Drive for Detroit: Week 4 Preview

September 13, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

There are some magnificent comeback seasons unfolding across Michigan this football season.

Holton is 3-0 for the first time since 1999. Leroy Pine River won one game a year ago and is 3-0 for the first time since 2004. We highlight two more 3-0 teams below in Battle Creek Central and Kingsley with similar stories to celebrate – and also big tests this week as we edge closer to the midpoint of the regular season.

Games below are tonight unless noted. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed. will broadcast 14 games tonight, including four noted below. Our “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid.

Bay & Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-0) at Cass City (2-1)

Laker’s only single-digit regular-season win in 2017 came against Cass City, a 20-14 victory in Week 5 that eventually earned the Lakers the Greater Thumb Conference West championship. They went on to also defeat Cass City 18-14 in a Division 7 District Final – so the Red Hawks no doubt will be amped even more, if possible, as they look to break a nine-game losing streak against their neighbor from the north.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Flint Powers Catholic (2-1) at Davison (3-0), Grand Blanc (3-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (2-1), Croswell-Lexington (3-0) at Richmond (2-1), Carson City-Crystal (3-0) at Merrill (2-1).

Greater Detroit

Marine City (3-0) at Madison Heights Madison (3-0)

Paced by standout quarterback Austin Brown, Madison has outscored its first three opponents by a combined 116-27 in adding to a 15-game regular-season winning streak. The Eagles edged Marine City 28-24 a year ago on the way to winning the Macomb Area Conference Silver title, but the Mariners have been similarly dominant this fall outscoring opponents by a combined 122-37 – including 34-20 over an improved St. Clair Shores South Lake.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Eastpointe (2-1) at Warren Woods-Tower (3-0), Walled Lake Western (2-1) at Waterford Mott (3-0), Dearborn Fordson (3-0) at Livonia Churchill (2-1), Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (2-1).


Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-1) at Perry (2-1)

The Perry playoff watch has been on again the last few seasons as the Ramblers have finished 5-4 in 2016 and 4-5 last fall while in pursuit of their first postseason berth. Both Perry wins this season came against programs that had winning records a year ago – but the Ramblers are 0-4 against Lakewood since the formation of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference in 2014. The Vikings have never finished lower than second in the league and won it twice.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Holt (1-2) at DeWitt (2-1), Fowlerville (2-1) at Haslett (3-0), Reed City (3-0) at Howard City Tri-County (2-1), Hemlock (2-1) at St. Louis (3-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Kingsley (3-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-0), Saturday

Kingsley has rebounded from 1-8 by beating two 2017 playoff teams in three games under former-now-new coach Tim Wooer, who returned this fall after a decade at Traverse City West. But this weekend will provide a different level of barometer for the Stags’ rejuvenation. St. Francis has yet to be tested, winning its three games by an average of 38 points per.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Benzie Central (2-1) at Elk Rapids (3-0), Manton (3-0) at Lake City (3-0), Clare (3-0) at Roscommon (2-1), Traverse City West (1-2) vs. Traverse City Central (3-0) at Thirlby Field.

Southeast & Border

Riverview (2-1) at Milan (3-0)

Milan’s work over the last six seasons and beginning of this one is impressive: a 50-17 record with five playoff berths and three Huron League championships. But Riverview took the spotlight last season with the Huron title, 11 wins and a trip to the Division 3 Semifinals. Will Milan take it back this weekend? Senior running back Hunter Aeschbacker ran for 197 yards in a 26-21 Week 2 victory over Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and has 342 rushing yards total to go with more than 1,200 a year ago. Riverview was tripped up last week by the Falcons, 20-6.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Brooklyn Columbia Central (3-0) at Blissfield (2-1), Dundee (3-0) at Ida (2-1), Whitmore Lake (2-1) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (3-0), Chelsea (3-0) at Ypsilanti Lincoln (2-1).

Southwest Corridor

Portage Central (2-1) at Battle Creek Central (3-0)

Battle Creek Central’s best start since 2003 has drawn statewide attention, but Portage Central might be the biggest test yet. The Mustangs are coming off a one-point win on the road over rival Portage Northern and own a sizable victory over Richland Gull Lake, which the Bearcats beat by just a point. Regardless of what happens tonight, both teams could end up as league champions in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference – Battle Creek Central plays in the East and Portage Central in the West.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Edwardsburg (3-0) at Dowagiac (2-1), East Lansing (3-0) at Portage Northern (2-1), Saugatuck (3-0) at Schoolcraft (2-1), St. Joseph (2-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (1-2).

Upper Peninsula

Calumet (3-0) at Iron River West Iron County (3-0)

Calumet earned some valuable close-game experience with last week’s 14-12 win over Ishpeming Westwood, and now will get a look at the Wykons – who just missed making the Division 8 championship game a year ago. Having opened against three opponents with a combined 1-8 record, West Iron will be facing its toughest challenge since that three-point Semifinal loss to Saginaw Nouvel last fall – but did down Calumet 53-20 a year ago.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Gwinn (3-0) at Hancock (2-1), Ishpeming (3-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (2-1), Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-1) at St. Ignace (2-1), Iron Mountain (2-1) at Norway (2-1).

West Michigan

Whitehall (3-0) at Muskegon Oakridge (3-0)

Whitehall’s 28-14 win over Oakridge a year ago was a headline grabber – the Vikings hadn’t come out on top in this matchup since 1999. They fell short in their West Michigan Conference title pursuit thanks to a two-point loss to Montague the next week – but this is lining up as a similar opportunity except this time Whitehall is undefeated heading in. After scoring 50 or more points three times last season, Oakridge has done so in every game so far – but numbers are relative as tonight’s game will be the toughest challenge for both teams to date.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (2-1) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (1-2), Grand Rapids Christian (2-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (1-2), East Kentwood (2-1) at Holland West Ottawa (3-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (3-0) at Rockford (1-2).


AuGres-Sims (3-0) at Hillman (3-0)

The longtime North Star League foes made the jump together this fall into 8-player football. So far, so good – but Hillman surely hopes the move also includes the end of a two-game losing skid against the Wolverines, who are carrying an 11-game regular-season winning streak. They also haven’t given up a point since opening night – or faced an opponent with a win this season. Hillman’s early competition has been stronger, and things will get tougher after this for both as Onaway (2-1) and Posen (3-0) are among opponents left on both teams’ league schedules.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Bellevue (2-1) at Camden-Frontier (3-0), Onekama (3-0) at Fife Lake Forest Area (2-1), Suttons Bay (3-0) at Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (3-0), Rapid River (2-1) at Pickford (3-0).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews 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: Howard City Tri-County picks up yardage during last week’s win against Remus Chippewa Hills; Tri-County has a key matchup this week with Reed City. (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.)