1st & Goal: 2021 Week 7 Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
October 8, 2021
Rivalries play out every week of the nine-game football regular season – but a few we watch for every fall top the Week 7 schedule.
Neighbors Port Huron and Port Huron Northern will face off with a league title on the line, as will Marquette and Menominee, and the Muskegon High/Mona Shores matchup will decide first place in their conference as well. Saline/Temperance Bedford and St. Joseph/Stevensville Lakeshore will have similar impacts.
MHSAA.tv will carry more than 175 games live this weekend, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Rockford/Caledonia game on its primary cable channel and State Champs! Sports Network streaming Saturday's Warren Michigan Collegiate/Harper Woods Chandler Park matchup. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center.
Also, circle Oct. 24 on your calendars and tune your TVs to Bally Sports Detroit’s primary channel for the MHSAA’s annual football playoff selection show, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. The fields and full brackets for 11 and 8-player will be announced.
(Games below are Friday unless noted.)
Bay & Thumb
Port Huron (5-1) at Port Huron Northern (6-0)
This rivalry this season will be a championship decider with the winner tonight claiming the Macomb Area Conference Blue title outright. Port Huron is the reigning champion and won last year’s meeting 20-7, and actually has claimed the last two matchups as these teams split regular season and playoff games in 2019. It’s very possible this will be just the first chapter again this fall; Northern is ranked No. 5 in Division 2 and the Big Reds are No. 14. They’re succeeding with different strengths; Port Huron has scored 28 or more points in five straight games since an opening-night loss to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, while the Huskies are scoring less but giving up only eight points per game.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Reese (5-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (5-1), Goodrich (5-1) at Lake Fenton (5-1), Midland Dow (4-2) at Lapeer (5-1), Swartz Creek (3-3) at Flushing (3-3).
Romeo (5-1) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (5-1)
After a few tough seasons playing in one of the state’s strongest leagues, Stevenson got rolling last fall and hasn’t stopped. The Titans shared the 2020 MAC Red title but can finish an outright championship tonight – while a Romeo win would mean a shared title between the two as the Bulldogs fell by three points to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley two weeks ago. Stevenson has scored at least 30 points every game, including a Week 1 loss to still-unbeaten Rockford, while Romeo excels defensively and has given up 13 or fewer points in all of their five wins (but 37 in the loss to the Big Reds). Stevenson won last season’s meeting with Romeo 14-7.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (6-0) at Dearborn Fordson (5-1), Allen Park (5-1) at Harper Woods (5-1), Detroit Osborn (4-2) at Detroit Pershing (4-2). SATURDAY Harper Woods Chandler Park (4-2) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (4-2).
Gladwin (6-0) at Clare (4-2)
The Flying G’s also took a big jump in 2020 and have guaranteed their most successful finish since 2014. They can add tonight a share of their first Jack Pine Conference championship since 2002, their first season in the league. Gladwin is scoring nearly 63 points per game and has five shutouts in six games – the only points given up were 18 three weeks ago in a 40-point win. But the JPC road always goes through reigning champ Clare, and the Pioneers have defeated the Flying G’s all 19 seasons they’ve been in the league together, including 41-30 a year ago. Clare’s defeats this season are to Freeland and Marquette teams that are a combined 10-2.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (6-0) at Breckenridge (4-2), Lansing Catholic (6-0) at Charlotte (4-2), New Lothrop (4-2) at Durand (5-1), Olivet (4-2) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Boyne City (5-1) at Mancelona (5-0)
Mancelona’s best start since back-to-back 10-1 finishes in 2011 and 2012 fast forwards this week into what could be an unforgettable regular-season conclusion with Boyne City this week also undefeated in Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders play and Week 8 opponent Charlevoix only a game back. The Ironmen are coming off an open date and have had a little more time to prepare for a Ramblers team that lost only to Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago but bounced back big last week against Kalkaska. Boyne City has played one more league game than Mancelona and can clinch a share of the league title if victorious tonight; the Ramblers already own a 27-8 Week 2 win over Charlevoix as well. Boyne City won last season’s meeting 48-6.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Petoskey (3-3) at Cadillac (4-2), Harbor Springs (1-5) at Frankfort (5-1), Traverse City Central (5-1) at Alpena (1-5), Charlevoix (5-1) at Kalkaska (1-5).
