Drive for Detroit: Week 1 in Review

September 3, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Let’s start our first weekly review of MHSAA football action with some of the results you won’t see among our list of most significant from opening weekend:

Kent City’s first opening night win over Ravenna in 15 tries and Beal City’s incredible 61-0 win over rival Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. Kalamazoo Central’s 14-13 win over neighbor Loy Norrix and Kinde-North Huron’s 28-14 win over reigning MHSAA 8-player champion Deckerville.

All are big-time results, no doubt. But below I’ve tried to tell you about five more from each region of our state, organized by the winner in each game, that might have bigger impacts as we move immediately forward with most leagues schedules kicking off in three days. 

West Michigan

Zeeland West 44, Detroit Country Day 28

Country Day came into this season with plenty of deserved hype returning most of its star power from last season’s run to the MHSAA Division 4 Final. But Zeeland West has plenty of championship experience too, and its tough running proved too much for the Yellowjackets. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

East Grand Rapids 24, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 7 – The Pioneers began making up for last season’s first playoff miss since 2000 with a solid win over another perennial power.

Grand Rapids Christian 41, Grand Rapids South Christian 13 – New faces abound, but the reigning Division 3 champion won big over last season’s Division 4 title winner.

Muskegon Oakridge 31, Grand Rapids West Catholic 25 – The Eagles are soaring high to start this fall after finishing 2012 with a 13-6 District Final loss to West Catholic.

Rockford 23, Utica Eisenhower 6 – Given these teams’ histories, no one would be stunned if they met again in 13 weeks in the MHSAA Division 1 Final. 

Greater Detroit

Oak Park 25, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 20

Oak Park entered its opener with the opportunity to show last season’s historic run wasn’t over with 2012’s final horn. Four touchdowns during the second half against the reigning MHSAA Division 3 runner-up proved the Knights will be talked about plenty again in 2013. Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted: 

Detroit Cass Tech 18, Southfield 14 – Two-time reigning Division 1 champion Cass Tech and quarterback Jayru Campbell edged an improved Bluejays team to start 1-0.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 27, Dearborn 20 (2 OT) – Chippewa Valley also beat Dearborn on opening night last season on the way to its first  playoff berth in three seasons; this one could be prove just as important.

Rochester Adams 12, Clarkston 7 – Coming off its first playoff miss since 1996, Adams won for the first time in its last four tries against one of the biggest and best programs in the state.

Lake Orion 35, Oxford 30 – If this was an indication, these two should again be contenders in their respective divisions of the Oakland Activities Association. Lake Orion has held the Double "O" Pigskin Trophy three of four seasons since the series was restarted in 2010; the teams formerly played for the prize from 1962-83. 

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Harper Creek 27, Mattawan 7

Both of these teams should be contenders in their respective divisions of the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference, and both will run their way to success again this fall. It will be interesting to see in eight weeks just how similar their paths finish after a game that would’ve been much closer if not for some untimely Mattawan turnovers. Click to read more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted: 

Battle Creek Central 15, Benton Harbor 0 – The Bearcats ended their 18-game winless streak with their first shutout since 2007.

Portage Central 55, Sturgis 0 – Sturgis has a Division 1 college prospect in quarterback Chance Stewart, which made this arguably the most impressive defensive performance statewide.

Watervliet 43, Gobles 14 – Simply put, this was a solid nonleague matchup between teams that each won eight games last season. Watervliet has the head start on repeating that feat.

Edwardsburg 34, Otsego 7 – Different teams, same story as above as both are playoff regulars that should again be in the mix by the end of the season. 

Bay and Thumb

Saginaw Swan Valley 27, Saginaw Nouvel 20

Both might end this season at Ford Field after Swan Valley missed by one win a year ago and Nouvel missed by two after winning Division 7 in 2011. But as for the best in Saginaw, it looks like the Vikings at this point after running back Alex Grace ran for more than 200 yards in one of the state’s most intriguing openers. Click to read more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

New Lothrop 28, Traverse City St. Francis 7 – The Hornets traveled north for a tough opener and came back with plenty of momentum for the Genesee Area Conference Blue schedule.

Hemlock 19, Frankenmuth 12 – Hemlock, the 2012 Tri-Valley Conference Central champion, held on to beat the 2012 TVC East winner.

Montrose 38, Reese 8 – This looked to be a close game between 10-win teams from a year ago, but Montrose instead avenged last season’s 21-point loss to the Rockets in a bigger way.

