Drive for Detroit: Week 12 in Review

November 17, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The third weekend of this season's MHSAA Football Playoffs was highlighted by the continuation of one of the state's most impressive winning streaks – and the finishes of two others of note.

Ithaca emerged from a fourth-quarter deficit against Madison Heights Madison to win another Division 6 Regional title and push its winning streak to 68 games, the longest 11-player streak in the country. 

But there will be a new Division 2 champion; reigning three-time title-winner Birmingham Brother Rice fell to Catholic League rival Warren DeLaSalle. And for the first time in its short MHSAA history, the 8-player tournament will have a champion not from Michigan's thumb – 2013 champion Peck and 2012 winner Deckerville both were eliminated in Semifinals. 

We touch briefly below on both 8-player games and all 32 11-player Regional Finals, with links to additional coverage of the games of particular note. 


Cedarville 36, Deckerville 20

Cedarville eliminated a former champion to earn an opportunity to win its first title. The Trojans (11-1) put up 36 points despite playing through a blizzard and facing powerful Deckerville (9-3), which finished this fall with its only losses against the other teams in the Semifinals – Cedarville, Lawrence and Peck. Click for more from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.

Lawrence 66, Peck 40

This was a reversal of last season’s Semifinal between these teams, and Lawrence (12-0) hopes to now finish similarly as Peck when it won last season's championship. The Tigers again rode the many talents of quarterback Derek Gribler, who ran for 280 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 271 yards and six scores in one of the most impressive performances in the MHSAA’s young 8-player history. Peck finished 11-1 and had beaten Lawrence 73-34 in last season’s Semifinal before taking down Rapid River for the championship. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.


Saline 42, Canton 35

Saline (11-1) advanced to the Semifinals for the first time, in the process setting a team record for wins; in fact, the Hornets’ two best finishes have come during the last three years. But it wasn’t without a wild finish. Canton ran for nearly 400 yards, and Saline quarterback Josh Jackson repeatedly matched – with the Hornets’ defense then coming up big at the end. The Chiefs (9-3) did post their best record since 2010. Click for more from

Other Regional Finals:

East Kentwood 31, Hudsonville 14 – The Falcons (11-1) made their first Semifinal since 2002 by winning a rematch against surging Hudsonville (7-5) after claiming the first meeting 35-28.

Clarkston 40, Walled Lake Central 22 – The reigning champion Wolves (12-0) ended the longest run for Walled Lake Central (9-3) since 2011.

Detroit Cass Tech 48, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 35 – Wow; Cass Tech running back Mike Weber ran for 404 yards and five touchdowns as the Technicians (12-0) won their 12th game for the fourth season in five and ended the longest run for Chippewa Valley (8-4) since 2004. 


Warren DeLaSalle 26, Birmingham Brother Rice 21

As well as DeLaSalle (9-3) has played over the last month, this still has to count as a stunner – although DeLaSalle has been on the verge of a such a power move all season. DeLaSalle’s three losses came during one disappointing run – by seven to Brother Rice in Week 4, four to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Week 5 and then to Dearborn Fordson by four in Week 6. Those opponents are a combined 31-4 with St. Mary’s still alive in Division 3. This win earned the Pilots their fourth Semifinal berth over the last nine years – and ended a four-year Brother Rice run of 47-7. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon Mona 39, Battle Creek Lakeview 0 – The offensively-powerful Sailors (11-1) put up their best defensive performance by handing Lakeview (9-2) its first shutout since 2012.

Farmington Hills Harrison 23, Flushing 10 – The Raiders (9-3) ended with their best record since 1997, but Harrison (10-2) moved on to its four Semifinal over the last decade.

Southfield 35, Wyandotte Roosevelt 7 – The Bluejays (9-3) have come back off a Week 9 loss to make the Semifinals for the first time since 2008; Roosevelt (9-3) can still celebrate extending its District title string to four straight.


Zeeland West 30, Lowell 27

The reigning Division 3 champion Dux (12-0) survived a second-straight close call after defeating Stevensville Lakeshore by only two in the District Final. Dakota Guerink and Nick Jasch both ran for two touchdowns and West’s defense made a late stop to ice the win. Lowell’s Max Dean capped a solid season with four more touchdown runs as the Red Arrows (10-2) finished with double-figure wins for the eighth time in nine seasons and 12th in 15 years. Click for more from the Holland Sentinel.

Other Regional Finals:

Muskegon 42, Petoskey 7 – The Big Reds (11-1) have scored 128 points in three playoff games in advance of facing Zeeland West this week; Petoskey (9-3) finished four wins better than 2013 and made a Regional Final for the first time since 1998.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 49, Mason 10 – The Eaglets (10-2) have now doubled last season’s win total and made their sixth Semifinal in eight seasons; Mason (8-4) made its first Regional Final since 1995 despite a 1-3 start this fall.

New Boston Huron 38, Redford Thurston 29 – Huron’s best season ever continues as the Chiefs (11-1) won their fifth straight by at least 10 points while Thurston can still celebrate a District title despite also opening this fall 1-3.


Detroit Country Day 21, Chelsea 0

As an at-large qualifier, Country Day (8-4) has cruised through the playoffs somewhat under the radar. But keep in mind that its losses this fall were to three reigning MHSAA champions – Brother Rice, Zeeland West and Division 8 Muskegon Catholic Central – and reigning Division 7 runner-up Detroit Loyola. The Yellowjackets have been nothing if not steady during the playoffs, outscoring their opponents by a combined 77-6 – with Chelsea (9-3) suffering its only loss of more than seven points this fall but after bouncing back from 2-7 a year ago. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Grand Rapids South Christian 49, Whitehall 14 – The Sailors (10-2) made it 10 straight and nine straight by double figures in advancing to the Semifinals for the third straight season; Whitehall finished 9-3 after going 1-8 only a year ago.

