadium in the moments after that '01 game. "After Duckett caught that ball, George Perles walked out into the hallway and said, "Well, I guess Spartan Bob (then MSU's timekeeper) earned a game ball today -- isn't it true, George"

Perles, with a sly grin, replied, "Yes, it's true, although he doesn't get to keep the clock anymore these days," among a room full of laughter.

Finally, Beckmann made no apologies for his unabashed viewpoint of 2001's final two plays.
"We are advocates for our school," Beckmann said with an unwavering tone. "We are the broadcasters for the 12 games Michigan plays, just like George Blaha and Jim Miller (the MSU radio tandem) are for Michigan State."

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries. Cameron's blog, The Write Referee, is syndicated by 27 papers throughout Michigan by The Oakland Press. His second book, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, is due in September of 2009.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Come See Me Tonite: The Barnes & Noble in Bloomfield Hills @ 6 p.m.!

I'm at the Barnes & Noble on Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Hills, starting at 6 p.m., to sign copies of my book, Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries.

I'll give a FREE BOOK to the first five people who can tell me the correct answer to either of the following questions:

1. What Detroit-area high school did Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa coach at before he took over the Warrior sideline?

2. What now-closed Detroit-area high school team did George Perles command before he went to the Pittsburgh Steelers and later, Michigan State?

It's almost gift-giving season and nothing says, 'I have the holiday spirit!' like a football book about rivalries, the long-standing role prep football has played in our metropolitan communities, the games that have withstood the test of time and the great theater that is prep football.

Long live high school football!

DSBA: In other news, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association (DSBA) took a flyer on my Friday post and ran with it for their site as a review of the media luncheon they hosted for the Michigan - Michigan State game on Tuesday afternoon. It all went down at Ginopolis Restaurant in Farmington Hills at Twelve Mile and Middlebelt Road.

You can read the entire post of the Paul Bunyan Game throwdown here, or wait to read the post Friday here!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks For Taking The Time To Write!

I've received more than a few phone calls and e-mails regarding my book, Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries. Many of these communications have come from former coaches or players, or those close to the principle characters in the last 50 years of prep football. I have a long road to hoe to push my platform where I think it can go, but it's been such a fun ride, because you're only a first-time author once before the glow fades and the real work begins.

Of late I got a note from a Kathy Ryan, who married Mike Ryan, the eldest son of Prentice "Pin" Ryan, football coach at Royal Oak Kimball High School from 1957-64. Ryan parlayed eight years at Kimball, where he went 48-16-5, into an assistant coach's position at the University of Iowa under Jerry Burns. Burns is more famously remembered for coaching the Minnesota Vikings. Ryan was also a member of the University of Michigan's "lightweight" 150-pound football team in the 1950s as a collegiate player.

"We have been following your blog and are thrilled to see that the history of South Oakland football has not been forgotten. Football played an important role in the Ryan household," Kathy explained. "Besides Dad's coaching experiences, Mike played wingback and defensive cornerback at Kimball under Paul Temerian, and was named a Knotable Knight his senior year. He went on to play a year as defensive cornerback at Ferris State, and after switching to CMU, was an assistant to Roy Kramer.

"To carry on with the football mindset, our son David, a recent graduate of Western Michigan University, was a sportswriter for the Western Herald and is currently a writer/scout for New Era Scouting," Kathy wrote. "Dad continues to maintain close relationships with Ivy Loftin (Dondero), Herb Deromedi (Kimball / CMU), Chuck Skinner (Hazel Park / Seaholm), Jerry Burns and with some of his Michigan co-players. He still bleeds Maize n' Blue, too!"

I sent a complimentary copy of the book to Paul Carey as a thank you for the really cool introduction he wrote, and he responded with a really cool note in return. Of note was how sharp his memory is at the spry age of 80 in recalling the familiar names from his involvement in Detroit's prep football scene.

"When reading my introduction it came to me that the first player I gave the Thom McAn Award to was Joe Dayton of Detroit Denby... I wish I'd included a whole bunch on coaches who helped me in compiling my all-state nominations, too" Carey wrote.

You did, Paul, but space didn't allow me to list them all, so I'll do it here. The following individuals are hereby recognized by Paul Carey for all their help and dedication of high school football during his years at WJR:

Charlie Jestice, Tom Mach, Ron Thompson, John Goddard, Tom Moshimer, Nate Hampton, Jack Bridges, Andy Rio, Wes Wishart, Chuck Gordon, Bob LaPointe, Al Fracassa, Bob Dozier, Frank Sumbera, Jim McDougall, old friend Jack Castignola, Joe Hoskins, Russ Hepner, John Maronto, Jack Reardon, Bob Yauck, Rick Bly and Dick Comar.