Saginaw Arthur Hill 24, Goodrich 14 – Arthur Hill has struggled since it last playoff berth in 2008, but appears on the rebound with this reversal of a 41-6 loss to Goodrich in 2012. 


Ithaca 57, Williamston 13

This wasn’t really close, but was significant nonetheless. The win was Ithaca’s 43rd straight, tying the record for longest victory streak in MHSAA history in which all games were won during the playoff era. This week, the Yellowjackets face rival St. Charles with a chance to move up the list again. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted: 

Jackson Northwest 35, Hillsdale 20 – Only a record performance by Ithaca could trump what might be Northwest’s best football win since the mid-2000s. Hillsdale is coming off an 11-win season, and Northwest has won one game in each of the last three years.

Lansing Sexton 21, Chelsea 14 – Beating a team with 14 straight playoff berths will no doubt help the Big Reds return to the postseason after missing last season.

Pewamo-Westphalia 20, Lansing Catholic 7 – This reversed a 24-point loss to the Cougars last season as the Pirates began their quest for a third straight MHSAA Semifinals run.

Eaton Rapids 44, Leslie 0 – New Greyhounds coach Mike Smith, most known from his success at Holt, started his Eaton Rapids rebuilding effort with the team’s biggest win since 1996. 

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee 36, Manistique 30

Negaunee had to be on its game for a tough Mid-Peninsula Conference opener against another playoff team from 2012. But the Miners held on through a late Manistique run and scored last to open league play and the season 1-0. Big plays were key, as Negaunee scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and 66-yard run. The Miners continued claim of the Oscar Wassberg Trophy, named for the former coach of both teams. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Cedarville 42, Posen 40 – The Trojans didn’t feel much of a challenge until Week 8 last season, but survived this one to kick off its 8-player season.

Ishpeming 36, Iron Mountain 0 – The reigning MHSAA Division 7 champion kept rolling with a win over another playoff team from last season.

Bessemer 28, Hancock 26 (OT) – The last three games between these two have been decided by a touchdown or less, but all in favor of the Bessemer-led co-op.

Marquette 31, Traverse City Central 23 – Marquette should get a solid boost at playoff selection time from this win as it goes for a fourth straight postseason berth. 

Lower Up North

Reed City 39, Big Rapids 26

As stated earlier last week, this game eventually decided last season’s Central State Activities Association title in favor of Reed City. This was the fourth straight opening-night win for the Coyotes over rival Big Rapids. This game is played for the Pioneer Trophy. Click to read more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted: 

Alpena 15, Escanaba 7 – Alpena has won only one game in each of the last two seasons and was outscored by Escanaba by a combined 72-0 over 2011 and 2012.

Hillman 55, Gaylord St. Mary 54 – These teams combined for only 41 points when they met to open 2012. This time, they qualified for the MHSAA record book.  

Charlevoix 20, St. Ignace 0 – Coming off one win in 2012, and against a team that was 24-2 combined over the last two seasons, Charlevoix pulled off one of the biggest upsets statewide.

Maple City Glen Lake 27, Boyne City 13 – Glen Lake continued rolling off last season’s best finish in more than a decade by beating again the team it defeated to open the 2012 playoffs.

Trophy Games

Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games played across the state. A few were mentioned above, with these the rest we knew about heading into the weekend. 

  • Bull Bowl – This is one of our newest trophies, established in 2011 for the opener between Fremont and Sparta. The Spartans gained a 2-1 advantage in the series last week. Final: Sparta 6, Fremont 0.
  • Battle of 127 Trophy – Hudson and Addison have met for a number of years for this trophy sponsored by a local insurance company and local automotive group. Final: Hudson 46, Addison 0.
  • Battle for The Paddle – Neighbors Sanford Meridian and Bullock Creek have met on opening night for the last dozen seasons. Bullock Creek owns a 7-5 advantage during that time. Final: Meridian 26, Bullock Creek 22.
  • State Bank Traveling Trophy – Linden and Fenton have played for this prize dating to 1976, including on opening night the last two seasons. Final: Fenton 39, Linden 27.
  • Little Brown Jug – Two games were played for these last week: Napoleon and Brooklyn Columbia Central continuing a series begun in 1967, and Manton and Mesick. Finals: Manton 29, Mesick 0; Columbia Central 26, Napoleon 18.
  • Border Battle Cheese Trophy – Hurley (Wis.) made it eight straight opening-night wins over rival Ironwood. Final: Hurley 47, Ironwood 7. 

PHOTO: Grand Ledge made this stop, but fell a few short in a 16-14 opening-night loss at home against East Kentwood. 

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.)