Drive for Detroit: Week 2 Preview

August 30, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The break was short for many teams heading into Week 2 of this football season.

While last week’s openers were mostly split between Thursday and Friday, nearly all of Michigan’s teams will play this week’s games tonight in advance of the Labor Day holiday and start of school for many next Tuesday.

Below is our weekly look – powered by MI Student Aid – at some of the games to see no matter your neighborhood (relatively and regionally speaking) and includes games that will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Remember, check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule plus scores all three nights as they games are completed. A number of games also will be broadcast again this weekend, live, on

Bay & Thumb

Almont (1-0) at Algonac (0-1), Thursday

After a couple of seasons at or near the top of Port Huron-area football, Algonac opened last week with a 42-6 loss to Marine City – its first non-Richmond regular-season defeat since 2014. Up next is Blue Water Area Conference rival Almont, no doubt aching to win big as well after taking four losses (two in the playoffs) from the Muskrats over the last two seasons. The Raiders are coming off a big win over 2016 playoff team Grosse Ile.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Freeland (1-0) at Chesaning (1-0), Saginaw Heritage (1-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (1-0), Beaverton (1-0) at Harbor Beach (1-0), Lake Fenton (0-1) at Montrose (1-0).

Greater Detroit

Southfield Arts & Technology (0-1) at Clarkston (1-0), Friday

Southfield A&T came out on the losing end of arguably the most exciting game of opening weekend. But if its 56-54 triple-overtime defeat to powerful Davison told us anything, it’s that last year’s 8-4 finish could be just a start for the second-year program built from the former Southfield and Southfield-Lathrup. The Warriors beat Clarkston 24-18 a year ago, actually, but the Wolves appear in form already as well coming off a 42-7 win over Lapeer (27-5 over the last three seasons with two of those losses to Clarkston).

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Romeo (1-0) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0), FRIDAY Toledo Whitmer, Ohio (1-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (1-0), East Kentwood (1-0) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (0-1), Macomb Dakota (1-0) at Utica Eisenhower (1-0).


Grand Ledge (1-0) at DeWitt (0-1), Thursday

The is the second year in a row the Lansing area’s most successful programs of the last decade have matched up (and the series will continue with DeWitt moving into the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue with Grand Ledge next fall). The Comets won last year’s meeting 28-21. Senior-dominated Grand Ledge impressed last week with a 41-14 win over Hudsonville, but a DeWitt team that put a number of new starters on the field last week also impressed coming back to nearly catch Grand Rapids Christian, on the road, before falling 38-30.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Dearborn Divine Child (1-0) at East Lansing (1-0), Portland (1-0) at Lansing Sexton (1-0), Fulton (1-0) at Laingsburg (0-1), FRIDAY Beal City (1-0) at Clare (0-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Muskegon Catholic Central (0-0) at Frankfort (1-0), Friday

The anticipation for this one has been boiling over. Muskegon Catholic Central handed Frankfort its first and only loss last season, 35-0 in a Division 8 Regional Final at MCC on the way to winning a fourth straight MHSAA championship. The Panthers also got within 22-12 of MCC in a 2015 Regional Final, so there’s a nice build-up of history behind this meeting of small-school contenders. The Crusaders couldn’t lock down a Week 1 game this fall, so this is their season opener and the sophomore debut for heavily-followed quarterback Cameron Martinez. Frankfort did have a game in Week 1 and put up 70 points – its most in a game since 2004 – to down Manton by 30.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY St. Johns (0-1) at Cadillac (1-0), FRIDAY Newberry (1-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (1-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (1-0), Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (0-1).