Many others have taken the time to write of their memories of their school. From Grosse Pointe South to Allen Park, from South Lyon to Lake Orion and so many other schools in between.

In short, it's been a very cool fall, and the weather's been nice, too!

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, from Arcadia Publishing. The follow-up to the football book, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, will be out in September of 2009.

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Week Nine, Rivalries Renewed & The Paul Bunyan Game!

In a perfect world, this is what Week Nine of every high school football season would look like every fall.

Even in metro Detroit, with all the unemployment, foreclosure and economic uncertainty (which seems to be the only thing certain of late), this week of high school and college football is sweet. On Friday, a school's gridiron success is measured by either qualifying for the playoffs, beating your traditional rival, or quite possibly both. Saturday, Michigan State's Spartans meet Michigan's Wolverines in historic Michigan Stadium in the annual Paul Bunyan Trophy game.

Michigan-Michigan State should always be played in Week Nine of the prep season to highlight the traditional rivalry week, and on the eighth day, God created football, right? Plus anything would beat this past weekend, where four of the state's five BCS-eligible schools lost, and the only reason there was a win at all was because Western Michigan and Central Michigan played each other.

Tom Markowski's morning column in The Detroit News illuminated the logjam possible with the Michigan High School Athletic Association's football tournament, which has a 256-school ceiling. Markowski has counted 184 schools who've already earned the needed six wins to play a 10th game. 80 schools need one more win to join the previous 184. Four games feature a match-up of 5-3 teams, so 186 schools will have earned a tournament invite outside of the other schools not playing a pseudo playoff game.

I don't think Andy Frushour's declaration that there will be a day when there will be more teams with six wins than available playoff spots (256) is here yet, but stranger things have happened and I do think that day is coming, when a 6-3 team doesn't earn a playoff spot. Mathematically speaking, it's possible but not probable this season.

Before I go further, I can't think of a team or school to keep in your prayers or well wishes more than Detroit Henry Ford High. You can't tell me the Trojans were thinking about football in their 36-0 loss last week to Detroit Southeastern. If you ever need to call upon courage for yourself, think of the kid who pulls himself out of bed to play football a day after a four-person shooting in front of his school. There's a great history, pride and tradition at Henry Ford and the Trojans have done football better than most in the entire state. Here's to hoping the Trojan family can find some peace within the events that have enveloped the school.

In metro Detroit, it's an old-fashioned rivalry game week. Here's five of the more historic games that will go down Friday night.

Vikings - Eagles: Hazel Park (4-4) owns wins over teams with a combined six wins so for all purposes, this is probably the playoff game to end the season for the Vikings if they can upset their longtime counterparts from neighboring Ferndale (7-1). The two schools have played 78 times with Ferndale holding a 39-33-6 advantage, and in games since 1950, the Eagles hold a slight 29-28 count advantage. Perhaps no two schools in Oakland County share more common history than Hazel Park and Ferndale.

Chieftains - Bulldogs: It's been a great season for the 'Dawgs as Romeo (6-2) is playing their first season in the rugged MAC Red, while Utica hasn't seen the left side of the win-loss ledger this season. Nothing would make the season more memorable for the Chieftains than upsetting Romeo in the Brown Jug Game this Friday. The two Macomb county rivals meet for the 58th time this Friday, with Romeo holding 30 wins to Utica's 22. Four games have ended in a tie and one game's result is unconfirmed.

Dragons - Wolves: Clarkston (6-2) and Lake Orion (7-1) are once again marching towards each other for a Week Nine throwdown that has become a game circled in red by players, coaches and fans alike for the last several years. The two schools, who didn't play for two decades from 1957 to 1976, have a 38-game spread of 20-18 between each other, with Clarkston holding the slim edge. Both the green 'n white (LO) and maize 'n blue (CHS) are playoff-bound. Rumor has it that for the first time, there might be a physical trophy awarded to the winner of the annual tilt. The Battle For The Paddle, maybe?

Bulldogs - Lions: One of the few rivalries that cross county lines in metro Detroit. Oakland County's South Lyon and Livingston County's Brighton High have played nearly every fall since before World War II. This year the game features a South Lyon team that has split eight games while Brighton has struggled to a 2-6 record. Nevertheless, neither team will lack motivation for each other come Friday.

