1st & Goal: 2021 Week 6 in Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 4, 2021

As we get deeper into the regular season, we expect to see league championship races draw to a close and the best of the best locally separate from the rest.

MI Student AidWeek 6 saw plenty of contenders begin pulling away and toward conference titles – but also a good share of packs grow as we head into the final three weeks before playoff selection.

We highlight many of both in this week’s review:

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Goodrich 48, Ortonville Brandon 21 The Martians (5-1) came way back to get past Brandon and secure a share of the Flint Metro League Stars championship. Goodrich scored 38 unanswered second-half points after Brandon (5-1) scored the first touchdown of the third quarter to take a 21-10 lead. Jace Simerson was among standouts with 187 yards and three touchdowns rushing, with two of those scores during the third quarter 28-7 blast. Click for more from WJRT.

Watch list Bad Axe 37, Reese 7 The Hatchets (6-0) won a matchup of undefeated Greater Thumb Conference West contenders to set up a potential Week 8 league title decider with Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker, which also is unbeaten in league play. Laker must get by Reese (5-1) this week, however, and Bad Axe faces Vassar with an opportunity to set up a winner-take-all showdown.

Remember this one Flint Kearsley 40, Fenton 38 The Hornets (3-3) would need three results to go their way to claim a share of the Metro League Stripes title this week. But their first win over Fenton in 14 tries as members of the league together also put the Tigers (3-3) in a must-win situation if they hope to clinch a share and run their league title streak to 11.

More shoutouts Flint Hamady 52, Burton Bendle 20 Since scoring seven points total over back-to-back losses to begin the season, Hamady (4-2) has won all four of its Genesee Area Conference games to clinch a share of the league title, scoring 52 or more points in three of those victories. Bay City Western 54, Midland 8 The Warriors (5-1) have guaranteed their best overall finish since 2012 with their first win over Midland since 2008 – and this one also kept Western in the Saginaw Valley League Blue title conversation with leader Mount Pleasant coming up in two weeks.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER West Bloomfield 34, Clarkston 27 (OT) The Lakers (5-1) emerged with a share of the Oakland Activities Association Red championship, also avenging last season’s 24-21 loss to the Wolves (5-1) that ended up deciding the 2020 league title. West Bloomfield standout Dillon Tatum made multiple plays at the end with all of that on the line, scoring in overtime and intercepting a Clarkston pass in the end zone to end the game on the ensuing possession. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Watch list Sterling Heights Stevenson 36, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 32 After sharing the league title last season, Stevenson (5-1) has emerged from a crowded group of state-renowned contenders again, clinching a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title with this win over the Big Reds (4-2). Stevenson can win the league outright this week against Romeo.  

Remember this one Warren De La Salle Collegiate 17, Detroit Catholic Central 7 The Detroit Catholic League Central title belongs to the Pilots (5-0), who avenged last season’s 14-10 loss to the Shamrocks (4-2) and also earned a 5-4 advantage against DCC over the rivalry’s last nine games.

More shoutouts Riverview 42, Milan 29 The Pirates (6-0) need one more Huron League win over the next two games to repeat as champions and all but ended title aspirations for the Big Reds (4-2). Rochester Adams 28, North Farmington 21 (OT) The Highlanders (6-0) put together a string of big plays late to emerge with a share of the OAA White championship. Trailing midway through the fourth quarter, Adams forced a turnover deep in North Farmington territory, scored on the next possession to tie the game, then scored the first points of overtime and stopped the Raiders (3-3) on their possession to finish the job.


HEADLINER Lansing Catholic 31, Portland 29 The Cougars (6-0) took a two-score lead into the fourth quarter, but needed 33-yard field goal by Jonah Richards on the game’s final play to push past the Raiders (5-1) and clinch a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference White championship. Portland had won 33 straight league games dating to 2014. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Williamston 21, Haslett 14 Three teams are tied atop the CAAC Red standings with a league game to play after Williamston (4-2) stopped Haslett’s attempt to clinch a share of the championship. Both the Vikings and Mason are also 4-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, and all three play opponents this week with 1-3 conference records.

Remember this one New Lothrop 66, Ovid-Elsie 24 The Mid-Michigan Activities Conference is back to a four-team league title race with these two and Durand all 4-1 and Montrose 3-1 with two MMAC games to play. New Lothrop (4-2) sees Durand this week, while Ovid-Elsie (4-2) finishes the conference slate with two opponents that are a combined 2-7 in league play.

