1st & Goal: 2021 Week 3 in Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 13, 2021

The anticipated came through during Week 3 of this football regular season, and the unpredicted provided an entertaining mix of storylines too.

As expected, the statewide headliners came from Detroit with Martin Luther King winning a much-heralded rivalry matchup – but also Livonia Churchill claiming the upset of this young season.

Elsewhere, Grand Blanc won close again over another highly-regarded opponent. Hudson continued to build on arguably the best small-school start in the state. A number of 8-player teams tried to wear out scoreboards – the 8-player schedule alone saw four games break 100 combined points and a fifth end up at 98, with Indian River Inland Lakes and Central Lake tying the 8-player scoring record by combining to put up 152.

Here’s a glance at those and other results that especially caught our attention.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Grand Blanc 27, Midland Dow 23 Another week, another noteworthy win for the Bobcats (3-0), who have now handed first losses of this season to all three of their opponents. Hunter Ames connected twice with Tae Boyd on scores, the second during the third quarter ending up the game-winner, and the defense stopped Dow’s final rally on the Grand Blanc 15-yard line. Click for more from WJRT.

Watch list Port Huron Northern 22, Fraser 15 The Huskies quickly are the only undefeated team left in the Macomb Area Conference Blue after handing Fraser (2-1) its first defeat, and Northern also is 3-0 for the first time since 1995.

Remember this one Fenton 39, Flushing 20 The win was only the first for Fenton (1-2) after opening with tough nonleague opponents Dow and East Lansing, and it also put the Tigers 1-0 in the Flint Metro League Stripes as those first two losses have nothing to do with Fenton’s opportunity to three-peat as league champion.

More shoutouts Millington 38, Hemlock 7 The Cardinals (3-0) have won by an average of just about 31 points per game, this one avenging last year’s 12-6 loss to the Huskies that decided the Tri-Valley Conference 10-1 title. Bad Axe 26, Unionville-Sebewaing 8 The Hatchets are 3-0 for the first time since 2001 and already halfway to posting their best record since that season.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Detroit Martin Luther King 41, Detroit Cass Tech 34 As anticipated, this one absolutely was worth watching. (Watch the replay here.) Crusaders quarterback Dante Moore threw for 365 yards and five touchdowns including go-ahead scores with 33 seconds to play in the first half and 29 seconds into the fourth quarter as King (2-1) went on to avenge last season’s pair of losses to the Technicians (1-2). Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Watch list Livonia Churchill 28, Belleville 21 If not for King/Cass Tech, this would’ve been the headliner not only from the Detroit area but statewide. Belleville (2-1) hadn’t lost a regular-season game since Week 3 of 2016, and Churchill (3-0) had lost all three recent meetings by at least three touchdowns.  

Remember this one Orchard Lake St. Mary's 28, Harper Woods 14 The four teams in the Detroit Catholic League Central are a combined 10-1 with league play set to begin, and handing Harper Woods (2-1) its first defeat ranks right up there with the most impressive of those 10 wins so far.

More shoutouts Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 23, Detroit Loyola 8 The Fighting Irish (3-0) are quietly 19-4 over the last three seasons and made statements on both sides of the ball scoring the first points Loyola (2-1) had given up and holding the Bull Dogs to only eight after they’d scored a combined 119 over their first two games. Armada 34, North Branch 28 The Tigers are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, after winning three games total last season and no more than four since 2012. They also sent reigning champ North Branch (1-2) to 0-2 in Blue Water Area Conference play.


HEADLINER DeWitt 49, East Lansing 14 As expected, DeWitt’s offense keyed by quarterback Ty Holtz and receivers Tommy McIntosh and Nick Flegler immediately bounced back from scoring 17 points in a Week 2 loss to Portland. The Capital Area Activities Conference Blue looks a lot stronger top to bottom this season than the past few, but the Panthers have some history on their side going forward as East Lansing is the only league team to defeat DeWitt since it joined the Blue in 2018. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Ovid-Elsie 23, Montrose 22 The Marauders’ seven-point opening loss to still-undefeated Portland looks better by the week, and add to that a win over the Rams (2-1) after losing to them by 42 and 22 points the last two seasons.