Abes - Panthers: Polar opposites in 2008 meet for the 59th time since 1950, as Warren Lincoln (7-1) battle their longtime adversary from Center Line (1-7). The Abes are going to the playoffs but Macomb County's other Brown Jug Game has been split down the middle since '50, 29 wins apiece. Center Line used to be known as Busch High a long time ago, and the game's trophy still carries that moniker. The game is a east side classic and the potential for an upset is always looming in October's dusk and chill.

Here's the best of the rest, with a few notes to boot.

Troy - Troy Athens: 41st game in the series, Troy (5-3) holds a 23-17 lead over Athens (2-6) and needs a win to qualify for the tournament, which the Colts won in '94... Southfield - Southfield Lathrup: The Blue Jays would be undefeated save for a gritty two-point setback with Rochester Adams while Lathrup upset Clarkston 46-45... Milford - Lakeland: Lakeland (6-2) just missed the KLAA title last week versus Howell and Milford (5-3) needs a win to qualify... Livonia Churchill - Livonia Stevenson: Two playoff contenders a year before, the Chargers (3-5) would like to take the shine off Stevenson's (6-2) fifth-consecutive playoff berth... Farmington - North Farmington: A role reversal for sure as the Farmington (5-3) needs a win versus the neighboring Raiders (2-6) to qualify for the MHSAA tournament for the fifth time in school history. A Falcon would be their sixth-straight win... Birmingham Seaholm - Birmingham Groves: Not the season either school envisioned, the Falcons (3-5) and Maples, aka the old Birmingham High (1-7), have split the last eight contests since 2000... Redford Union - Redford Thurston: Union (3-5) and Thurston (6-2) going in opposite directions... Taylor Kennedy - Taylor Truman: Neither Truman (2-6) or Kennedy (1-7) had a year to remember... Bloomfield Hills Lahser - Bloomfield Hills Andover: The Lahser Knights (7-1) are playoff bound while Andover (1-7) hopes for a chance to ruin a possible home game for their rival... Rochester - Rochester Adams: It doesn't seem so long ago that the two teams played their annual game each sporting 8-0 records (1993), but the Highlanders (7-1) have kept the Adams tradition rolling while the Falcons (1-7) haven't had the success they hoped for in '08... Pontiac Central - Pontiac Northern: The old Pontiac High Chiefs are winless while Northern is 3-5. The games does hold a special significance -- it means there's just 97 days until Pontiac's two basketball super-rivals meet on the hardwood pines on January 29th at Northern High! The rematch is March 3rd at Central.

It feels weird there's no longer an Oak Stump Game to end the year. For the past few years it feels a little empty on this weekend. Where have you gone, Prentice 'Pin' Ryan and Iverson Littleton Loftin? To quote our former big brother on North Washington Avenue, we'll always 'Remember November'.

Finally, good luck to all the schools this weekend no matter if your game is big or small, especially the players, coaches, cheerleaders and marching bands. Thanks for another memorable season!

~T.C. Cameron is the soon-to-be author of Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries, a follow-up to Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, released this past August.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Green Light For Basketball Book, Fordson, Ford Field and Football!

It's official -- I've been tendered a contract from Arcadia Publishing to write a follow-up to the football book from this fall. The title, not suprisingly, will be called Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries.

There are a couple significant changes since Martin Luther King Day of this year, when offer and acceptance of the football book contract came and went in the blink of an eye. First, I'm now represented by an agent, Terry Whalin of The Whalin Literary Agency. Terry handles a couple of different, unrelated projects for me, served as an excellent contributor for the blogging panel I moderated in NYC this past April ( check out Terry's blog at The Writing Life) and therefore is a natural fit to represent me for this title, too.

The other change is two-fold. I was a never-published author nine months ago. Since then I've been published, the football book has been successful (a couple hiccups aside), my blog is syndicated and I'm better prepared for what to expect, having done it once before on a truncated time table. I wrote the football book in 45 days. Yes, that's 45 days to write 18,000-20,000 words, come up with 200 original images and lay it out, too. This time I'll have 135 days to finish the title and won't have to worry about a divorce attorney knocking on my front door.

I'm also thrilled to be working with Arcadia again. America is chock full of interesting history and metro Detroit is home to so much of the rich fabric that blankets our country's past. Thankfully Arcadia is a publisher dedicated to telling that story.

Fordson-Southgate Anderson: Mick McCabe wrote a nice piece in this morning's Freep about the Fordson-Anderson game last night that gave the Tractors the Mega Red Championship with a 36-21 win. Plenty of the Tractor tradition and a nice quote of Charlie Jestice, too.

