Division 5 Football Final: Powers Up
November 26, 2011
DETROIT – The final night of September was cold, wet and especially disappointing for Flint Powers Catholic.
Chargers coach Bob Buckel sensed that frustration as the bus rolled to to a stop after 6-0 loss and then silent ride home from Davison. Powers already was 2-3 heading into that game and needing to win out to guarantee a playoff spot. Now at 2-4, perfection the rest of the way was absolutely necessary to catch even the slimmest of shots at a postseason berth.
The last eight games became unofficial playoff games for the Chargers. And they won them all.
Unranked and the underdog, Powers downed No. 1 Lansing Catholic in record-setting fashion Saturday, 56-26 to claim the MHSAA Division 5 championship at Ford Field.
“We knew that we had to win out. Nobody shied to that competition,” Powers senior lineman Danny O’Brien said. “We really got after it.”
And especially Saturday. The 56 points tied Saginaw Nouvel’s from the Division 7 Final earlier in the day as the new MHSAA Finals record. They also were the most points Powers has ever scored, beginning with its first season in 1970.
Lansing Catholic senior quarterback Cooper Rush was named Division 5-6 Player of the Year earlier this week by The Associated Press, and his name can be found all over the MHSAA record book. He added 291 yards and three touchdowns passing, and another score rushing to his impressive three-year varsity career totals.
But Saturday it was Powers junior quarterback Garrett Pougnet who played his name into history.
Rewind 12 weeks ago. Lansing Catholic (13-1) beat Powers 37-17. Pougnet struggled, completing just 6 of 20 passes and running for 67 yards and a score.
His performance in the Final was one of the many differences in the rematch. This time, Pougnet was 12 of 15 passing for 258 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran 14 times for 159 yards and two scores. His 413 yards of total offense were second in MHSAA Finals history and just 13 off the record.
Buckel listed the other differences this time around: Heading into the teams’ Sept. 2 meeting, Powers (10-4) was coming off a big loss to Saginaw Nouvel and two players were out with concussions. Two more defensive backs were still playing on the junior varsity. And, of course, he used a few different formations in the rematch.
“I just said, when we get the ball, we’re going to be very aggressive,” Buckel said. “We had a play we put in this week called Ford Field. It didn’t work either time. But we just wanted to be aggressive because we really thought we might need to score 50 points to beat them, because nobody has slowed them down.”
Rush finished this season with 4,005 passing yards, good for second in the MHSAA record book for one season, and 48 passing touchdowns, which tops that list. This time, senior Connor Bartlett was the main recipient with 11 catches for 189 yards and two scores. Senior Matt Macksood also caught a touchdown pass, and finished this season with 95 catches (second for one season) for 1,590 yards (fifth) and 22 touchdowns (tied for second).
“We moved the ball pretty good when we had it on offense. We just didn’t have it. I think they scored just about every time they had the ball,” Lansing Catholic coach Jim Ahern said. “The big difference in the games where we came back – we came back from 21 down against Portland, which was a very good football team – was we got some defensive stops. We just didn’t get them tonight.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)