Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

August 27, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Two months from now, the majority of successes and failures from the opening weekend of high school football won't have made or broken most of the more than 600 teams playing in the MHSAA this fall. 

But players, coaches and fans all over the state will still be talking about some of the tremendous matchups that once again marked the first nights of the season. 

To identify the best of those games, it was easy to simply point toward Detroit or Grand Rapids. But that would've been too easy; below, the most significant results from every corner of our expansive state.

Greater Detroit                                                         

Detroit Cass Tech 25, Birmingham Brother Rice 18

A late start was worth the wait for those who stuck around for the finale of the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State. Not that anyone was doubting Cass Tech’s defense, but it was especially impressive given the standouts the Technicians graduated after last season’s Division 1 championship run. The loss will no doubt pay off for the reigning Division 2 champion Warriors too – they’ve made the playoffs with at least three losses the last four seasons, and made it to at least the Semifinals in two of those four. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Southfield 21, Martin Luther King 20 (2 OT) – The Bluejays edged another Detroit PSL favorite in the second-best game of the Classic; the teams combined for 17 wins last season.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 17, Almont 14 – University of Michigan women’s soccer prospect Taylor Timko drilled a 35-yard field goal for the final lead with 2:48 to play.

Troy 24, Romeo 20 – Romeo has made the playoffs eight straight seasons, so Troy has additional reason to be glad after a losing season in 2011.

Carleton Airport 25, Adrian 24 – After finishing last season with a 28-21 playoff-opening loss to Adrian, Airport edged the Maples in a game that will no doubt have rankings implications.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 59, Zeeland West 58

The Dux hadn’t lost since the 2010 playoffs after going undefeated in winning Division 4 last season. But Forest Hills Central got a start on its drive for a third-straight playoff berth as these teams combined for 117 points – tied for 11th in the MHSAA record book for games in which the losing team scored at least 40. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 33, East Grand Rapids 14 – Interesting “did you know” ... the Cougars were 2-10 against East Grand Rapids going back to 1987 before this impressive win.

Fruitport 21, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 20 – The Trojans hung on for their fourth straight opening-night win over the Rockets.

Lowell 16, Rockford 6 – Lowell had a new quarterback and Rockford was missing its starter, but both will no doubt be putting up many more points as the fall goes on.

Muskegon 21, Orchard Lake St. Mary 14 – The Big Reds’ first four opponents include three of the best teams in the state regardless of division, but they got off to a quick start by downing the reigning Division 3 champion. 


DeWitt 38, Mount Pleasant 14

The Panthers stacked impressive offensive numbers against the reigning Division 3 runner-up Oilers, who had won 32 straight regular-season games. New quarterback Jordan Johnson, a sophomore, threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for two scores for DeWitt.

Also noted:

Farwell 61, Coleman 54 – This ranks 13th in the MHSAA record book for total combined points in games in which the losing team scored at least 40.

Mendon 27, Fowler 7 – This replay of last season’s Division 8 Final again went Mendon’s way, but was much closer throughout.

Holt 24, Hudsonville 21 – With its annual game against Rockford no doubt a little on their minds, Holt’s Rams went to Hudsonville and first avenged another 2011 loss.

Lansing Catholic 45, Pewamo-Westphalia 21 – The Cougars look to be the quicker of the two reigning MHSAA runners-up to rebuild, with plenty of points potential despite a new quarterback and a number of other first-year starters.

Bay and Thumb

Richmond 25, Marine City 24

Knocking off the reigning Division 4 runner-up is a great way for Richmond to get rolling after two straight losing seasons. The Blue Devils recovered an on-side kick to get the ball back for the go-ahead drive. Read more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.

Also noted:

Midland 29, Canton 28 (OT) – This big-time matchup might’ve gotten lost in the Detroit and Grand Rapids area slugfests, but Midland’s win was one of the most solid of the weekend as both teams stand to be among the best in Division 1 this fall.