Upcoming Events: I'll be at the Barnes & Noble in Bloomfield Hills on Telegraph Road at 6pm on Thursday, October 23rd. On Saturday, December 13th, I'll be at the Border's Express inside Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi from 2-4pm. Come check it out!

Talking Turkey & Helping The Kids: My football book, Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, will be on sale at Ford Field during the MHSAA's championship rounds of the 2008 football tournament. Three dollars (that's $3 to you and me) of every book sold will benefit Officials For Kids, the charitable arm of the MHSAA's corp of registered officials.

You can find the book at the MHSAA's vendor, Lighthouse Sportswear, who travel down from Grand Ledge. Thanks to John Johnson, Communications Director of the MHSAA and Tim Pendell, Senior Director of Community Affiars for the Detroit Lions.

Show your holiday spirit (the book makes a great gift, Mom!) and do something for those who need you the most. I harken to the phrase of rally used to promote the defunct Goodfellows Game played between the Catholic League and Detroit Public School League champions on Thanksgiving Day at Tiger Stadium.

No Child Forgotten. Watch some great football, buy a book and help the cause.

Not A Hater: I earned some healthy feedback from Thursday's post and most of it came from those who think I dislike Royal Oak HS. Far from it. I simply offered the opinion that time, money and a lot of sweat-equity was poured into an unknown brand for reasons I'm not certain best served the Royal Oak school district. Kimball was a known brand. You never had to ask a Kimball team to hit, never had to ask them to work and therefore had a level of expectation that many schools strive for.

If you think that's far-fetched, consider sending your daughter to Birmingham Marian. If she wants to play basketball, you're dealing with a known brand. The same goes for Brother Rice football and Al Fracassa, Troy Athens soccer and Tim Storch and Clarkston basketball and Dan Fife.

Today, when the rubber meets the road, there's just two years of history to draw on instead of 50 years of tradition that was well-publicized on the Kimball walls, vanquished to memory in 2006 at the hands of sandblasters and bulldozers.

Unfortunately for the Royal Oak faithful, the Ravens dropped another not-so-close contest last night to Birmingham Groves, 49-12. The game was the 146th time that a Royal Oak public school (RO Acrons, Kimball, Dondero, RO Ravens) faced a Birmingham public school (Birmingham Maples, Seaholm, Groves). It was just an opinion offered about Royal Oak's recent football struggles. From all accounts the Ravens have played hard, but unfortunately, simply playing hard doesn't win football games.

~ T. C. Cameron is a three-sport referee and writer who is scheduled to produce Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries for publication in 2009 from Arcadia Publishing.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ravens Finding Kimball Legacy Tough To Fly Past

Eight months ago, I wrote within this blog's space about change. I watched change take place as a college student when Eastern Michigan University unceremoniously ditched their Huron identity in 1990-1991. Change is messy and sometimes, not for the best.

So when Royal Oak dismantled it's prep sports legacy brick-by-brick starting in 2005 by combining Kimball and Dondero High, I wondered what the aftermath might leave in the immediate years to come. It was a costly, controversial decision that embittered both school cultures. The Detroit News described the two schools as historic rivals when the paper wrote a recap of the first merged year as Royal Oak High.

I think I may have an answer.

Royal Oak High School is 0-7 in the current football season. The Ravens have been close in one game, but the others? Monumental blowouts, and with two games remaining, Royal Oak's gridders have just two more chances to avoid the first winless season in the history of the city's high school at 1500 Lexington. Royal Oak has new uniforms, new colors, new coaches and new field turf but there's something missing. There's no tradition, because the past two seasons were teams made up mostly of the remaining Kimball players coached by the former Kimball coach, Terry Powers. Powers told me during the first year of the combined school (2006), 21 of the 22 starters were Kimball players. That team went 8-3 and won the district playoff opener.

Many newspapers still referred to the Ravens in those first couple years as Kimball. There was a lot of Kimball tradition and just because it was pulled off the walls, it doesn't die in the memories and minds of prep sports fans. Just like Renaissance was still Catholic Central for many years, and the De LaSalle Pilots were still from their old campus off Connor.

I know football is just a game among many different sports at the area high schools, but it's important to have a good football team in Royal Oak, just like it's part of the culture at Pershing, Fordson, King, John Glenn, Harrison and Allen Park. I watched Kimball suffer it's first losing season after 27-straight seasons without a losing ledger starting in 1984 as a high school freshman and it set an ugly tenor for our four years. Three years later, the district plucked Powers from Detroit Catholic Central to mold the Kimball program as the Shamrocks were built. There was a palpable spirit at Kimball and having a good football team was an important part of the building's culture for the 49 years it was open.

