Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 17, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most conferences in Michigan have between six and eight teams, and all start each season with hopes of ending up number one.

In a few weeks, showdowns to determine those top teams will take place all over the state. But in the meantime, the leg work must be done to set up those colossal matchups. And a number of those games were played during Week 4, although the most notable result came in a game that instead matched potential MHSAA championship contenders.

West Michigan

Muskegon 36, Lowell 21

The Big Reds have two running backs on pace to rush for 1,000 yards this season if the team makes any kind of run in the playoffs, and at this point it looks like they might run away from the rest of the Division 2 field. Muskegon added another win to its impressive start, in a game that some suggested matched the two best teams in the division this fall. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Zeeland East 27, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 23 – The Chix have to be considered one of the hottest teams in all of Michigan so far, with this win perhaps its most impressive of a 4-0 start.

Caledonia 14, Grandville 7 – After two straight seasons at 4-5, Caledonia is 4-0 heading into a series of tough O-K White games.

Comstock Park 13, Allendale 8 – This was one of the best rivalries of the old O-K Silver, and this first matchup between the two since 2004 was a strong way to start off the O-K Blue schedule.

Muskegon Mona Shores 21, Grand Haven 14 – Mona Shores’ 3-1 start is its best since 1997, and comes after the team won a combined three games over the last two seasons.

Greater Detroit

Oak Park 24, Southfield 18 (OT)

This has become Oak Park's most serious conversation about league contention since at least 2003, when it finished second in the Oakland Activities Association III to Farmington – which just happens to be the other team tied for first this fall in the OAA White, and also this week’s opponent. Oak Park needed overtime in this one to get past Southfield, which fell to 2-2 but is much better than that middling record suggests. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Farmington 19, Oxford 13 (OT) – This is the other overtime thriller that helped set up this week’s OAA White matchup; the Falcons haven’t given up more than 14 points this fall.

Birmingham Brother Rice 28, Warren DeLaSalle 0 – This is usually a much closer matchup (see explanation last week), but Brother Rice’s defensive performance was stunning and earns the Warriors top billing going forward in the Detroit Catholic League Central.

Waterford Our Lady 24, Royal Oak Shrine 21 – The Catholic League has other divisions too, and with this win Our Lady earned the status as biggest contender to Loyola in the Intersectional.

Milan 21, Grosse Ile 14 – Milan moved to 4-0 after winning just one game last season; the Big Reds look like Huron League favorites heading into this week’s matchup with Monroe St. Mary Catholic.

Southwest and Border

Stevensville Lakeshore 41, Portage Central 40

This nearly ended with the classic comeback, with Portage Central trailing by 20 at halftime. But Lakeshore hung on through a two-point conversion called back because of a penalty. That one-point swing will surely come to mean more as the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West season moves into October. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Bridgman 27, Niles Brandywine 26 – The Lakeland Conference is down to just three teams after playing with six only three seasons ago, and  Bridgman looks like the favorite already after beating Brandywine for the first time since 2006.

Reading 26, Springport 20 – This was a big one as the Rangers move quietly toward another Big Eight Conference decider in Week 8 against Union City.

Portage Northern 7, St. Joseph 0 – This was the other SMAC West game of most note, with these two now among four that are 1-1 in the league and 3-1 overall, but tied for third in the league.

Sturgis 27, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 12 – The Trojans were in a bit of a rough spot at 1-2 and coming off their first playoff berth in seven seasons; this victory could kick off a run back into the mix.

Lower Up North

Grayling 28, Traverse City St. Francis 20

The Vikings ended a nine-game losing streak against St. Francis, and after falling by three and one point the last two seasons, respectively. Grayling is considered one of the best teams in Division 5 and the Lake Michigan Conference favorite, and beating the Division 7 power Gladiators will no doubt strengthen both expectations. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Maple City Glen Lake 56, Benzie Central 12 – The Lakers are 4-0 for the first time since 2001 and appear to have made the Northwest Conference race a two-team battle with Kingsley. 

Boyne City 14, Harbor Springs 7 – Boyne City improved to 4-0 to equal last season’s win total heading into this week’s matchup with St. Francis.

Traverse City Central 40, Petoskey 0 – The Trojans announced their Big North Conference contention in a big way over a usual favorite, and next week can equal their 2011 win total by moving to 4-1.

Elk Rapids 48, Charlevoix 22 – Two losses by a combined 11 points have put the Elks at 2-2 and against the playoff wall, but this was a big step with two more tough games coming up.