Southeast & Border
Saline (6-0) at Temperance Bedford (5-1)
The last time Saline lost a Southeastern Conference Red game was Week 5 of 2013 – to Temperance Bedford. This matchup has determined the league champion three times since the Kicking Mules claimed the title that season, and Saline has a one-game edge heading into this weekend thanks to Bedford’s one-point loss to Ann Arbor Huron in Week 4. Three of the last five games between these two have been decided by one score – although Saline won last season 56-14. The Hornets are ranked No. 3 in Division 1, while Bedford is No. 6 in Division 2 from a league that also has Huron at No. 10 in Division 1, Dexter slated to make the playoffs and Monroe only one spot away from doing the same with three games to play.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Sand Creek (4-2) at Erie Mason (4-2), Napoleon (5-1) at Michigan Center (5-1), Dundee (4-2) at Clinton (4-2), Chelsea (6-0) at Tecumseh (3-3).
Stevensville Lakeshore (5-1) at St. Joseph (5-1)
The Bears lost an overtime heartbreaker last week to Portage Central but have had to rebound quickly with this game now pitting two of the three teams sitting in first place in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Lakeshore has defeated St. Joseph in nine of their last 10 meetings, including 26-0 and then 14-9 in the playoffs a year ago – when the Lancers were the only team to defeat the Bears. Lakeshore’s loss this fall came against Portage Northern in Week 4, and it won by four against Portage Central in the season opener. St. Joseph downed Northern 21-3 in Week 3.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY South Haven (5-1) at Berrien Springs (6-0), Vicksburg (5-1) at Plainwell (5-1), Cassopolis (4-2) at White Pigeon (5-1), Watervliet (4-2) at Kalamazoo United (4-2).
Menominee (4-2) at Marquette (5-1)
This matchup once again will decide the Great Northern Conference title, as Marquette can clinch the championship outright with a win and Menominee can clinch a share with a Week 9 meeting with Kingsford left on the GNC schedule. Marquette has won the last two league titles outright after sharing with Escanaba in 2018, and its only loss this season came Week 2 against Traverse City Central, which can clinch the Big North Conference title outright this week. Menominee’s losses both qualify as good ones – both came to Wisconsin teams that are 6-1, and because of that the Maroons are No. 13 in Division 6. Marquette is No. 16 in Division 3 coming off a one-point win last week over Clare (mentioned above).
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hancock (3-3) at Iron Mountain (3-3), L'Anse (3-3) at Ishpeming Westwood (5-1), Traverse City St. Francis (6-0) at Sault Ste. Marie (4-2). SATURDAY Calumet (4-2) at Houghton (4-2).
Muskegon (5-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-1)
Undefeated Caledonia and Rockford meet with first place on the line in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red, but it’s tough these days to not call Muskegon High/Mona Shores this region’s top game of any week. They are tied atop the O-K Green, both having lost to Detroit Public School League powers (Muskegon to Cass Tech and Mona Shores to Martin Luther King). The Big Reds haven’t given up a point since Week 3 and before that allowed just 20 to a Zeeland West team averaging nearly 40 per game. Mona Shores will counter with an offense averaging 47 points per game. The Sailors won last season’s meeting 21-14 on the way to eventually claiming their second-straight Division 2 championship.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Caledonia (6-0) at Rockford (6-0), Manistee (4-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (5-1), Grand Rapids Christian (3-3) at Byron Center (6-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-0) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (6-0).
Mendon (5-1) at Martin (6-0)
The winner receives a share of the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 title, and this will be their first meeting since 1997. Martin is in the midst of its third season as a force in 8-player football, and Mendon made the format switch this fall and has only a nonleague loss to Bridgman keeping it from a matching perfect start. Subtract that defeat, when the Hornets were shut out, and they’re averaging 58 points per game in their wins. Martin no doubt will incorporate a little bit of what worked for the Bees to augment a defense that has given up only a combined 18 points in five games played (the sixth win was a forfeit).
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Suttons Bay (6-0) at Marion (6-0), Waldron (5-1) at Tekonsha (4-2), Pickford (5-1) at Newberry (5-1), Genesee (4-1) at Morrice (6-0).
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PHOTO Muskegon's defense readies for the snap this season against Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
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.
Last 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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
“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 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 email@example.com 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.)