Remember this one Mason 34, Williamston 27 The CAAC Red race started off with a massive comeback as the Bulldogs trailed 27-13 at halftime but then held the Hornets scoreless over the final two quarters.

More shoutouts Brighton 7, Hartland 6 The Bulldogs (2-1) earned the slim advantage with a 75-yard pass off a fake punt and their second straight week giving up just one score. St. Louis 35, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 32 The Sharks (3-0) hadn’t won three games in a season since 2018 and at 41 points per game are on pace for their most productive offense since the 1960s.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City West 21, Cadillac 7 The Titans (3-0) guaranteed they will again have a loud say in who wins the Big North Conference holding off the Vikings (2-1) to set up this week’s possible league-title decider with reigning champ Traverse City Central. West ran its winning streak against 2020 Division 4 runner-up Cadillac to seven, led by a defense that has given up only one score each of the last two weeks. Click for more from MI Sports Now.

Watch list Mancelona 44, Elk Rapids 15 The Ironmen won three games total last season but are 3-0 for the first time since 2012 with a defense giving up just under 12 points per a game.

Remember this one Frankfort 32, Oscoda 16 The Panthers (2-1) handed Oscoda (2-1) its first regular-season defeat since Week 8 of 2019 – and they play each other again this week in a nonconference rematch.

More shoutouts Lake City 24, Manton 0 The Trojans (3-0) are quickly making their way back after finishing 2-4 a year ago, with this week’s Beal City matchup possibly the most telling so far this fall. Boyne City 44, Maple City Glen Lake 10 The Ramblers (3-0) have avenged their two 2020 regular-season losses in back-to-back weeks and have given up only 25 points total over their three wins this fall.

Southeast & Border 

HEADLINER Hudson 36, Clinton 28 A great start just keeps getting greater for the Tigers, who added a league-opening win over the reigning Division 6 runner-up to their first 3-0 start since 2017. Hudson took a 28-14 lead into halftime and held off the Redwolves’ second-half rally. Nick Kopin tore through four touchdown runs including a 91-yarder. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Napoleon 20, Manchester 18 The Pirates (3-0) are off to their best start since 2002 with now as many wins this fall as they earned the last two seasons combined.

Remember this one Temperance Bedford 37, Dexter 36 (OT) With these two back in the same league for the first time in more than a decade, this could end up deciding the Southeastern Conference Red championship or at the very least keep Bedford (3-0) in contention to win it.

More shoutouts Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 33, Carleton Airport 26 The Falcons are 3-0 for the first time since 2015 with Huron League powers Milan and Riverview up over the next two weeks, respectively. Saline 34, Ypsilanti Lincoln 14 Seven-time reigning SEC Red champ Saline (3-0) won its 40th-straight league game.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Battle Creek Harper Creek 50, Parma Western 22 The Beavers might be one of the best 1-2 teams out there and got into the win column after an opening loss to Battle Creek Lakeview and then a three-point defeat to Hastings. Those two and Parma Western remain a combined 7-2 so far. Harper Creek also had defeated Parma Western in a playoff opener last season. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Watch list Watervliet 19, Buchanan 13 After winning two games each of the last three seasons, Watervliet (3-0) has put together an attention-grabbing start with two of those victories over teams that finished last season with winning records.

Remember this one Kalamazoo United 48, Schoolcraft 22 The Hackett/Kalamazoo Christian co-op opened with a difficult slate of Whitehall, Stevensville Lakeshore and now Schoolcraft, and this first win might get the ball rolling with league play coming up.

More shoutouts Cassopolis 28, Comstock 0 The Rangers (2-1) bounced back from a Week 2 loss by shutting out a Comstock team that had scored a combined 82 points during a 2-0 start. Battle Creek Central 34, Lansing Everett 12 The Bearcats (2-1) also showed the ability to rebound nicely, following up a Week 2 defeat by dealing the Vikings (2-1) their first.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Calumet 28, Ishpeming Westwood 14 The Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper race just opened back up with previously-winless Calumet handing Westwood its first defeat. The Copper Kings (1-2) slowed a Patriots offense that had totaled 80 points over the 2-0 start. Click for more from ABC 10

Watch list  Bark River-Harris 40, Kalkaska 20 The Broncos have piled up three double-digit wins for their first 3-0 start since 2015.

