'Coach Dad' Angers Takes Time to Be Fan

February 21, 2020

By Tom Spencer
Special for Second Half

For the second time in four years, Jerry Angers walked onto Ford Field last fall with his Maple City Glen Lake football team seeking an MHSAA Finals championship.

It is not likely he’ll do so again.

The next time he sees those athletes play who he led to the Finals in 2016 and 2019, they will be suiting up all over the Midwest and possibly country for college football competition. It may even be in professional football stadiums, as some of his former players have experienced.

Angers announced his plans to step down as the Glen Lake head football coach at the end of an 11-year run with a 74-42 record. After the 7-0 loss to Monroe St. Mary in November’s Division 6 championship game, he made the difficult decision many MHSAA coaches face.

He’s putting his family, and in particular son Duke, first.

The younger Angers plays football for Saginaw Valley State University. He’ll be starting his junior campaign in August, and “Coach Dad” (as Duke calls him) will be there watching every game and supporting his son. At the same time, Jerry will watch several others he coached play with — and against — his son’s Cardinals team.

The younger Angers is one of 70 football players Coach Dad has mentored in high schools all over Michigan who have gone on to or will play college football. Duke plays H-back and tight end for the Cardinals. Two current Lakers, Ben Kroll and Jonathan Wright, are headed to SVSU next year to play with Duke. A few other Glen Lake grads from the team that fell in the 2016 Division 6 Final, 26-14 to Jackson Lumen Christi, also are playing at the college level. That gives Coach Dad lots of chances to see his former players compete.

In particular he’s excited to see Cade and Drew Peterson when Grand Valley State University and the Cardinals meet in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Association play, although the Peterson brothers will be on the opposing sideline.

Like many were, Duke was a little stunned by his Dad’s decision.

“His first comment was, ‘Dad, those kids need you more than I do,’” Jerry Angers recalled. “I told him I need to be there for you.”

Angers will continue as a teacher at Glen Lake and head up the Lakers’ strength and conditioning program and serve as the assistant track coach.  He’s excited to have a little more time to travel with his wife Kathy, and to just watch football and visit his daughter Megan in Denver.

“Thankfully, Coach Angers isn't going anywhere,” said Lakers athletic director Mark Mattson. “He will still play a very important role in our school and for our students, regardless of whether or not they participate in sports. While I am still somewhat shocked by Jerry’s decision, I am not completely surprised because I know how hard it has been on him to not spend more time with his family. He has tried to give his all to Glen Lake and his family.”

Mattson’s thoughts sum up the reaction to Anger’s decision, Coach Dad believes.

“Everyone has been very supportive here from the administration, the community, the players to the staff,” Angers said. “I am still here and will continue to do all the other things I’ve been doing.”

As Coach Dad looks to next football season, he is hoping to continue playing a special role for another one of his former players, Keegan Royston. Keegan’s father, Eric, a long-time MHSAA basketball and soccer referee and educator in the Lansing and Traverse City areas, died in 2019 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Angers is taking the senior long-snapper down to SVSU in the near future. The Cardinals have their eyes on him for next year’s team. Angers and Royston will be having dinner with the three other Cardinals football players with ties to Glen Lake.

“I am looking forward to it,” Angers said. “Before Eric passed away, he told me Keegan is going to need a strong role model to look up to. It’s pretty special for me as a coach to have this opportunity to help.”

Angers’ coaching career included stops at Bay City Handy, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West, Royal Oak and Waterford Kettering. A handful of his former players made it to the National Football League. He admits it is awesome to know he played a role in their development, but all of his former players are special to him.

“Ah, ‘Coach’ – that is the word, the label you always want and love to hear,” Angers said. “It is something to run into former players and get a greeting with ‘Hey coach!’”

And while Angers won’t be coaching Glen Lake in the fall, he is certain the Lakers will continue to raise the bar and find new ways to clear it.

“I believe the Lakers will continue to rise,” he predicted.

“They’re not going to fall off one bit. They are a great bunch of kids. And they want to compete.”

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 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) Recently-retired Maple City Glen Lake football coach Jerry Angers, with wife Kathy, son Duke and daughter Megan during Duke’s Lakers career. (Middle) Angers attends one of Duke’s games at Saginaw Valley State University with his family. Duke is No. 88 and his roommate Jake Dorn also is pictured. (Photos courtesy of the Angers family.)

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.)