The other day I was in Royal Oak to get my haircut at, ironically enough, the Kimball Barbershop. One my way I drove past Royal Oak's football field where the signature blue n' gold K has been missing for three years. As I passed the baseball field, there was a gold, block-letter "K" hand-painted onto the dugout facing Normandy. On the other side of the building, the school's signature rock was slathered in gold with blue letters reading "KHS ROCKS".

I've talked to several familiar with the culture in the former Kimball building. There's a bit of a rebellion going on. Last winter the old Kimball gear started to show up. First it was a shirt or two, then a varsity jacket, and then a few more noticeable references. It's lead to dissension. This is possibly the bitter aftermath of tearing the district schools' good names to their foundations and combining two distinct cultures.

Good memories die hard. Change doesn't guarantee continued success.

Polar Bears Are Back! Less than a week after declaring the season over at Highland Park, head coach Cedric Dortch said yesterday in Detroit Free Press that the season will go forward for the final two games. This week the Polar Bears will face the rising Phoenix of Ypsilanti High, followed with a season-ending battle with top-ranked Dearborn Fordson.

The Parkers will have to win both games to qualify for the playoffs, as does Ypsilanti, so for all intents, this is the season for Highland Park. Even if they win Friday versus Ypsilanti, the monumental task of toppling the Tractors in Week Nine awaits. Fordson is preparing this week for the game of the year in metro Detroit, as Southgate Anderson and Fordson will meet tomorrow night for the final MEGA Red championship.

Speaking universally, this is a good move by Coach Dortch. That would have been an inglorious way to end a season and with his school and many others looking for a new place to park their athletic fortunes when the MEGA disbands this upcoming spring, people need to know Highland Park won't throw in the towel.

Two years ago Highland Park signed a contract to go play the Howell Highlanders in Howell. It was something I took notice of immediately when the prep football schedules were released. It took a lot of guts to agree to put his kids on a bus and go to a place that hasn't always been associated with, shall we say, tolerance. Howell is working hard to break that image and Highland Park is working hard to rebuild the honor and pride that used to be signature staples of the school's athletic department. Playing the rest of the season is another step in that direction.

Harrison A Victim Of An SI-Like Jinx? Two weeks ago Farmington Hills Harrison lost a 20-19 heartbreaker to Farmington High, the first time in 31 years the Falcons escaped the clutches of the Hawks. The last time that happened? 1977, when Farmington defeated the defending state finalists by an identical 20-19 count.

What's on the front cover of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries? A picture from that 1977 Harrison-Farmington game, with the same score and result of the game played this year.

What are the odds of that?

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

A Weekend Of Non-Stop Football

I read this morning that Avondale High School football coach Steven Deutsch was quoted in today's Detroit Free Press as saying no one plays defense in high school football anymore. The Yellow Jackets defeated tough-luck Hazel Park this past Friday with a 34-yard touchdown on the game's final play by a 53-52 count. That 100+ point tally was one of a handful of near triple-digit games this past weekend in metro Detroit.

I'm not certain that's true as much as high school football has evolved with the collegiate game in leaps and bounds on the offensive side of the ball. Power-I formations? Yeah, right. Off-tackle? Maybe once in a while. More and more, though, it's traps, sweeps, veer and several variations that feature and specialize in the single-wing offense. Nowadays, when you see four-to-five receiver sets, I half prepare for a run or short screen to a halfback as an official working the wing or in the back judge's position.

The bottom line is prep defenses can no longer gear to stop the run or pass exclusively, and with the proliferation of passing camps, quarterback schools, weight, speed and skill training, how can a defense keep up with the expansion of the typical offensive playbook, multiplied by the power of three, in high school football today?

Fight The Good Fight? An ugly donnybrook nearly came to fruition this past Saturday before the kickoff of a small college football game when the home team and visiting team were both waiting to take the field, poised from opposite endzones. By rule, when both teams refuse to go onto the field before their opponent, the home team is required to go first. So the hosts thundered onto the turf, went 100 yards into the opposite endzone and engaged in a testosterone-powered shout-down with their opponents that was quickly addressed by all seven officials.

