Drive for Detroit: Week 3 Preview

September 12, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Every football regular season there’s one week when it’s tough to tell heading in which matchups might eventually have the greatest impact on the season as a whole. That tough-to-forecast week then tends to end up as one of the most exciting of the entire fall.

This might be that week for 2019. There are some definite must-watch games across the state for Week 3 – but in a lot of places, we’re eager to see who emerges as leagues continue to get rolling and summer weather hangs on just a little bit longer.   

Below are some pretty strong guesses at games you won’t want to miss from your part of Michigan. You’ll again be able to check out 20 games live on – including eight of the games listed below.

Games below are Friday unless noted. "Drive for Detroit" is sponsored by MI Student Aid.

Bay & Thumb

Flint Beecher (1-1) at Flint Hamady (2-0)

These neighbors have begun playing each other during the regular season again only recently, with Hamady winning both matchups as part of the Genesee Area Conference Blue schedule over the last two seasons. Hamady edged Beecher 24-18 in Week 3 last year on the way to winning the league title and both teams qualifying for the playoffs.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (2-0) at Saginaw Nouvel (2-0), Kalamazoo Central (1-1) at Flint Powers Catholic (2-0), Sandusky (1-1) at Ubly (2-0), Chesaning (2-0) at Montrose (2-0).

Greater Detroit

Rochester Adams (2-0) at Lake Orion (2-0)

The Dragons are one of the stories of the season so far, coming off back-to-back 0-2 starts the last two years with wins over highly-touted Lapeer and Southfield Arts & Technology to open this one. Lake Orion won those games by a combined score of 54-14, but faces another team that hasn’t gotten much attention – yet. Adams has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 91-31, with a 31-7 win last week over 2018 playoff qualifier Oxford.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-0) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2-0), Dearborn (1-1) at Belleville (2-0), Utica Eisenhower (1-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-0), Canton (1-1) at Plymouth (2-0).


Clare (2-0) at Harrison (2-0)

The Jack Pine Conference title continues to go through Clare, which shared the championship with Roscommon last season after outright wins in 2016 and 2017 and four more during the first half of the decade. The Pioneers have lost only three league games this decade – including to Harrison in 2010 and 2015. The Hornets earned their first two wins this season by a combined 70 points, but Clare has to be happy too with a combined 62-point margin during its start that included an impressive 35-0 shutout of Alma in Week 1.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Hartland (1-1) at Brighton (2-0), Fowlerville (2-0) at Williamston (2-0), Haslett (1-1) at Mason (2-0), Lake City (1-1) at Beal City (2-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Alcona (1-1) at Oscoda (2-0)

Alcona owns a 7-3 advantage since the teams began playing each other annually again in 2009, but Oscoda won 55-8 last season on the way to a North Star League title. The Owls offense found its stride last week against Coleman with a feat that is at least rare, if not unique – eight players combined to score 10 touchdowns, with Owen Franklin crossing the goal line three times and Andy Dault, Robert Host, Caleb Nagel, Gabe Kellstrom, Zach Ouillette, Gavin Lueck and Anthony Ward all scoring once (and quarterback Brayden Mallak making the MHSAA record book with five first-half TD passes).

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ludington (2-0) at Manistee (2-0), Grayling (1-1) at Kingsley (2-0), Tawas (1-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (1-1). SATURDAY Holt (2-0) at Traverse City West (1-1).

Southeast & Border

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (2-0) at Milan (2-0)

This pair frequently of late has decided the Huron League title – although Milan last season followed up a 26-21 win over the Falcons with later losses to Riverview and eventual conference champion Grosse Ile. But these two look like the possible teams to beat again. Milan opened league play last week beating Grosse Ile 35-13, and St. Mary has nice wins over 2018 Division 7 runner-up Madison Heights Madison and Carleton Airport to start this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Coldwater (2-0) at Jackson Lumen Christi (2-0), Hillsdale (2-0) at Erie-Mason (2-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-0) at Ida (1-1), Schoolcraft (2-0) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (1-1).

Southwest Corridor

Portage Northern (2-0) at Portage Central (1-1)

These neighbors shared the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West title last season, in part because of Central’s 21-20 win over Northern in Week 3. Northern earned a degree of revenge seven weeks later with a 35-7 win over Central in a Division 2 playoff opener and on the way to a District title. The Huskies got past a major league obstacle last week by edging Stevensville Lakeshore 14-6, but haven’t beaten Central during the regular season since 2012.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Centreville (2-0) at Cassopolis (2-0), St. Joseph (2-0) at Mattawan (1-1), Paw Paw (2-0) at Plainwell (1-1), Kalamazoo United (0-2) at Berrien Springs (2-0).

Upper Peninsula

Calumet (2-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (1-1)

A number of contenders facing off immediately this season has put a focus on the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper, and this week reigning champion Calumet will travel to take on 2018 runner-up Westwood. The Copper Kings won last year’s matchup 14-12 and then got past the Patriots 6-0 in a Division 6 playoff opener. But Westwood this time is trying to bounce back from last week’s 20-point loss to Iron Mountain, which has emerged as the possible Copper favorite this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Menominee (1-1) at Gladstone (2-0), Charlevoix (2-0) at St. Ignace (1-1), Ishpeming (2-0) at Norway (1-1), Marquette (0-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-0).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (2-0) at Grandville (2-0)

This matchup features a pair of teams that have been impressive so far and have high hopes of moving up in tough conferences. Forest Hills Central was 5-5 a year ago and third in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but has beaten 2018 playoff teams Jenison and Holland West Ottawa to start and held both to seven points apiece. Grandville tied for fourth in the O-K Red last season and finished 4-5 overall despite a one-point Week 3 win over the Rangers. The Bulldogs have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 106-44, with a 39-point win over playoff regular East Lansing last week.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY East Grand Rapids (1-1) at Muskegon (2-0), Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1-1) at Zeeland East (2-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (1-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0), Hamilton (2-0) at Byron Center (2-0).


Pickford (2-0) at Powers North Central (2-0), Saturday

If nothing else, this matchup might feature the two best offenses in 8-player football this season – and might be pitting two teams that will be playing for MHSAA championships at the Superior Dome in two months. Reigning 8-player Division 1 runner-up Pickford has put up 106 points, against 34, over its two wins over playoff regulars Crystal Falls Forest Park and Engadine. North Central’s combined tally is 128-18 against two more annual powers, reigning 8-player Division 2 champion Rapid River and Cedarville.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Pellston (2-0) at Au Gres-Sims (1-1), Bellevue (1-1) at Climax-Scotts (2-0), Battle Creek St. Philip (1-1) at Colon (2-0), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (1-1) at Deckerville (2-0).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning 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. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: A Newberry ball-carrier looks for an opening during last week’s 8-player 32-8 win over Stephenson. (Photo by Jeff Rochefort.)

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.)