April 25, 2011

No fun for foes

Tim Brandon knew he'd have his hands full when his Grosse Pointe South squad played Farmington Hills Harrison in last year's state semifinals. He was right - Harrison rolled in that game, 51-0, on its way to a 14-0 season and a state championship. Now Brandon gets to see at least two players from that game heading to Michigan.

Brandon admitted his team paid particular attention to the newest Wolverine - Devin Funchess, out of Harrison - in prepping for that semifinal showdown.

"I personally thought he was one of their most dangerous players, because of his versatility," Brandon noted. "Here is a kid that lines up at tight end, he lines up in the slot, he lines up at wide receiver…

"He does a lot of motion. He does a lot of things offensively, but also plays defense - kind of a defensive end/outside linebacker. He's very versatile, does a lot of things and is very athletic. He's got great size. He's a nice young man to have on your football team."

Funchess is good enough that Brandon takes pride in the fact that the senior didn't put up big numbers against his team. The Harrison senior caught two passes for 28 yards, while others did the damage on offense.

Funchess made his presence known more on the defensive side in the semifinal blowout.

"Maybe it's because we prepped against him so much, but we actually had decent success against him," Brandon offered. [Wideout Aaron] Burbridge and the other guys went crazy on us. Just against us, [Funchess] had more success on the defensive side of the ball.

"We had a tough time getting the edge, either running or passing to the flats, because of his length and athletic ability. He really did shut us down defensively.

"Offensively, he put his hand on the ground, he lined up at wide receiver, he lined up at slot and went in motion. He did a lot of different things to draw your attention. Maybe some of it was decoy-type stuff, but he's a nice weapon, obviously."

Grosse Pointe South had never made to the state semifinals before, so Brandon obviously took plenty of pride in his own team. He's glad the triggerman for his squad's success will be wearing a Michigan uniform this year, in anticipation of Funchess' arrival a year from now.

Ben Fry, the quarterback from that Grosse Pointe South squad, will be walking onto Michigan's roster in the fall.

"He's a great young man," Brandon said. "He had wonderful academic success at Grosse Pointe South, which is a great academic institution.

"On the football field, he threw for over 1,200 yards and ran for 750. As a senior, he led us to the semifinals for the first time in school history. He's a great young man, a great football player, and a Michigan guy. I knew he wanted to go to Michigan, football or not, from the jump."

Brandon also knows Fry won't lack practice targets in the Michigan lineup - particularly one he's seen firsthand.

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