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba 31, Marquette 22

This was a little unexpected, perhaps more than a little, with Marquette coming in undefeated and the Eskymos having been outscored 99-37 during their 1-2 start. But Escanaba’s defense shut down the Redmen during the second half to win the Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference opener. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Bessemer 39, Lake Linden-Hubbell 12 – Bessemer not only broke an eight-game losing streak to Lake Linden-Hubbell, but this victory also helped the Speedboys move to 3-1 and equal last season’s three wins.

Negaunee 28, Iron Mountain 6 – The Miners’ broke a two-game losing streak to Iron Mountain and have started 4-0 for the first time since 2006.

Ishpeming 38, Ishpeming Westwood 8 – Ishpeming pushed it to 16 straight over Westwood and hs now won 11 straight regular-season games.

Iron Mountain North Dickinson 55, Stephenson 30 – The Nordics’ point totals this season, in chronological order, have been 41, 42, 48 and 55.


DeWitt 28, Haslett 27

The Panthers have won this rivalry game 10 straight times, which might make it seem like it shouldn’t be a rivalry anymore. Don’t buy it. This game still matters a ton to both communities, and this brought back memories of the classics from the beginning of the 2000s. It also kept DeWitt tied for first in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red and has Haslett needing to win out to guarantee a playoff berth.

Also noted:

Perry 14, Flint Beecher 13 – The Ramblers should celebrate some small victories, like their best start since 2006;  two wins already equals their most since that same season.

Lansing Everett 21, Holt 3 – This was the first of four tough CAAC Blue foes the Vikings must survive; Grand Ledge, East Lansing and Lansing Sexton still loom after a 4-0 start.

St. Johns 14, Owosso 13 – The CAAC Red has been tough to read so far, but this combined with the DeWitt win means the Panthers and Redwings likely will play for the title again.

Morrice 44, Burton Atherton 14 – Before opening night, the last time Morrice (4-0) had won was 2009; the last time Morrice won four games in a season was 2006, and the last time the Orioles started 4-0 was 1997.

Thumb and Bay

Flint Powers Catholic 34, Saginaw Nouvel Catholic 12

This game may not have turned out as close as might have been expected. But the reigning Division 5 champion Chargers had plenty to celebrate after falling to Nouvel 55-14 in 2011, when Nouvel finished as Division 7 champion. Click to read more from The Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Saginaw Swan Valley 31, Alma 26 – The Vikings handed Alma its first Tri-Valley Conference Central loss, meaning Swan Valley and Hemlock are the only two still perfect in league play. 

Montrose 13, Goodrich 12 – This leaves Montrose and Lake Fenton as the teams to beat in the Genesee Area Conference Red.

Almont 17, Richmond 13 – By way of a series of three and four-point games, including this one, Almont is again among those chasing Croswell-Lexington at the top of the Blue Water Conference standings.

Beaverton 26, Houghton Lake 21 – The Beavers might not contend in the Jack Pine Conference after losing big to Gladwin in Week 3, but this win put them at 3-1 to equal their most wins since 2007 and has them halfway to their first playoff berth since 2000.

Trophy Games

Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. A number were played during Week 4.

  • Little Brown Jug: Union City hosted Athens in a Big Eight Conference matchup and kept the trophy for the 12th straight season. Final: Union City 33, Athens 18.
  • Little Brown Jug: The Kingsley/Suttons Bay matchup has been much more even, with the teams splitting their last 10 games although Kingsley won for the second straight: Final: Kingsley 62, Suttons Bay 7.
  • Little Brown Jug: Concord won its ninth of the last 10 against Homer (including a forfeit in 2006), but this was the closest of the recent renditions. Final: Concord 28, Homer 27.
  • The Axe: Newberry kept its strong start going by breaking a seven-game losing streak to rival Munising. Final: Newberry 29, Munising 12.
  • Rocket-Rebel Trophy: Wyoming Kelloggsville has won all six since it began playing Wyoming Lee annually again in 2007. Final: Kelloggsville 21, Lee 6.
  • Pioneer-Thunderbird Spirit Bowl: Dearborn has won three straight over its Western Wayne Athletic Conference rival Edsel Ford. Final: Dearborn 35, Edsel Ford 14.

PHOTO: Southfield (blue) and Oak Park battled into overtime of a key Oakland Activities Association game that in the end went Oak Park's way, 24-18. (Click to see more at Terry McNamara Photography.) 

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.)