1st & Goal: Week 4 in Review
September 22, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
High school football returned to communities all over Michigan this past weekend. Everything from mask requirements to spectator limits made games look different.
But by the end of Saturday, much more felt closer to normal as nearly 600 teams took the field.
We’re still running a little behind, but catching up quickly with our “Week 4” review briefly detailing some of the results that could end up mattering most as we quickly roll through this abbreviated regular season.
We again split the state into regions and 8-player, with links to coverage and available video highlights included if tweeted by statewide media.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Frankenmuth 41, Freeland 3 Both won nine games last season and would be part of the Tri-Valley Conference Central together again this fall, but that division was split into two smaller ones for the abbreviated schedule. The Eagles got off to a fast start rolling up 312 yards rushing and holding the Falcons to only 144 yards total. Click for more from the Saginaw News.
Watch list Harbor Beach 16 Ubly 14 Harbor Beach claimed last year’s Greater Thumb Conference East title by a win over Ubly, and finds itself quickly leading the way again thanks to a late go-ahead 2-point conversion.
Remember this one Beaverton 6, Sanford Meridian 0 The Beavers started their Jack Pine Conference repeat campaign by defeating another major challenger in Meridian – and Beaverton doesn’t play last year’s runner-up Clare this season as that game previously had been scheduled for Week 3.
More shoutouts Linden 35, Flushing 21 The Eagles are coming off two straight 4-5 finishes, both of which began with losses to Flushing. Davison 48, Flint Powers Catholic 0 These teams combined for 22 wins last season, but Davison won the matchup this weekend by this score for the second straight year.
HEADLINER Detroit Cass Tech 34, Detroit Martin Luther King 26 It’s tough to think of a better season start for the Technicians than avenging last year’s 47-7 loss to their biggest rival. But this might just be round one again this fall. These two very well could meet in the Detroit Public School League championship game in four weeks. Click for more from the Detroit News and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Detroit King (@DetKingFootball) at Cass Tech (@Detroit_CTFB) football game from Saturday afternoon.
Brought to you by @LTUAthletics pic.twitter.com/ft01PSpn8l
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 20, 2020
Watch list Macomb Dakota 29, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 20 Dakota already had avenged last season’s 27-21 loss to eventual Macomb Area Conference Red champion Chippewa Valley, defeating the Big Reds 34-13 in a playoff opener. But this win makes the Cougars possible league favorites.
Remember this one Armada 24, Richmond 23 The Tigers are playing for their first winning season since 2012, and breaking a nine-game losing streak against Richmond is a great way to start.
More shoutouts West Bloomfield 39, Oak Park 0 These two Oakland Activities Association 2019 division champions are playing in the same OAA Red this fall. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 28, Walled Lake Western 7 The Eaglets opened with an impressive win over a Western team that fell a one-point loss to the eventual champion short from playing at Ford Field in 2019.
HEADLINER DeWitt 37, Portland 3 After Portland’s 29-27 win in this matchup was one of the most memorable games in the Lansing area for 2019, DeWitt made one of the loudest impressions statewide to start 2020. Both programs have averaged double-digit wins over the last five seasons. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the DeWitt (@DeWitt_Panthers) vs. Portland football game from Friday night.
Brought to you by @MHSAA pic.twitter.com/NPy2H299lr
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 20, 2020
Watch list Williamston 22, Fowlerville 6 Both were among four teams from the Capital Area Activities Conference Red to make the playoffs last season, and Williamston likely jumps in among the league title contenders with this win.
Remember this one Grand Ledge 34, St. Johns 17 The Comets won just two games a year ago, but opened with a win over a 2019 playoff team.
More shoutouts Saranac 35, Fulton 6 Saranac is halfway to last year’s win total after avenging a 29-point loss to the Pirates. Ithaca 47, Saginaw Nouvel 27 This was a major win for the Yellowjackets as both 2019 playoff teams are now part of the same division of the TVC West.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Traverse City Central 53, Traverse City West 13 This was the largest margin of victory in this rivalry game ever, after West split off from the former Traverse City High School in 1997. The Trojans have won two straight in the series. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Watch list McBain 30, Lake City 0 The Ramblers had lost five straight to Lake City, but look immediately like a contender in the Highland Conference.
Remember this one Charlevoix 58, Frankfort 14 The Red Rayders enjoyed one of the state’s most impressive turnarounds last season, and the momentum seems to be continuing as they scored their most points in a game since 2014.
More shoutouts East Jordan 14, Elk Rapids 6 The Red Devils had lost 12 straight to the Elks and hadn’t won a season opener since 2016. Harbor Springs 49, St. Ignace 0 These two were both playoff teams last season, when Harbor Springs won their matchup only 16-0.
HEADLINER Sturgis 25, Three Rivers 21 The Trojans have won just one game each of the last two seasons, but former star quarterback Chance Stewart has them off to a great start in 2020. This win in his head coaching debut was the program’s first over Three Rivers since 2015, the last time Sturgis finished a season with a winning record. Click for more including video from JoeInsider.com.
