1st & Goal: Week 9 in Review

October 26, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Whether it’s 6-0, 0-6, or somewhere in between, your local football team deserves our admiration for a job well done this fall.

We started late, after not knowing if we’d play at all, and amid a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. And regardless of the wins and losses on the field, every team contributed to a figure worth celebrating – every week of this abbreviated regular season, at least 96 percent of varsity teams were cleared to play, a credit to the work done by players, coaches, administrators and families statewide to ensure that continued opportunity.

Of course, there were other memorable numbers established this weekend on the field – perhaps none more incredible than Bridgman’s record 47-point comeback highlighted in our 8-player review.

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Midland 32, Midland Dow 6 The Chemics (6-0) nearly reversed last season’s 42-7 loss to Dow, in doing so clinching an outright Saginaw Valley League Blue title and their first perfect regular season since 2012. Midland held the Chargers (4-2) scoreless until the fourth quarter. With wins by both this week, they would meet again in a Division 2 District Semifinal. Click for more from the Midland Daily News and see highlights below from WJRT.

Watch list Grand Blanc 14, Saline 13 The Bobcats (5-1) finished runners-up in the SVL Red, but added to their intriguing playoff potential by handing Saline (5-1) its first loss.

Remember this one Davison 37, Lapeer 6 The Cardinals’ first regular-season win over Lapeer (3-3) since 2017 sealed the SVL Red championship. Davison (6-0) hosts Lapeer this week in Division 1 and has beaten the Lightning in the playoffs two of the last three seasons.

More shoutouts Fenton 33, Ortonville Brandon 21 The Tigers (6-0) remain undefeated after handing Brandon (5-1) its first defeat in this matchup of Flint Metro League divisional champions. Imlay City 28, Almont 14 The Spartans (4-2) defeated the reigning Division 5 runner-up Pirates (2-2) for the first time since 2008 and after losing 56-7 a year ago.

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Macomb Dakota 42, Traverse City Central 16 The Cougars (5-1) are surging heading into the Division 1 playoffs, adding this win over Big North Conference champion Central to its shared Macomb Area Conference Red title. Dakota scored its season high and held the Trojans (5-1) to 36 points below their season average. Click for more from MLive-Detroit and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.

Watch list Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 23, Detroit Country Day 13 The Warriors (5-1) are on a roll heading into the Division 3 playoffs after handing Country Day (3-2) its first on-field loss of the fall.

Remember this one New Boston Huron 34, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 0 After tying for second in the Huron League, the Chiefs (5-1) are rolling into the Division 3 bracket as well after handing Western Wayne Athletic Conference champion Crestwood (5-1) its first defeat.

More shoutouts Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 40, Birmingham Groves 14 The Cougars (6-0) capped their first undefeated regular season by clinching the outright Oakland Activities Association White title against annual contender Groves (3-3). Detroit Catholic Central 45, Detroit Loyola 14 The Shamrocks (6-0) added the Prep Bowl Bishop championship to their Catholic League Central title, handing AA champ Loyola (5-1) its first loss.


HEADLINER Mason 40, Williamston 10 The Capital Area Activities Conference Red title came down to these two undefeated teams, and more specifically to Mason’s offense vs. Williamston’s defense. The Bulldogs (6-0) prevailed to repeat as champs, scoring nearly half of the points Williamston has given up all season while also holding the Hornets (5-1) to their season low. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal and see highlights below from WLNS.

Watch list Lansing Catholic 28, Pewamo-Westphalia 13 The Cougars (4-2) haven’t grabbed as much attention as usual this season, but consider their losses were to teams that are a combined 11-1 – and that they are headed to the playoffs having ended P-W’s 19-game winning streak.

Remember this one Clare 26, Sanford Meridian 20 The Pioneers’ only single-digit regular-season game decided the Jack Pine Conference title, as Clare (6-0) earned it outright and denied Meridian (4-2) a chance to share.

More shoutouts DeWitt 43, Stevensville Lakeshore 6 The Panthers (5-0) have been on a tear from the start, holding five opponents to six or fewer points and putting up 43 against a Lakeshore defense that was giving up only 10 per game. Olivet 61, Stockbridge 12 The Eagles (5-1) bounced back from their lone defeat to close out their fourth-straight Greater Lansing Activities Conference title.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Charlevoix 19, Maple City Glen Lake 8 Playing the Lakers (4-2) for the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders championship for the second year in a row, the Red Rayders claimed their first league title in football since 2000. The win also gave Charlevoix (6-0) its first perfect regular season since 1977, according to Michigan-football.com. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review and see highlights below from MI Sports Now.

Watch list Johannesburg-Lewiston 60, Harbor Springs 29 The Cardinals (6-0) locked up their third-straight NMFC Legacy title and second-straight undefeated regular season by doubling up second-place Harbor Springs (3-3).

Remember this one Oscoda 24, Houghton Lake 6 The Owls (6-0) faced their toughest challenge this fall and answered it well, giving up their first points of the season but still holding Houghton Lake (4-2) to nearly 30 below their average.

More shoutouts Kingsley 36, Benzie Central 20 The Stags (6-0) closed out a second-straight NMFC Legends championship with their 20th-straight regular-season victory. Traverse City St. Francis 21, Jackson Lumen Christi 20 While reigning Division 7 runner-up Lumen (2-4) has had a tough run, this could end up a telling result as both head into the same division again and with St. Francis (4-2) a second seed while pursuing a seventh-straight District title.

