Drive for Detroit: Week 3 in Review

September 15, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Yes, it's only mid-September. We've got a long way to go in this MHSAA football season.  

But there were a number of games played during Week 3 that should impact significantly how league races unfold through the end of the October. 

A few you won't read about below but are worth including: Mason County Central ended a seven-game losing streak to Shelby with a 12-6 win and could make some noise in the West Michigan D. Newaygo beat annual favorite Reed City, 14-6, for the first time as a member of the Central State Activities Association and could now be the favorite in the new Gold division. 

And those are just scratches on the surface; read on for more that should provide lasting impact this fall. 

West Michigan

Lowell 30, East Grand Rapids 25

Make no mistake – East Grand Rapids (2-1) is back after two non-playoff seasons, and despite falling in this heartbreaker Friday. The Red Arrows (3-0) went ahead for good during the final minutes on Max Dean’s fourth touchdown of the night. Life doesn’t get easier for either team – East Grand Rapids faces Muskegon next and both play in the highly-competitive O-K White. But it’s tough to imagine a better way to kick off the league schedule. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Rockford 10, Muskegon Mona Shores 7 – In two years, Mona Shores (2-1) has gone from sub-.500 to first-time playoff qualifier and now competitor with an elite program in Rockford (3-0).

Grand Rapids South Christian 33, Hudsonville Unity Christian 30 (OT) – The Sailors (1-2) have had a tough start against tough competition, but finally broke through against the improved Crusaders (2-1).

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 31, Caledonia 19 – After also opening with two tough losses, Forest Hills Central (1-2) got in the win column against a Caledonia (2-1) team that had been one of the state’s most impressive early.

Greenville 36, Comstock Park 16 – Greenville (2-1) is off to its best start since 2011, impressive all the more after beating Comstock Park (1-2), winners of 22 of its last 24 regular-season games.

Southwest and Border

Watervliet 18, Mendon 13

Even after winning 10 games two of the last three seasons, Watervliet probably was a passing thought for most in this game given Mendon’s 35-game regular-season winning streak. In fact, the Hornets hadn’t lost a regular-season game to an in-state opponent since 2006 – that 2010 loss was to Edgerton, Ohio. Mendon (2-1) was undermanned a bit – eight seniors did not play – but that shouldn’t take away from a huge victory for the Panthers (2-1). Click to read more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.  

Also noted:

Stevensville Lakeshore 20, Portage Central 17 – Lakeshore (3-0) handed Portage Central (1-1) its first regular-season loss since Week 8 of 2012.

St. Joseph 17, Portage Northern 7 – Knocking off solid Portage Northern (2-1) makes the Bears (3-0) early favorites with Lakeshore in the always-tough Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West.

Vicksburg 16, Edwardsburg 14 – The Bulldogs (3-0), coming off two straight sub-.500 seasons, beat Edwardsburg (2-1) after losing by a combined score of 81-27 over the last two meetings.

Coldwater 35, Battle Creek Pennfield 6 – The Cardinals (3-0) made the playoffs last season, for the first time ever, with an at-large bid at 5-4. But they are halfway to automatic qualification after dealing perennial playoff team Pennfield (0-3) another disappointment. 

Bay and Thumb

Montrose 27, Lake Fenton 12

The Rams (3-0) ran their Genesee Area Conference Red winning streak to 22 and set back again Lake Fenton (1-2), league runner-up to Montrose the last two seasons. Lake Fenton stood within two points of the lead in the third quarter before the Rams pulled away. The last league team to beat Montrose was Flint Beecher, this season’s Week 8 opponent. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Flint Carman-Ainsworth 31, Davison 8 – The Cavaliers (2-1) came back from their Week 2 one-point heart-breaking loss to Mount Pleasant by beating former league rival Davison (1-2) for the fifth straight time.

Flint Southwestern 58, Saginaw 8 – The Knights (2-1) equaled their win total of the last three seasons and can equal their most since 2008 with another victory; Saginaw fell to 0-3.

Marlette 51, Reese 34 – Marlette’s Connor Thomas, a member of the MHSAA Student Advisory Council, ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass as the Raiders moved to 2-1 and Reese fell to 1-2.

St. Clair 32, Sterling Heights 31 – Sterling Heights (0-3) won only once in 2013, but nearly pulled off its best victory in at least a few years as the Saints (2-1) had to come back in the fourth quarter riding the strength of four rushing touchdowns from Larry Ochadleus.

Lower Up North

Traverse City Central 20, Traverse City West 13

Central (3-0) got some revenge after last season’s three-point overtime loss that played a part in the Trojans missing the playoffs. West (1-2) may still own a 12-6 advantage in their series, but Central definitely has the upper hand in this season’s Big North Conference race although it’s only one game old for both. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted: 

Cadillac 27, Petoskey 7 – Cadillac (3-0) kicked off the Big North Conference season by handing a first loss to Petoskey (2-1) and keeping up a defensive effort allowing only nine points per game.

Maple City Glen Lake 15, Grayling 8 – The Lakers (2-0) have tough opponents lined up for at least the next five weeks but should contend, while Grayling (1-2) now is forced to bounce back to extend its five-season playoff streak.