Remember this one Houghton 21, Iron Mountain 14 These two have been facing each other as members of the West-PAC Copper together since 2018 – and Iron Mountain (1-2) had won the previous two games of the recent series with Houghton (2-1) by a combined 81-0.

More shoutouts Menominee 35, Gladstone 34 The Maroons (3-0) held off a late scare from Gladstone (1-2) to open Great Northern Conference play. Marquette 50, Escanaba 21 The reigning GNC champ improved to 2-1 and ran its winning streak over rival Escanaba (1-2) to four with its highest-scoring game since 2017.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Muskegon 28, Zeeland West 20  The Big Reds (2-1) bounced right back from a Week 2 loss to Cass Tech with an impressive opening win in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green. The teams were tied midway through the fourth quarter before Muskegon pulled away from the Dux (1-1). Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Watch list  Caledonia 24, Grandville 14 The Fighting Scots (3-0) joined the O-K Red in 2016 and have yet to make their mark in that league – but it could be on the way with this win avenging last year’s 42-7 loss to the Bulldogs (1-2).

Remember this one Grand Rapids Christian 13, East Grand Rapids 11 The Eagles (1-2) ran their winning streak over EGR (1-2) to four, and this O-K White opener could become much more important when the league schedule wraps up in six weeks.

More shoutouts Grand Rapids West Catholic 51, Allendale 14 The Falcons (3-0) have picked right back up from last October’s scoring surge averaging nearly 41 points per game over this start. Allendale (2-1) had given up a total of seven over its first two games. Comstock Park 34, Sparta 27 The Panthers (3-0) had won a combined four games over the last three seasons, but a late score helped pull them within a win of equaling that this week.


HEADLINER Deckerville 82, Genesee 48 Scoring a combined 130 points, this matchup exceeded expectations for high-powered offense. Ethan Bowerman set the MHSAA 8-player record with six touchdowns in a quarter and finished with seven total for the Eagles (2-0). Genesee (2-1) saw its scoring average fall to just 50 points per game in defeat. Click for more from the Sanilac County News.

Watch list Waldron 34, Camden-Frontier 22 The Spartans (2-1) had given up at least 44 points every time in losing their first four meetings with C-F (2-1) after the latter moved to 8-player in 2016.

Remember this one Indian River Inland Lakes 86, Central Lake 66 While it’s unfortunate either team lost a game like this, it will live on as it tied the 8-player record for most points in a game where both teams scored at least 40. Inland Lakes remained undefeated at 3-0 while Central Lake fell to 1-2.

More shoutouts Crystal Falls Forest Park 62, Ontonagon 60 (2OT) Hardly a consolation prize on a night of historic 8-player scoring, this game now ranks third all-time among highest-scoring 8-player overtime games. The Trojans improved to 3-0 while Ontonagon (2-1) suffered its first loss. Au Gres-Sims 62, Mio 54 These two combined for only 116 points as the Wolverines (3-0) stayed at the top of the North Star League and handed Mio (2-1) its first defeat.

PHOTO: Detroit King’s Rashawn Mersier (18) is taken to the ground after a gain during Friday’s win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo by Quintin Love Jr.)

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

March 17, 2023

Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.

Northern Lower PeninsulaLast year, they nearly played in the Division 3 title game – falling in a Semifinal but almost making a dream come true for the then-juniors and their Lake Leelanau St. Mary coach, Matt Barnowski, also Dylan’s father.

That dream began for some when the boys were coached by Matt as third graders, and they made serious strides last season. Before last winter, the last time the Eagles had won a Regional championship was 1950 – and no St. Mary boys basketball team had reached the Semifinals. Bramer and Dylan Barnowski – along with current seniors Jack Glynn, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar – had high hopes of making more history this winter.

The dream ended Wednesday night with a Regional Final loss to Frankfort, which St. Mary had defeated 54-41 during the regular season. This time, the Eagles were faced with a large number of K-12 students succumbing to illness – with all five of its starters at least somewhat sick – as nearly a third of the school’s tiny enrollment was out of school the day after the loss to the Panthers.