No fists were thrown and one 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul was assessed to start the game, plus a delay-of-game before the game's first kickoff legally took place. Thankfully both teams marched to early touchdowns. That was important because once the game was tied 7-7, both teams settled down into a rhythm. However, that start was the precursor to 20 more penalties before the clock read 0:00.

That's the reality of officiating a hotly-contested game with first place on the line.

Forfeit Ends Polar Bear Season: Highland Park High was a no-show on Friday night at Dearborn Edsel Ford last week. This meant no walk-up ticket sales, concession money, program or spirit gear sales, either. Hopefully it wasn't homecoming for the Thunderbirds, which would be the end of a lot of memories for the Edsel Ford student body as well.

It could be called admirable that Highland Park head coach Cedric Dortch had the stones to make a tough decision to deliver a message, but in these economic times, that money is vital for some of these schools and the memories of a high school football season's game cannot be replaced, either. The coach's decision was reported within this morning's edition of The Detroit News.
I never like forfeits in high school football. One, finding a replacement game in nearly impossible for the offended school. Two, the money that one home football game generates cannot be found elsewhere.

Ironically, all three forfeited games remaing on the Highland Park schedule to end the season will either grant or greatly improve playoff chances for the three offended schools.
Edsel Ford qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history with the awarded victory on Friday, their sixth of the season. The Thunderbirds entered the game 5-1. Ypsilanti, Highland Park's Week Eight opponent, now sit at 5-3 with the forfeit win, and will have a chance to qualify for the playoffs if the purple 'n gold can defeat Dexter's Dreadnaughts (1-6 so far) in Week Nine.

Dearborn Fordson, ranked somewhere in the top five of nearly every state divisional classification poll after the Tractors' 24-14 win over rival Dearborn High, will end the season undefeated if they can beat the undefeated Southgate Anderson Titans this Friday in a huge match-up to decide the Mega Red championship. Because Highland Park was the Tractor opponent for Week Nine, Fordson is nearly guaranteed at least one home game in the playoffs no matter the result this Friday.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

HS Football Remains Strong Among Major Media Stalwarts

The defense of Lord Stanley's Chalice begins tonight on the banks of the Detroit River for America's signature hockey franchise, the Detroit Red Wings. With little more than 100 days behind them after an exalting run to the Cup championship, the Wings will host their longtime rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, to Joe Louis Arena.

What does this have to do with high school football? Give me another paragraph or two.

The season's energy began in earnest two days ago when the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association (DSBA) hosted a media luncheon Tuesday in the Hockeytown Cafe featuring Red Wing brass Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman and Jim Nill. During the organizational housekeeping duties and preliminary introductions, DSBA President Rick Kincaide made mention of my book, Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and went on to tell the thrilling details of Farmington's 20-19 triumph over Farmington Hills Harrison last week.

In front of a major media market, in a hockey-crazed city, before introducing household names like Holland and Yzerman, Kincaide was talking high school football, and with good reason. He broadcast the Harrison-Farmington game featured six lead changes, a healthy amount of PAT drama from both coaches and a thrilling conclusion that saw Farmington recover the football for a climatic kneel-down to capture their first win over Harrison in 31 years. Quite a story, in any market, for any sport.

Kincaide, who has a neat book of his own called The Gods of Olympia Stadium: Legends of the Detroit Red Wings, showed me through his plug for my book and his re-telling of last Friday's Falcon win that Detroiters have secure spot in their heart for prep sports.
After the program, Bill Evo of Evo Enterprises stopped me to tell me of his relative, Chuck Skinner. Readers of this blog will quickly recall I ran a story a few weeks back of a fun phone discussion I had with Skinner. The story was rich with memories of Skinner's days with the Hazel Park Vikings and later Birmingham's Seaholm Maples.

Before I finished talking with Evo, the voice of the Red Wings, Ken Kal, stopped me and retold a great story of his broadcasting a game between Adrian's Maples and the River Rats from Ann Arbor Huron that was played at Hollway Field on the Ann Arbor Pioneer campus. "I remember the excitement and fun of the game kind of overtaking me," Kal said with a chuckle. "I was calling a kickoff, and the runner took the ball on the 10. I said 'He's at the 20, now the 30, the 40..45...50! 55, 60, 65...He's down to the 30 and downed at the 25-yard line!"

A graduate of Dearborn St. Alphonsus, Kal grew up a native Detroiter with a keen awareness of the major HS rivalries in the metro area. Kal's brother is longtime Brother Rice baseball coach Ron Kalczynski, who still serves as an assistant to current Rice coach Bob Riker. Before Kal was the radio voice of the Wings, he was the voice of the Michigan Wolverines and a favorite of the sports writers of The Ann Arbor News in the downtown Ann Arbor eateries and brew houses after we had put the paper to bed on a Saturday night. Today's he's best remembered for calling four Red Wing championships in the past 11 years.