Edwardsburg 42, Eaton Rapids 8 – The Eddies are back in the Semifinals for the first time since 2010 with their third game in four weeks holding an opponent under 10 points; Eaton Rapids finished its second playoff season 8-4, a win better than its first playoff season a year ago.

Lansing Sexton 35, Richmond 7 – The Big Reds (12-0) booked their return to the Semifinals by locking down an offense averaging 40 points per game for Richmond (10-2) entering the weekend.


Menominee 43, Freeland 35

Menominee’s offense has been typical of the Maroons (12-0) – they’re 12 points from scoring 600 for the second straight year and have averaged more than 40 per game three of the last four seasons. But a defensive stand late finally stopped Freeland (10-2) in this back-and-forth battle that ended with Menominee heading to the Semifinals for the third straight season – to face Grand Rapids West Catholic, last year’s opponent in the Division 5 Final. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.

Other Regional Finals:

Grand Rapids West Catholic 56, Reed City 28 – Although Reed City (9-3) became only the second team to score this many points on the Falcons, West Catholic (12-0) broke 50 for the first time since Week 2.

Lansing Catholic 49, Flint Powers Catholic 21 – The Cougars (12-0) have arrived in the Semifinals for the second time in four seasons by outscoring their playoff opponents 180-35, although Powers (8-4) put up the most points among the three teams eliminated.

Almont 35, River Rouge 12 – Make this officially the best season in Almont history at 12-0 and the Raiders’ defense arguably the most impressive in the state (still giving up only 5.7 points per game); River Rouge (10-2) hadn’t lost since Week 2 and finished with double-figure wins for the second time in three seasons. 


Ithaca 41, Madison Heights Madison 27

With a quarter to play, Ithaca’s winning streak was in danger for one of the few times since it began opening night of 2010. The Yellowjackets (12-0) trailed 27-19, an unfamiliar spot for a team that rarely has had to come back during the last five seasons. But they scored 22 unanswered points over the final seven minutes to give a signature win to a current group of younger players that didn’t play a large role in Ithaca’s runs of the last four seasons. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Other Regional Finals:

Boyne City 28, Leroy Pine River 16 – The Ramblers (12-0) are back in the Semifinals for the first time since 2001 after ending the longest playoff run ever for Pine River (8-4).

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 41, Watervliet 35 – The Mustangs (11-1) have built steadily to this first Regional title over their seven seasons of football; Watervliet’s end was heart-breaking as it was the second time in four seasons the Panthers (10-2) fell in a Regional by a touchdown.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 27, Jackson Lumen Christi 26 – Only the possibility of Ithaca’s winning streak ending kept this from being the main game in Division 6, as St. Mary (11-1) returned to the Semifinal by handing Lumen Christi (11-1) its lone loss despite more than 400 yards rushing by Khari Willis. 


Detroit Loyola 60, New Lothrop 26

Loyola (12-0) pulled one victory closer to returning to Ford Field for the third straight season by winning big in this matchup of undefeated teams. Marvin Campbell, the team’s top running back during its 2013 run as well, had five touchdowns as Loyola got ahead early and never trailed. It was the third time in four seasons New Lothrop (11-1) had reached the Regional Final; the Hornets haven’t lost a regular season game since 2009. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Other Regional Finals:

Ishpeming 22, Traverse City St. Francis 13 – The two-time reigning champion Hematites (11-0) stood strong against a challenge in their first game this season decided by fewer than 10 points; St. Francis finished its best since 2011 at 11-2.

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 44, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 8 – The Cardinals are back in the Semifinals for the first time since winning the Class D title in 1986; Laker’s lone loss this season ended their best run since 2002 at 11-1.

Pewamo-Westphalia 53, Bridgman 12 – The Pirates (10-2) have become regulars at this stage of the playoffs with four straight Regional Final appearances and three titles during that time; Bridgman ended its longest playoff run at 8-3 and with a team record for wins. 


Munising 43, Crystal Falls Forest Park 14

The road downstate in Division 8 generally goes through Crystal Falls Forest Park – and Munising traveled it well this weekend, figuratively speaking. This Regional Final was moved to the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University, and the Mustangs (10-1) left with their second Regional title and first since 1980. Forest Park (9-1) had made Semifinals in eight of the previous 10 seasons before suffering this first in-state loss this fall – the Trojans’ other defeat was by four to Hurley of Wisconsin. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Other Regionals Finals:

Beal City 28, Baldwin 0 – The Aggies (10-2) returned to the Semifinals for the third straight year by shutting down an offense for Baldwin (10-2) averaging 47 points per game heading into the weekend.

Muskegon Catholic Central 48, Mendon 7 – The Crusaders (12-0) again made quick work of a former MHSAA champion, with Mendon (10-2) joining Fowler and Fulton among those that have fallen to MCC this postseason.

Harbor Beach 21, Morenci 7 – Morenci (10-2) had been strong on defense and held Harbor Beach (12-0) to half its 46-ppg average, but also was held to a season low.

PHOTO: Zeeland West advanced past Lowell 30-27 in a snowy Division 3 Regional Final. (Click to see more from

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.)