But you won’t hear any of the players or coaches making excuses. They give all the credit to Frankfort, and they’re ready to move on. And many in the LSM family know reaching the Regional Finals this season and Breslin Center in 2022 had absolutely no probability had Bramer and Barnowski not made an iron-clad agreement last summer. 

Eagles coach Matt Barnowski coaches up his team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick.The two friends vowed to help each other despite their personal, opposing challenges.

Barnowski and Bramer, through LSM’s cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay, went 3-for-3 playing in 8-Player Division 1 Football Finals during their first three years of high school. But through last summer Barnowski, who quarterbacked the Norseman, had no interest in football.  

Bramer, meanwhile, had been nursing a quad tendon injury since his sophomore football season and battling two bad knees but was thinking he could suffer though football and sit out the basketball season to recover. The all-state running back experienced training difficulties and even had his strength training severely hampered.

Football was king for Bramer, and he also loved basketball too. Basketball is number one to Barnowski. The longtime friends decided cut a deal to help each other — and their teammates — out.

“I was kind of on the edge,” said Bramer, who plays with braces on both knees. “After talking to each other, we both ended up just playing. 

“I really shouldn’t be playing sports, but I couldn’t miss out playing with my friends,” he continued. “We just figured it was our last season so we might as well just do it.”

Dylan Barnowski and Brammer also teamed up during successful football careers. Barnowski had been considering ending his football days immediately after the Norse fell short in their third-straight trip to the Finals, at Superior Dome in Marquette in Fall 2021. That loss was at the hands of Adrian Lenawee Christian 31-20.

The Norseman graduated most of their offensive and defense lines last spring and expected to be small in numbers. Until this fall, they had lost only one regular-season game on their way to three straight title game appearances. This year they finished 3-5.

The big linemen losses — Barnowski’s protection — was forcing him to weigh his injury risk against having a senior basketball season.

“We did it for each other,” Barnowski said. “I talked with Shawn, and we knew we had a big community behind us and it would be hard for them if we just quit. 

“I knew we weren’t going to have the same powerhouse team we had,” he continued. “We weren’t very good this year, but we still had a blast.”

This week’s loss put an end to the possible Breslin championship finish, but it left the friends happy with the decision to play both sports. The Eagles finished 20-4.

Barnowski led St. Mary in scoring. He averaged better than 20 points a game with more than seven rebounds and five assists. Bramer averaged just under 15 points per game, and almost 10 rebounds.

The two big men each scored 11 in the season-ending loss. Thompson scored 14. This year’s senior-dominated team likely will be remembered for its basketball success for some time. Barnowski, Bramer and Glynn experienced only one loss in District play over their four seasons.

“It’s a really special groups of kids,” Coach Barnowski said. “These kids kind of transformed St. Mary’s basketball.  

St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Brammer, Jack Gwynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. “They’ve really built the program,” he continued. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”

Bramer and Dylan Barnowski also played baseball in the past for the Eagles, but that likely won’t happen this spring. Barnowski plans to golf, and Bramer expects to sit the spring season out and heal.

“We’ll never forget these last four years of varsity we played,” Barnowski said. “I‘ve decided to go a more relaxing route, and I’m going for some golf.”

With their Breslin dream over, the friends are ready to enjoy the St. Mary’s community support and move on. They’re bummed so many were sick in the end but won’t use it as an excuse.

“Hats off to Frankfort,” Barnowski said. “They did an incredible job of shutting us down.”

Bramer agreed.

“They just played their game better than we did,” he said. “They took the lead at the end of the third quarter, and it was a battle from there.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at tomspencer@chartermi.net with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) St. Mary’s seniors Dylan Barnowski, left, and Shawn Bramer hold up the team’s District championship trophy last week. (2) Eagles coach Matt Barnowski, center, and assistant Sander Scott coach up their team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick. (3) Dylan Barnowski and Bramer also teamed up during successful football careers. (4) St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Bramer, Jack Glynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. (Sideline photo by Tom Spencer; player photos by Emmerson Lamb Photography.)