Kal has a media resume most of us would kill for, and no one would blame him for burying a memory of a call that is not the truest representation of his best work in radio. Yet what did Kal remember Tuesday, on the eve of another thrilling season of Red Wing hockey?

45, 50! 55-60! 65.....

Long live high school football!

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm In Dearborn on October 8 -- Come See Me!

I'll be presenting an interactive Image of Sports presentation tomorrow night at the Dearborn Public Library Main Branch (Michigan Avenue), starting at 7pm. After the program, I'll be signing copies of my book, Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries. The program's beneficiary is the library itself.

Not doing anything on a ho-hum Wednesday evening? Come join me! I'll have pictures and images of all four Dearborn high schools. Has there been a better season of recent memory in Dearborn? I think not. With Fordson at 6-0 , Edsel Ford and Dearborn and Divine Child at 4-2, all four schools have positioned themselves to make the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs. These are never-seen-before pictures and images representing the rich history of the Pioneers, Falcons, Tractors and Thunderbirds!

Come check out the new table skirt with all the varsity letters on it! Have one to donate? Come on up! The Dearborn Public Library is on Michigan Avenue due east from the Southfield Freeway across from Ford Motor Company and nestled in with the Dearborn Police Department and the city's Amtrak station.

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, available for purcahse and signing this Wednesday, October 8th at the Dearborn Public Library. Show starts at 7pm!

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Monday, October 6, 2008

McCollum's Perspective, Save The Date & Crazy Like A Fox

I had the opportunity to serve Fox Sports yesterday as the Time-Out Coordinator (TOC) for the Chicago Bears' 34-7 victory over the Lions yesterday at Detroit's Ford Field. Even the staunchest Lion backers will admit it was an ugly defeat for the home team, and nothing was uglier than the booing that took place as the Lions left the field for halftime trailing 17-0.

Andy McCollum was one of those Lions that endured the wrath of the fans as he and his teammates walked off the field and began the long walk up the tunnel at Ford Field. McCollum's a center with the Lions and he easily could have walked up to his team's dressing room without making eye contact with anyone -- no one would've blamed him -- but he didn't.

For about 300 elementary kids lining the tunnel in full pads and uniform, this was their moment. The Lions hosted four youth football teams and their cheerleaders who were waiting to play 5-10 minutes of football on the same field that hosted Super Bowl XL. While a tempest of ugly fandemonium was taking place from the stands, McCollum went out of his way to make the moment special for the kids.

Wearing his No. 67 jersey, McCollum high-fived every kid that stuck his hand out, whether it was a cheerleader or player or coach. He cheered them on with "Have fun out there!" and other words of encouragement. The kids responded with a "Let's Go Lions!" chant, unaware of the ugly response 35,000 Lion fans had just serenaded the home team with.

McCollum didn't have to do any of his good-natured gesture with these kids. He's a professional athlete with professional responsibilities. Maybe he simply needed to feed his own soul after the verbal abuse the Lion fans were dishing out as the team walked to the tunnel. Maybe McCollum simply is a kid at heart when it comes to football. Possibly McCollum remembered his own experiences playing youth football and wanted to pay it forward, so to speak.

Whatever it was, it was thrilling to see. It made professional football human for these kids instead of monstrous men hulking upwards inside a massive, larger-than-life stadium. It was one of the classiest gestures I've ever witnessed a professional athlete offer and it was genuine, unplanned and not designed by or for a staff of public relations professionals.
In the worst moment of a bad season so far, Andy McCollum showed his heart yesterday and made some 300 kids Lion fans for life.

Save The Date: I'll be hosting an interactive viewing of the Images of Football from the four high schools in the City of Dearborn on Wednesday, October 8th at the Dearborn Public Library on Michigan Avenue. The program starts at 7pm and will feature pictures and images from Dearborn's Pioneers, Edsel Ford's Thunderbirds, Fordson's Tractors and Divine Child's Falcons.
After the program I'll have a book signing and sale in the atrium of the library, with the benefactor being the Dearborn Public Library. Come Join me!