More shoutouts Hartland 29, Howell 7 This finish along with Canton’s win over Brighton also created a three-team tie atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West standings between the Eagles (5-1), Highlanders (5-1) and Chiefs. Howell must still see Brighton, and Hartland takes on Canton in Week 8. Pewamo-Westphalia 26, Olivet 14 The Pirates (6-0) appear well on their way to another Central Michigan Athletic Conference championship and got their toughest test of the season from the Eagles (4-2), who will face Lakewood this week for the outright Greater Lansing Activities Conference title.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Traverse City Central 24, Cadillac 0 The Trojans (5-1) put together their second-straight shutout to claim a share of the Big North Conference championship, and they can finish a third-straight outright league title run this week against one-win Alpena. Cadillac (4-2) did hold Central to its season low in points, but the Trojans took a 21-0 lead into halftime in extending their BNC winning streak to 18 with that one league game left before moving into the Saginaw Valley League for football in 2022. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Watch list Charlevoix 14, East Jordan 6 The Rayders (5-1) will need help to end up with a title share in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division, but handing a defeat to Legacy co-leader East Jordan (4-2) provided a nice playoff points bonus boost.  

Remember this one Traverse City West 22, Petoskey 16 As West (5-1) also prepares to leave for the SVL, Petoskey in 2015 was the only team other than Central to defeat the Titans over the last seven seasons. Three of the last six meetings since were decided by one score.

More shoutouts Grayling 36, Sault Ste. Marie 32 With Legends contenders Kingsley and Traverse City St. Francis behind them, Grayling (4-2) has an opportunity to build some serious momentum heading into a playoff appearance – and defeating Sault Ste. Marie (4-2) was a great start. Boyne City 48, Kalkaska 16 The Ramblers (5-1) face Mancelona this week with a share of the Leaders title on the line, and they enjoyed a nice bounce-back after suffering their lone loss in Week 5.  

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Jonesville 34, Reading 8 The Comets (6-0) clinched a share of a Big 8 Conference repeat championship with another strong defensive performance, making it five games of holding opponents to eight or fewer points while lowering their average to 6.8 points allowed per game. This time they stopped a Reading offense averaging 37 points per game. The Rangers (4-2) fell into a tie for third place, and Jonesville needs to defeat winless Quincy this week to claim the league title outright. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Watch list Ann Arbor Huron 28, Dexter 21 The River Rats (5-1) have guaranteed their best finish since 2009, and one more win will take that back to tying their best since 2002. Huron surely will be cheering now for Dexter (4-2), which will play Southeastern Conference Red leader Saline in Week 8 with a chance to shake up the standings.

Remember this one Chelsea 49, Ypsilanti Community 13 The Bulldogs (6-0) clinched their third-straight SEC White championship and ran their regular-season winning streak to 21.  

More shoutouts Parma Western 13, Coldwater 7 Combined with Jackson Lumen Christi’s loss this weekend (see below), the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference race has a ton of possible conclusions – and Western (4-2) could be in the mix at the end. Napoleon 15, Grass Lake 0 The Pirates (5-1) kept alive a possible winner-take-all Cascades Conference title matchup in Week 8 against Addison, although they still must get past Michigan Center this week. Regardless, this one avenged a 39-0 loss to Grass Lake from last season.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Portage Central 36, St. Joseph 30 (OT) The Mustangs (4-2) also made a series of unforgettable plays late to create a three-team tie atop the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Aaron Pollack’s 30-yard field goal tied the score at 30-30 with 16 seconds left in regulation, the defense stopped the Bears (5-1) to start overtime and Thomas Layne scored the winning points on the ensuing possession. Click for more from WWMT.

Watch list Battle Creek Harper Creek 33, Jackson Lumen Christi 14 This one looked a little intriguing heading into the weekend. But many more eyes will be turned toward Harper Creek (5-1) and the I8AC over the next two weeks as this turned the title race into at least a three-teamer with Hastings also tied with these two for first.

Remember this one Centreville 28, Cassopolis 0 A third shutout this season gave Centreville a share of its second-straight Southwest 10 Conference championship. The Bulldogs can clinch it outright this week against Comstock, while Cassopolis (4-2) and White Pigeon remain a game back and face each other.

