20 YEARS OF STATE CHAMPS! 20 STATE CHAMPIONS SERIES: 2010 Farmington Hills Harrison
Farmington Hills — The 2010 Division 2 state-champion Farmington Hills Harrison Hawks were as high-powered as any state-title holder regardless of class-size in MHSAA history. We’re talking Top Gun-level aerial magic.
The group that brought home the final state crown for the hallowed Harrison pigskin program and legendary head coach John Herrington embodied explosiveness and electricity.
“They knew how to score points in a hurry, ” Herrington remembers. “We threw deep a lot that year, spread the ball around to a bunch of different guys who knew what to do with it once they had it in their hands.”
The undefeated Hawks (14-0) averaged 38 points per game in 2010. They featured Mr. Football in senior quarterback Tommy Vento (Michigan State) and three future NFL players in junior tight end Devin Funchess (Michigan), junior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State) and junior defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia (Michigan).
Herrington’s 2010 team was his state-record 13th state championship. Harrison closed in 2019 and Herrington left the head-coaching ranks as the MHSAA’s winningest coach ever.
Herrington built the Hawks program from scratch, hired as the school’s first and only coach in 1970 and going on to helm a program which became the MHSAA gold-standard and a genuine national brand, producing dozens of college stars and drawing scouts from every major NCAA football blueblood for a half-century.
“The 2010 season was a fun ride and that last state championship club was fun to coach,” Herrington said. “We had the horses, thoroughbreds at multiple spots, guys that had ‘it’ factor.”
Harrison beat Lowell 38-28 in the state finals that November at Ford Field. Behind 14-10 at the half and 21-10 early in the third quarter, the Hawks rallied in the second half for the victory, taking advantage of four consecutive Lowell turnovers.
Vento accounted for three straight touchdowns in a six-minute span between the end of the third quarter and first 90 seconds of the game’s closing frame. Vento’s 1-yard sneak for a score gave Harrison the lead for good at 24-21 with just six ticks to go in the third. His 56-yard touchdown strike to his younger brother Jake opened the fourth quarter and the Hawks were off to the races and their record-breaking coronation.
Burbridge caught a pair of touchdowns in the contest (26, 10 yards). Vento went 20-of-32 passing on the day for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns to cap a storybook senior campaign, He threw for 3,150 yards and 33 touchdowns in his first year starting under center at the varsity level.
“Tommy loved the game, loved the quarterback position and just kept plugging away until he got the job,” Herrington said. “I don’t know if you can find any better senior seasons throwing the football as a new starter. He was on the money and on the mark from the first practice of the season. Tommy was a natural leader, too, so the team took on his mindset and played chippy all year long. They had the big plays, but they also made the tough plays, got the hard yardage.”
Ojemudia posted 6 tackles in the state championship game and played for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. Burbridge played for the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.
Funchess has been playing in the NFL for eight seasons and is currently with the Detroit Lions. When he played with the Carolina Panthers, he appeared in the 2016 Super Bowl and hauled in 2 catches for 40 yards in a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
“Those were some all-time great football players and all-time great Harrison Hawks,” said Herrington of Funchess, Burbridge and Ojemudia. “Aaron was the prototype highlight-reel receiver. Mario’s motor was terrific and he never took a single snap off. And then Devin, he’s the guy who’s been at it the longest and with the most success as a pro. What a talent. All three were. You add Tommy and Jake Vento into that mix and you have that special recipe that made them champions and so memorable.”