Southeast & Border

Pinckney (1-0) at Chelsea (1-0), Friday

Chelsea is 32-6 over its last three seasons and won all of its Southeastern Conference White games last season by at least 22 points. The Bulldogs will welcome Pinckney to the league Friday after the Pirates went 8-3 last season (their most wins since 1989) before coming over from the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West. Pinckney also had a coaching change in the offseason with defensive coordinator Rod Beaton getting a promotion, and his expertise will be especially handy this week. Chelsea 27 points last week on a Milan defense that gave up only 16 per game in 2016.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY New Haven (1-0) at Ida (1-0), Homer (1-0) at Concord (0-1), Petersburg-Summerfield (1-0) at Pittsford (1-0), FRIDAY Detroit Mumford (1-0) at Saline (0-1).

Southwest Corridor

Schoolcraft (1-0) at Berrien Springs (1-0), Thursday

Berrien Springs has been right on the verge of a big season over the last few, with three straight playoff appearances and a 17-5 record since the start of 2015. The Shamrocks looked ready to make this the year opening with a 53-0 win over Buchanan last week. But giving Schoolcraft its first regular season loss since 2014 would really make a statement. The Eagles are 20-2 going back to the start of 2015 and downed Fennville 41-0 to start this year’s campaign. If Schoolcraft comes through this one on top too, Berrien Springs still will have a few more opportunities to make noise – see Week 4 against Benton Harbor and Week 9 against Muskegon Oakridge.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Coldwater (1-0) at Marshall (1-0), Battle Creek Central (0-1) at Portage Central (1-0), Paw Paw (1-0) at Sturgis (1-0), FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0) at Benton Harbor (0-1).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming (1-0) at Norway (1-0), Friday

The Hematites seem to be getting most of the tough ones out of the way early as they work back from last year’s 3-5 finish. Ishpeming started this fall by avenging a 2016 loss to Iron Mountain 34-7, and now comes Norway, which shut out the Hematites 14-0 last year. The slight difference this time is these teams are no longer in the same league, literally; the Knights left the Mid-Peninsula Conference for the Mid-Eastern Conference this season. They opened with a 34-7 nonleague win over Niagara (Wis.) after ending last fall as a District champ.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Iron Mountain (0-1) at Gwinn (0-1), Calumet (1-0) at Negaunee (0-1), FRIDAY Traverse City Central (1-0) at Marquette (0-1), SATURDAY Munising (0-1) at St. Ignace (0-1).

West Michigan

Lowell (1-0) at Rockford (1-0), Friday

One of the best scheduling moves in the state in 2016 was the re-introduction of this matchup between two of the elite programs in all of the Grand Rapids area and statewide. Lowell won that first matchup since the end of a two-year series in 2011-12, 21-10, but it also was Rockford’s opener as it had to miss its Week 1 game last fall with a team-wide sickness. This time both teams have a win out of the way, and impressive ones on both sides. The Rams shut out Saline 14-0 to start, while the Red Arrows downed Warren DeLaSalle 36-6.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) at Caledonia (1-0), Detroit Loyola (0-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-0), Warren DeLaSalle (0-1) at Grandville (1-0), FRIDAY Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0) at Zeeland West (1-0).


Crystal Falls Forest Park (0-1) at Powers North Central (1-0), Friday

At least the faces will look mostly different from those who more or less decided which was the best team in the Upper Peninsula (and arguably statewide) last season. Reigning two-time MHSAA champion North Central graduated the majority of its stars from the last two seasons including quarterback Jason Whitens, and Forest Park’s record-setting back Dan Nocerini is now playing at Michigan Tech. After losing only to North Central (twice) last season, the Trojans opened last week with a 38-36 defeat to Rapid River. But some of the same success could be brewing again for the Jets, who made it 27 straight victories with a 66-0 shutdown of Felch North Dickinson.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Lawrence (1-0) at Deckerville (1-0), Mayville (1-0) at Morrice (1-0), North Adams-Jerome (1-0) at Battle Creek St. Philip (1-0), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (0-1) at Suttons Bay (1-0).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: East Kentwood (with red trim) faces Orchard Lake St. Mary's this week after opening with a win against Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse. (Photo by John Johnson). 

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.)