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Addison 56, Grass Lake 22 The Panthers (6-0) finished a second-straight perfect run through their Cascades Conference schedule and first undefeated regular season since 2006 while keeping Grass Lake (4-2) from earning a share of the championship. Addison has won three of its last four against the Warriors. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Watch list Chelsea 26, Monroe 17 The Bulldogs (6-0) finished a second-straight undefeated regular season with Monroe (4-2) their fifth opponent that finished .500 or better this fall.

Remember this one Clinton 21, Hillsdale 14 The Lenawee County Athletic Association title went to Blissfield, but Clinton (5-1) in its first season in the league won this matchup for second place, with the Hornets (4-2) ending in third.

More shoutouts Erie Mason 56, Pittsford 0 The Eagles (6-0) finished their first perfect regular season since 2003, and after last winning more than two games in a season in 2005. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 49, Detroit Southeastern 34 The Falcons (4-2) earned their most impressive win, handing Detroit Public School League 4 champion Southeastern (5-1) its only defeat.

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Buchanan 20, Niles Brandywine 6 The list of accomplishments is growing for the Bucks (6-0) – they won the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference title outright, with their first perfect regular season since 2015, and after winning a combined five games over the last three seasons. Brandywine (3-3) had won the last three meetings between these teams, and two straight league titles. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.

Watch list Constantine 70, Coloma 32 The Falcons (5-1) finished a perfect run through the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore and earned the second seed in their Division 6 District opposite Buchanan.

Remember this one St. Joseph 22, Battle Creek Lakeview 14 There wasn’t a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference title on the line this time, but there very well could be next time and St. Joseph (5-1) will enter that game with two wins in its last three matchups with Lakeview (4-2).

More shoutouts Edwardsburg 60, Paw Paw 6 The Eddies (6-0) completed their third-consecutive undefeated regular season and will be the top seed in their Division 4 District with Paw Paw (4-2) the third. Lawton 19, Saugatuck 2 The Blue Devils locked up second place in the SAC Valley and the second seed in a Division 7 District where they could face league champ Schoolcraft in two weeks.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Marquette 28, Calumet 6 Arguably the most impressive part of Marquette’s performance this fall has been its defense, which is giving up 13 points per game – a full seven points fewer than last year. Calumet (2-3) hadn’t been held to single digits since the 2018 playoffs, but Marquette (5-1) has held its last two opponents to six points apiece. Click for more from the Upbeat. 

Watch list Bark River-Harris 28, L’Anse 0 After an 0-2 start, Bark River-Harris (3-2) won its final three regular-season games and hasn’t given up a point in its last two.

Remember this one Escanaba 20, Gladstone 12 The Eskymos (1-2) bounced back from their first on-field loss with a 10th-straight win over Gladstone (2-3), enough to earn the fifth seed in their Division 4 District.

More shoutouts West Iron County 36, St. Ignace 22 The Wykons (6-0) capped their first perfect regular season since 2013 with their best offensive output of this fall. Sault Ste. Marie 60, Cheboygan 0 The Blue Devils (4-2) secured second place in the NMFC Legends.

West Michigan  

HEADLINER Grand Rapids Catholic Central 28, Grand Rapids South Christian 27 (OT) This was just about all that could be hoped for from a matchup of undefeated teams playing for a league championship. At the end, GRCC (6-0) had clinched its sixth-straight league title, back in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold, after winning outright or sharing the Blue championship the last four seasons. Click for more from WOOD TV.

Watch list Muskegon Mona Shores 35, Detroit Martin Luther King 21 This rematch of last season’s Division 2 Final ended with nearly the same score, great news for the reigning champion Sailors (3-3) and not necessarily bad for King (3-3) as it plays in Division 3 this time.

Remember this one Rockford 28, Grandville 8 The Rams (4-0) missed two weeks but came back in time to finish without a loss in the O-K Red while handing Grandville (5-1) its lone league defeat.

More shoutouts Hudsonville Unity Christian 42, Allendale 6 The Crusaders (6-0) finished a perfect run through the O-K Blue with their third single-digit defensive performance of the fall, holding Allendale (3-3) to a season-low points total. East Grand Rapids 12, Byron Center 8 The Pioneers (3-3) handed Byron Center (5-1) its only loss, allowing Forest Hills Central with its win over Lowell to share the O-K White championship with the Bulldogs.


HEADLINER Bridgman 54, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 53 (OT) The Bees set an MHSAA record – 8 and 11-player – for largest comeback winning this game after trailing by 47 points. With Martin having to forfeit a game to Lawrence, the Bees (5-1) joined the Clippers as one-loss teams atop the final Southwestern Michigan 8-Man Football League standings. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Watch list Portland St. Patrick 52, Burr Oak 19 Handing Burr Oak (5-1) its only loss kept St. Patrick (6-0) undefeated and cemented the Shamrocks as the top seed in the Division 2 Playoffs. 

Remember this one Morrice 58, Deckerville 30 The Orioles (6-0) also are a top seed, in Division 1, but Deckerville (4-2) is a possible Regional Semifinal opponent.

More shoutouts Mayville 48, Kinde North Huron 28 The matchup of North Central Thumb League champions went to the Stars winner as the Wildcats (6-0) handed Stripes champ North Huron its lone loss (5-1). Merrill 38, Indian River Inland Lakes 6 The Vandals (5-1) continue to look like contenders, bouncing back off a four-point loss to St. Patrick by handing Inland Lakes its only defeat.

PHOTO: Addison blockers lead the way for a teammate during Friday's win over Grass Lake. (Photo by Scott Mapes.)

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.)