Bear Down: The orange gloves of the TOC came up missing yesterday in pre-game production, leaving me with no visable eye candy for the game's referee to see me with from 60-80 yards away. Thankfully, the Bears saved the day. The team's equipment manager handed us a long-sleeve orange shirt and a set of orange-faced gloves. The Lions donated a white NFL t-shirt and the problem was solved. Thanks, guys!

You're On: I was the man yesterday for three brief moments yesterday. With the weight of the world on my shoulders, and all of the western world, not to mention mankind, watching with unfettered attention, I cue the game's Referee for three game-altering replays... OK, it wasn't that big of a deal. We had three replays and I had the responsibility to cue the game's Referee for live television's presentation of the announcement. Thankfully, my man Rich York helped make it flow smoothly yesterday and our broadcast was like Krylon: No runs, no drips, no errors.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Death Threats Wrong But Debbie Schlussel's Not Innocent For Her Fordson Comment

Yesterday a 40-year-old Dearborn, Michigan man who e-mailed two separate death threats within one minute of each other against ultra-conservative columnist and over-exposed blogger Debbie Schlussel was sentenced to eight months in prison.

That's good, right? Right! Here's hoping that the rest of the community, in Dearborn and anywhere else in the 50 great states and the District of Columbia knows that freedom of speech is protected in this great country, even when free speech is exercised by those who abuse it.

I'll admit Schlussel speaks the truth about many issues when it comes to the extremists and radicals from the East that have declared war by any means necessary in the West and anyone who assimilates life in the West. She's also as rambunctious and over-the-top as any warlord has ever been portrayed, and when she portrayed Dearborn's Fordson High School as 'Hezbollah High', she specifically drew my ire. I thought she was being grossly unfair and I e-mailed the Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate. I didn't get so much as a 'No Thanks'.

Schlussel points to the school's principal, a person she paints as radicalist-friendly. Schlussel goes on to identify all of Fordson with this label because she's 'discovered' that some of the Arab community at Dearborn Fordson have ties to terrorist organizations, although not all methods of discovery have been disclosed. When the school's wrestling coach was fired last year for cause due to a religious disagreement, Schlussel hung the hateful moniker around the school's neck.

Now it's my turn.

Is Fordson's community squeaky clean, upstanding and beyond reproach? I don't know. Is Fordson a pit of lawless, angry war lords hiding behind religion to further a directive of destruction against America? I don't know that, either.

What I do know is that Fordson is a place where school spirit soars. It's a place that seems to field a lot of good teams, year after year, in many different sports. The Tractors have been good for over 80 years, spanning the school's early all-white, European-based population to the days from 1950-1980 when it was a mix of Poles, Italians, English and Arab to today's near-exclusive population of Arab and Muslim students. In researching Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, I discovered that Fordson has as faithful and passionate a following as any school. This group is not bound by age, religion, gender or economic status. They're bound by their common heritage as Fordson Tractors.

I do know that a lot of good teachers, coaches and administrators care a great deal about Fordson High. They care about their students, about their school's reputation and their ability to mold a lot of different kids into graduates potential of success beyond the football field, algebra or the school yearbook, the Fleur De Lis.

Doesn't sound like a place that perpetrates hate if you ask me.

So what am I, or anyone for that matter, to think of terrorist ties? Am I to believe that because Fordson has been labeled as 'Hezbollah High' that this type of link is only to be assumed at Fordson? Does anyone really believe that just one school, one restaurant or one office in the metropolitan area can be linked to terrorism? I suppose because 9/11 terrorists flew out of Boston's Logan Airport that terrorism can be sufficiently linked to the entire Boston airport? Of course not.

And what if a teacher is found to be embezzling funds, like what happened in the mid-1990s where I went to school? Does that mean we should have renamed the school as Enron High? What of sexual assault? Does that mean we rename a school as Pedophile Preparatory? I'm not saying all the students and faculty at Fordson, or any other high school for that matter, is of upstanding conviction. What I am saying is labeling an entire high school like Fordson as 'Hezbollah High' is completely irresponsible for a journalist of any ilk.

And despite Schlussel's impressive credentials, education and credits, when a blogger takes a hateful position like Schlussel has, bloggers everywhere are discredited as a whole rather than in part. I've written some things that have been unpopular, but I've never hung that label on any entity.

Why? I'm simply not that irresponsible.

Schlussel is brilliant, intelligent writer and reporter who, sadly, sprinkles a healthy amount of hate and labels it as passion into her work as it relates to Fordson High School, and a Dearborn native, albeit wrong to threaten her life to be certain, let Schlussel know that calling Fordson 'Hezbollah High' won't get her invited to the Tractors' homecoming.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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