Lincoln Alcona 22, Rogers City 6 – Alcona (3-0) quietly has won 15 straight regular-season games, with this one impressive as Rogers City (2-1) appears in the midst of turning things around after four straight sub.-500 finishes.

Cheboygan 13, Escanaba 12 – The Chiefs (1-2) were off to a rough start after two straight playoff seasons, but took a first step toward extending the streak while dropping Escanaba to 1-2. 

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone 24, Negaunee 19

Although Gladstone started with two wins this fall after going 0-9 two of the last three seasons, it was fair to assume the Braves’ success would come to a quick end with Negaunee followed by the Great Northern U.P. Conference schedule. It’s time to rethink that assumption. Not only is Gladstone 3-0 for the first time since 2009, but got there by beating a Miners team that also started 2-0 and won 10 games each of the last two seasons. Click to read more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Hurley, Wis. 18, Crystal Falls Forest Park 14 – Hurley (4-0) is one of the top-ranked small schools in Wisconsin, and beating Forest Park (2-1) no doubt will help that cause in addition to giving Hurley a huge advantage in the Great Western Conference race.

Ishpeming Westwood 48, Rudyard 0 – This wouldn’t usually register except that Westwood (3-0) won two games total in 2013 and three in 2012; Rudyard (0-3) is hoping for a quick turnaround.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 33, L’Anse 20 – The Lakes (2-1) avenged last season’s 52-34 playoff-opener loss to the Hornets (1-2).

Menominee 37, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 23 – We love when our best from the Upper Peninsula get together with tough teams from downstate, and this was a great way for the Maroons (3-0) to prepare for their Great Northern U.P. Conference schedule while giving Notre Dame Prep (1-2) another competitive nonleague game.


Lansing Sexton 32, Grand Ledge 21

Although the league opener, this could end up one of the most important games in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue this season if not the championship decider. Sexton (3-0) has yet to play a home game this season but has continued to build an impressive resume adding the Comets to Detroit East English and Monroe among those defeated so far. Grand Ledge (1-2) made a run at the lead during the second half but couldn’t climb back after Sexton went up three scores during the second quarter. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Okemos 23, Lansing Everett 13 – The Chieftains (2-1) are looking like contenders in the CAAC Blue as well although a difficult early slate gets tougher with Grand Ledge and Sexton next; Everett (1-2) will attempt to bounce back against Holt.

Jackson Lumen Christi 34, Battle Creek Harper Creek 14 – These two have looked like favorites in the first-year Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, although Lumen Christi (3-0) remains undefeated and Harper Creek (1-2) must bounce back from a tough start.  

St. Johns 28, Haslett 13 – The Redwings (3-0) are one of the surprises in the CAAC Red and best teams from the Lansing area, while Haslett (1-2) is working to stay in contention in the competitive league.  

Ithaca 33, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 14 – This was a little more of a scare than Ithaca (3-0) has had in a while, as the Yellowjackets trailed MLS (2-1) by a point at halftime.

Greater Detroit

Brownstown Woodhaven 42, Allen Park 35 (OT)

Woodhaven (3-0) came out ahead in another close Downriver League battle, this time in overtime after beating Southgate Anderson by two in Week 2. The Warriors need only one more win to equal last season’s finish and already have avenged three of those 2013 losses. Always-solid Allen Park is still there despite falling to 2-1. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Macomb Dakota 35, Warren Mott 7 – Dakota (2-1) is laying a strong early claim on the Macomb Area Red title, with Mott (2-1) previously expected to be a contender but now facing an uphill battle. 

Sterling Heights Stevenson 21, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 7 – This changes up the MAC Red race as well with Chippewa Valley (1-2) formerly a contender and Stevenson (2-1) now an intriguing possibility despite a Week 2 loss to Utica Eisenhower.

Oak Park 27, Farmington Hills Harrison 0 – The right to challenge Southfield in the Oakland Activities Association White belongs firmly to Oak Park (2-1), which hasn’t given up a point since Week 1 and dropped Harrison to 2-1 as well.  

Clinton 54, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 30 – Whiteford (2-1) might’ve been the biggest obstacle as Clinton (3-0) goes for a third straight 9-0 regular season. 


Portland St. Patrick 27, Waldron 6

The Shamrocks (3-0) have the highest playoff point average in 8-player thanks in part to handing Waldron (2-1) its first loss. The victory also made Portland St. Patrick 21-4 since moving to 8-player football in 2012 – and continued an impressive defensive effort this fall as the team is giving up only eight points per game. Click to read more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

Also noted:  

Rapid River 36, Ontonagon 22 – Although Ontonagon (0-2) is new to 8-player football, it gave Rapid River (3-0) its closest regular-season game since Week 9 of 2012.

Deckerville 66, Carsonville-Port Sanilac 13 – The Eagles (3-0) added to their recent dominance of rival CPS (0-3) with their second-most points in three seasons of 8-player ball.

PHOTO: Lowell charges toward the end zone during its 30-25 come-from-behind win over East Grand Rapids on Friday. (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.)