Deckerville 32, Carsonville-Port Sanilac 12 – The Eagles might find themselves fans of the 8-player game quickly after beating the reigning MHSAA champion in their first game since switching from 11 players.

Linden 17, Fenton 15 – These two have been playoff  regulars, but this win could be especially key for Linden after it lost to Fenton by three in 2011 and just got into the postseason at 5-4.

Reese 47, Montrose 26 – Both of these teams could find themselves atop league standings when the regular season is done.

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming 34, Iron Mountain 0

Last season Iron Mountain won this matchup and finished a game ahead of Ishpeming in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference. But it appears the Hematites could be heavy favorites this fall after this dominating performance. Read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Rock Mid-Peninsula 26, Bellaire 22 – The Wolverines went 2-8 last season after three years without a team, making this win over an 8-player power all the more significant.

Norway 12, Niagara (WI)  Northern Elite 9 – Norway scored with less than a minute remaining to avenge last season’s one-point loss.

Marquette 34, Detroit Denby 12 – The home team prevailed, but the neater part was that this game was played at all between opponents with a nine-hour drive between them.

Iron River West Iron County 19, Pittsford 16 – Opponents from even farther apart than Marquette and Denby met somewhat in the middle Saturday in St. Ignace for a hard-fought contest.

Lower Up North

Kingsley 18, Traverse City St. Francis 0

This was one of the state’s biggest stunners for a few reasons: Kingsley lost to St. Francis 57-8 last season, with the Gladiators then going on to the Division 7 Semifinals; Kingsley then lost an all-state running back early Friday. But the defense didn’t break. Read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Boyne City 22, McBain 14 – Boyne City bounced back quickly from its 2011 losing season by beating a team that had a combined 19 wins over the last two.

Manistee 36, Ludington 34 – This made two seasons in a row that Manistee won by less than a field goal; in 2011 the score was 40-39.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 28, Atlanta 26 – The Cardinals had beaten Atlanta by an average of nearly 47 points over the last three seasons before having to survive this one.

Southwest and Border

Portage Central 36, Battle Creek Harper Creek 32

The Mustangs had a hard fall last season from 9-2 in 2010 to just 3-6, and were shut out by Harper Creek 24-0; Harper Creek went on to finish 12-1 and advance to the Division 3 Semifinals. But Portage Central again could be in at least its league title mix after coming back from a three-score deficit in this opener. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Dowagiac 21, Vicksburg 7 – Dowagiac had its best finish in 15 years last season, but lost to Vicksburg 6-3; the Chieftains hope this revenge win is the start of another special run.

Quincy 7, Bronson 6 – The Orioles had lost five straight to Bronson, and missed qualifying for the playoffs last season by just a win.

Lawton 21, Cassopolis Ross Beatty 19 – Lawton made it two straight on opening night over the Rangers; both made the playoffs last season.

Trophy Games


Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here's a list of those from Week 1.

  • The Sword: Bloomfield Hills Andover and Bloomfield Hills Lahser met on the gridiron for the last time in the regular season. The two schools will merge next year. The teams annually played for The Sword. Final: Lahser 70, Andover 7.
  • Brown Jug Games: Two such games were played last week, Mesick at Manton and Brooklyn Columbia Central at Napoleon. Finals: Manton 41, Mesick 6; Columbia Central 28, Napoleon 6.
  • Totem Pole: Battle Creek Central was at Kalamazoo Central on Friday. This is said to be the longest running rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains, with the two schools playing games since 1893. Final: Kalamazoo Central 20, Battle Creek Central 0.
  • Addison and Hudson met on Friday in Hudson, and the two teams have played for a trophy for a number of years sponsored by a local insurance company and a local automotive group. Final: Hudson 41, Addison 0
  • Cheese Log: A border battle between Ironwood and Hurley (WI) took place at Ironwood on Friday, and a cheese log has historically been on the line in this game. Final: Hurley 49, Ironwood 7.

PHOTO: East Lansing junior running back Kenny Washington took a hand-off and looked to turn the corner during Friday's 38-18 win at Haslett.

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for

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 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.)