1st & Goal: Week 8 Preview

October 15, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The midpoint of every other regular season is crunch time during this abbreviated fall of 2020.

Teams across Michigan will play their fifth games this weekend – but a week from Saturday, all of this year’s league championships and playoff profile boosting will be complete.

Every game has meant even more, and below are a number of games this weekend that could end up meaning the most. 

Find the schedule and then results this weekend as they’re reported via the MHSAA Score CenterThis week’s broadcast schedule includes 53 varsity football games on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings

Bay & Thumb

Hemlock (4-0) at Millington (4-0)

This will decide the Tri-Valley Conference West I championship, with Hemlock seeking its first league title since 2012 and Millington its first since 2014. To finish first, the Huskies will need to break a recent three-game losing streak against the Cardinals, who won last year’s matchup 15-6. Millington’s defense might be the key this time; it has given up just 34 points over its other three league matchups. 

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Marine City (4-0) at Marysville (4-0), North Branch (4-0) at Imlay City (3-1), Bad Axe (3-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-1), Fenton (4-0) at Swartz Creek (3-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (4-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (3-1) at Detroit Collegiate Prep, Saturday

They opened this season with their closest result since 2015, Cass Tech winning 34-26, and now meet again in the Detroit Public School League 1-2 championship game. Both cruised through their league schedules, both giving up only seven points over their other three games this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (4-0), Garden City (3-1) at Dearborn Heights Crestwood (4-0), Detroit Central (4-0) vs. Detroit Southeastern (4-0) at Detroit Collegiate Prep. SATURDAY Clarkston Everest Collegiate (4-0) at Royal Oak Shrine (4-0).


McBain (4-0) at Beal City (4-0)

The Aggies were well on their way to a perfect run through the Highland Conference last season when third-place McBain stunned with a 27-0 win in the league finale – which sent Beal into a shared championship with Houghton Lake instead. McBain and Beal City are meeting in the league finale again, with the winner taking the championship outright.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Pewamo-Westphalia (4-0) at Fowler (4-0), Harrison (3-1) at Clare (4-0), Durand (4-0) at New Lothrop (4-0), Williamston (4-0) at Olivet (4-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula 

Sault Ste. Marie (3-1) at Kingsley (4-0)

The Blue Devils have launched an impressive chase of reigning champion Kingsley in their first season as part of the Northern Michigan Football Conference, as both are the only teams still unbeaten in Legends division play. Both have wins over Traverse City St. Francis, but Sault Ste. Marie’s victory over Marquette in Week 5 may turn out to have been even more important prep for the powerful Stags.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY East Jordan (3-1) at Johannesburg-Lewiston (4-0), Manistee (3-1) at Ludington (3-1), Cadillac (3-1) at Traverse City West (3-1). SATURDAY Ogemaw Heights (3-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (2-2).

Southeast & Border 

Erie Mason (4-0) at Sand Creek (4-0) 

The Eagles, first-year members of the Tri-County Conference, are in a league title conversation for the first time since winning the Lenawee County Athletic Association in 2003. They also can tie their winningest finish since 2003 with a victory this week or next, having won a combined eight games over the last seven seasons before this fall. Sand Creek is used to more success, but still is hoping to clinch its first league championship since 2011. Both have scored at least 46 points in every game this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Homer (4-0) at Reading (3-1), Monroe (3-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-1), Ida (2-2) at Blissfield (4-0), Michigan Center (1-1) at Manchester (2-2). 

Southwest Corridor 

Lawton (4-0) at Schoolcraft (3-1)

In 2019, Lawton won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title, and Schoolcraft the SAC Lakeshore championship. This fall, Schoolcraft moved into the Valley, and Lawton this weekend no doubt is rolling up the welcome mat – recalling as well how the Eagles defeated the Blue Devils 47-10 in last season’s Division 7 District Final.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Constantine (3-1) at Kalamazoo United (4-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (4-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (3-1), Cassopolis (2-2) at Mendon (3-1), Watervliet (2-2) at Coloma (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba (0-1) at Marquette (3-1)

Arguably the Upper Peninsula’s most famed rivalry will add one of its more interesting chapters, as Marquette has clinched a share of the Great Northern Conference championship while Escanaba is finally getting an opportunity to play its first game this fall. This could go a few ways. The Eskymos could show some rust against their game-sharpened rivals. They also could unleash a month’s worth of wanting to get back on the field now that they’ve finally gotten the chance.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gladstone (2-1) at Menominee (2-2), West Iron County (4-0) at Gwinn (2-2), Negaunee (3-1) at Houghton (1-1), Calumet (1-2) at Hancock (1-2).

West Michigan 

Whitehall (4-0) at Montague (4-0)

Tonight’s winner will clinch a share of the West Michigan Conference title, and Montague is a frequent part of the championship conversation. Whitehall is seeking its first WMC title since 1999, but has had a big role is making this one of the most competitive leagues in the state as well with five playoff appearances over the last six seasons. This matchup could be a test of defensive wills – the Vikings have allowed only three points this season, and Montague has given up a mere 12.  

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Zeeland West (4-0) at Muskegon (3-1), Allendale (3-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-1), Hamilton (2-2) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (4-0), Ada Forest Hills Eastern (3-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (4-0).


Kinde-North Huron (4-0) at Peck (3-1)

This showdown will decide at least a share of the North Central Thumb League Stripes championship, with North Huron able to clinch outright what would be its second title in four seasons. The Warriors have won six straight times over Peck, including in last season’s playoff opener – although the team’s regular-season meeting was decided by just eight points.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Munising (4-0) at Cedarville (3-1), Deckerville (3-1) at Genesee (3-1), Pickford (4-0) at Rapid River (3-1). SATURDAY Merrill (4-0) at Portland St. Patrick (4-0).

PHOTO: Muskegon Catholic Central is another undefeated team this fall; here the defense surrounds Sparta’s quarterback during the Oct. 2 victory. (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.

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.)