More shoutouts Edwardsburg 57, Paw Paw 14 For the third-straight week Edwardsburg (6-0) defeated another top-four team in the Wolverine Conference, with only the bottom three teams in the league standings left as the Eddies play for a fourth-straight undefeated regular season. Lawton 69, Montrose 40 A late add to the schedule became one for the record books – literally – as they combined to score 109 points. Lawton (6-0) entered as No. 5 in Division 7, and Montrose (4-2) was tied for the No. 13 spot.  

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Marquette 40, Clare 39 The Pioneers (4-2) scored first and led until Marquette went ahead for good with 7:40 to play. Seven of nine teams on Marquette’s schedule this season are .500 or better after Week 6, and this one provided another playoff points bonus boost. Marquette returns to Great Northern Conference play this week and can clinch the league title outright against Menominee, while Clare will face Gladwin for first in the Jack Pine Conference. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Watch list Calumet 21, Iron Mountain 6 Despite beginning the season 0-2, Calumet (4-2) has surged and sits in the middle of the title hunt in a Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper that still has all seven teams at .500 or better. The Copper Kings can claim a share by winning out.

Remember this one Menominee 46, Escanaba 20 The Maroons (4-2) set themselves up for that upcoming GNC clash referenced above, as they defeated Escanaba for the first time on the field since 2016.

More shoutouts Ishpeming Westwood 36, Hancock 6 The Patriots (5-1) remain in control of their West-PAC Copper destiny as a Week 9 matchup with Negaunee looks like it could decide at least one team that shares the league title. Negaunee 42, L'Anse 0 The Miners (5-1) held up their end of creating that season-finale showdown with their second-straight shutout and third this season.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Comstock Park 35, Belding 34 (OT) Comstock Park came back from a double-digit deficit and held on through overtime to hold onto a slim lead in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver. The Panthers (6-0) remain a game up on Hopkins and Sparta but have defeated both. Click for more from FOX 17.

Watch list Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 35, Grand Rapids Christian 28 (OT) The Rangers (5-1) are a four-point Week 2 loss to Grand Blanc from a perfect record, and they’re setting themselves up well to face Byron Center in Week 8 to decide the O-K White title after those two shared it last season. This win sent Christian out of a first-place tie and into third.

Remember this one Muskegon Catholic Central 52, Muskegon Heights Academy 20 The Crusaders (5-1) clinched a share of the Lakes 8 Activities Conference championship, their second straight, and will attempt to finish it outright this week against Manistee.

More shoutouts Grand Rapids West Catholic 28, Coopersville 24 Week 6 promised to bring clarity to the O-K Blue race, and West Catholic (6-0) is one of two teams still tied for first after also coming back from a double-digit deficit against the Broncos (5-1). Hudsonville Unity Christian 54, Spring Lake 21 Also in the Blue, Unity Christian (6-0) held onto the other share of first place by handing Spring Lake (5-1) its first loss. Unity and West Catholic face each other this week.


HEADLINER Portland St. Patrick 21, Vestaburg 20 The Shamrocks (6-0) took a 13-0 lead into halftime but had to hold off a Vestaburg comeback on the way to earning a share of the Central Michigan 8-Man Football Conference title. Both defenses shined; St. Patrick had averaged 50 points per game entering the weekend, and the Wolverines (5-1) had averaged just more than 60. Click for more from the Greenville Daily News.

Watch list Pellston 34, Gaylord St. Mary 8 The Hornets (6-0) may have made the Ski Valley Conference race a two-team chase by handing St. Mary (4-2) its first league loss. Pellston next faces the other team without a Ski Valley defeat, Indian River Inland Lakes.

Remember this one Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 44, Peck 36 The Irish (4-2) need help to earn a title share in the North Central Thumb League Stripes, but they gave some assistance to leader Kinde North Huron by sending Peck (5-1) out of a first-place tie.

More shoutouts Adrian Lenawee Christian 28, Climax-Scotts 12 The Cougars (6-0) navigated their closest game in two seasons of 8-player to take over first alone in the Southern Central Athletic Association A. Au Gres-Sims 58, Hale 50 The Wolverines (6-0) have scored 48 or more points every game this season, but survived a big offensive performance from Hale to remain in first alone in the North Star League.

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PHOTOS (Top) West Bloomfield’s Dillon Tatum (5) sprints past a pair of Clarkston defenders during Friday’s win. (Middle) Lansing Catholic’s Rory Durr (8) works to get upfield against Portland. (Top photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)

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.)