Watch list Schoolcraft 49, Constantine 14 The Eagles ran their winning streak to eight over rival Constantine, but both still have league title hopes in separate divisions after sharing a championship a year ago while playing in the same Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore.
Remember this one Battle Creek Pennfield 26, Battle Creek Harper Creek 20 Two good signs: The Panthers matched last season’s win total in the season debut and with their second win in seven tries against Harper Creek since the two joined the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference together.
More shoutouts Portage Northern 15, Stevensville Lakeshore 12 This has turned into one of the state’s closest annual matchups with now nine of their last 10 matchups decided by eight points or fewer; Northern has won three straight over the Lancers. Mendon 26, White Pigeon 24 The Hornets avenged last season’s two-point loss, especially key in a Southwest 10 Conference that’s down to just five 11-player teams.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Adrian Madison 42, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 24 The Trojans, seeking their first winning season since 2009, couldn’t have started better than with their first victory over Whiteford since 1980. The Bobcats had won last year’s matchup 42-14. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Watch list Jackson Lumen Christi 28, Marshall 27 This was arguably the most exciting nail-biter of this week’s openers, with the Titans coming back to score the game-winning points during the final minutes.
Remember this one Hillsdale 28, Hudson 21 For the third time in five seasons, this one was decided by eight points or fewer, as the reigning Lenawee County Athletic Association champion ran its league winning streak to nine.
More shoutouts Chelsea 35, Dexter 12 The Bulldogs retained their streak in this rivalry after a much closer win a year ago. Erie Mason 54, Petersburg Summerfield 21 A capable scorer in 2019 that struggled defensively, Erie Mason opened its tenure in the Tri-County Conference giving up its fewest points in a game since Week 2 of 2016.
HEADLINER Sault Ste. Marie 14, Traverse City St. Francis 7 Many eyes likely were caught by this Blue Devils win, with St. Francis coming off a trip to last year’s Regional Finals and averaging nearly 11 wins per season over the last five. But Sault Ste. Marie quietly has been building toward an attention grabber like this one, going 7-4 a year ago and winning a Division 4 playoff game. Click for more from The Sault Evening News.
Watch list Marquette 41, Menominee 18 This first meeting of two this fall didn’t count toward the Great Northern Conference standings but did send a pretty strong message as Marquette looks to win a third-straight title.
Remember this one Kingsford 17, Calumet 16 The Flivvers moved ahead to stay with 4:35 to play, handing Calumet only its second regular-season loss since 2017.
More shoutouts Houghton 3, Bark River-Harris 0 The Gremlins won their season opener for the first time since 2016 and after earning only two victories all of last season. Negaunee 39, Manistique 8 After just edging the Emeralds by two in 2019, Negaunee was able to stretch the margin this weekend.
HEADLINER Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 21, Grand Rapids Christian 13 Forest Hills Central, which finished second last season in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, welcomed reigning O-K Gold champion Grand Rapids Christian back into the league after four seasons away. The Rangers should again be White contenders, especially with reigning champion Cedar Springs among teams that moved to a new-look Gold this fall.
Check out the highlights of the Forest Hills Central (@fhcrangerball) vs. Grand Rapids Christian football game from Friday night. Video Courtesy: WXMI
Brought to you by @MHSAA pic.twitter.com/wbeW5OMPMe
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 19, 2020
Watch list Kent City 14, Morley Stanwood 0 The Eagles avenged the loss that decided the Central State Activities Association Silver title in favor of Morley Stanwood a year ago.
Remember this one Rockford 16, Jenison 13 (OT) The Rams are reigning champs in the O-K Red but got an immediate challenge from new league member Jenison, which formerly played in the O-K Black.
More shoutouts Hopkins 43, Muskegon Orchard View 0 The Vikings enjoyed an impressive start against an Orchard View program that was undefeated last regular season. Hudsonville 21, East Kentwood 13 East Kentwood had dismantled what was left of Hudsonville’s league title hopes last season – and the Eagles also broke a three-game losing streak to the Falcons with this avenging.
HEADLINER Vestaburg 28, Onekama 6 After going 0-9 in its final season of 11-player two years ago, Vestaburg improved substantially to 5-3 with the move to 8-player in 2019. But this weekend’s opening win certainly has been its most impressive post-switch, as the Portagers are just two years removed from finishing 8-Player Division 2 runner-up and went 7-4 last fall. Click for more from the Greenville Daily News.
Watch list Posen 52, Mio 22 The Thunderbolts’ undefeated league title run last season included a 20-point win over Posen, but the Vikings opened this fall by earning an upper hand in the North Star League’s first-year 8-player standings.
Remember this one Deckerville 58, New Haven Merritt Academy 17 These two reigning North Central Thumb League division champs are in the same division this fall, and Deckerville made an early statement.
More shoutouts North Adams-Jerome 14, Battle Creek St. Philip 12 The Rams beat the Tigers for the first time in four recent tries and after falling 41-0 last season. Genesee 54, Kingston 28 The Wolves more than flipped last year’s score after losing 52-30 to Kingston in 2019.
PHOTO: Marquette’s Justin Jurmu tries to pull in a pass from quarterback Austin Ridl, with Menominee’s Brady Waara trailing. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.)