Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 24, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just when we thought we'd figured out a few things about how this MHSAA football season might unfold ... we found out we don't know that much yet. 

Upsets ruled Week 4. Of course, the teams that won probably don't see their victories that way. And in two months, some of what we consider surprises now might not be considered stunners any longer.

But check out how the unexpected played a major role as we began the second third of this fall's slate. 

West Michigan

Lowell 31, Muskegon 20

Many were so caught up in Muskegon’s 45-0 win over Rockford two weeks ago that they likely didn’t give Lowell (4-0) a shot at catching the Big Reds (3-1). But Kyler Shurlow is fast becoming the next Red Arrows quarterback star, and he came up big in his team’s biggest game of the regular season. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Comstock Park 27, Allendale 25: The Falcons (3-1) have pushed Comstock Park to the brink the last two seasons, but the Panthers (4-0) survived again after a five-point win in their 2012 matchup.

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 14, East Kentwood 7: Reeths-Puffer (3-1) hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007, but is ascending after avenging last season’s 35-points loss to East Kentwood (2-2) to also equal its number of wins for the entire season.

Zeeland East 27, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 25: The undefeated Chix (4-0) had to survive a second straight game against Forest Hills Central (2-2) decided by four points or fewer.

Reed City 22, Newaygo 14: Make that 24 straight regular-season wins for the Coyotes (4-0), who by beating solid Newaygo (3-1) look even better to push it to 29.

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba 35, Marquette 14

This one was not just significant but probably shocking to fans who pay close attention to Upper Peninsula’s biggest schools. Escanaba entered 0-3 and Marquette 3-0, but the Eskymos made it three straight over the Redmen. Click to read more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

L'Anse 21, Hancock 20: The Purple Hornets (3-1) have one of the highest playoff point averages of any team expected to make the Division 8 playoffs, but Hancock (1-3) must win out to gain an automatic bid.

Negaunee 36, Iron Mountain 8: The Miners are 4-0 for the second straight season, but the Mountaineers (1-3) face their toughest start since 1990.

Norway 36, Manistique 34: Norway (2-2) is a win from equaling last season’s total after beating a 2012 playoff qualifier in Manistique (0-4).

Lake Linden-Hubbell 22, Bessemer 20: The Lakes (2-2) earned a shot at staying in the Great Western Conference title hunt, while dealing a blow to repeat hopes of Bessemer (3-1).


Holt 31, Lansing Everett 21

Just when it looked like Holt (2-2) wouldn’t factor in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue race this season, the Rams beat the reigning champion and presumed favorite by scoring more points in one game than Everett (3-1) had given up in its other three games combined. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Fowler 42, Bath 22: The Eagles (3-1) have outscored three opponents by a combined 106-50 since falling 40-0 to Mendon on opening night; Fowler also has beaten the Bees (2-2) in 24 straight.

Pinckney 20, Howell 10: Seeking their first winning record and playoff berth since 2001, the Pirates (3-1) are halfway there and off to their best start since that season; Howell remains in good shape at 3-1 as well.

Eaton Rapids 17, Jackson Northwest 7: The Greyhounds (3-1) have tied their most wins for a season since 1997, although Northwest (2-2) can’t be too frustrated with its most victories for a season since 2009.

Springport 18, Reading 13: The Spartans (3-1) lent Big 8 Conference leaders Jonesville and Homer a hand by downing last season’s champ, Reading (2-2).

Lower Up North

Standish-Sterling 27, Whittemore-Prescott 20

Standish-Sterling (4-0) continued its best start since 2008 with a late stand as Whittemore-Prescott (3-1) also played to remain perfect on the season. The Cardinals had won both games since the series was restarted after previously coming to close after the 1985 season. Click to read more from the Bay City Times

Also noted:

Kinglsey 31, Frankfort 20: The Stags (3-1) set up next week’s rematch with reigning Northwest Conference champion Maple City Glen Lake by edging Frankfort (2-2) for the third time in four seasons.

Cheboygan 42, Ludington 14: The Chiefs moved to 3-1 for the second straight season by dealing a first loss this fall to Ludington (3-1), which remains off to its best start since 2004.

Mancelona 22, Central Lake 18: These teams combined to go 17-5 in 2012, and Mancelona (2-2) got back on the right foot by also pushing Central Lake to 2-2 and claiming the M-88 Trophy. 

Traverse City St. Francis 34, Grayling 14: The Gladiators (3-1) ended Grayling’s 12-game regular-season winning streak and made it 10 of 11 over the Vikings (3-1).

Southwest and Border

Parchment 44, Constantine 26

Parchment has had only one playoff season over the last decade and not a lot of wins to be this excited about. The Panthers (2-2) hadn’t beaten Constantine (2-2) since the latter joined the Kalamazoo Valley Association in 2008, but Clay Wilkey averaged more than 20 yards per carry in leading Parchment to the big upset. Read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Portage Central 38, Stevensville Lakeshore 28: This makes Portage Central (4-0) one the favorites in the Southwestern Michigan Activities Conference West, while leaving Lakeshore (2-2) to battle back from its worst start since 2004.

St. Joseph 17, Portage Northern 10: St. Joseph (4-0) is that other favorite in the SMAC West, thanks to a defense that is giving up 12 points per game and held the Huskies (3-1) to a season low.

Niles Brandywine 26, Bridgman 18: The Bobcats (4-0) made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002 and haven’t slowed down, although Bridgman (2-2) gave them their toughest game to date.

Plainwell 44, Otsego 17: The Trojans (4-0) just keep rolling despite playing three 2012 playoff teams over their first four games; Otsego has little room for error at 2-2 and with tough opponents waiting in Weeks 8 and 9.

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Southfield 20, Oak Park 12

The Bluejays have arrived among the elite in the Detroit area. That seemed a pretty good bet after a four-point loss to Detroit Cass Tech during Week 1, but Southfield (3-1) took another big step by handing Oak Park (3-1) its first loss and shutting down a Knights offense averaging nearly 32 points per game entering the weekend. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 36, Lake Orion 7: Last season was the only other time during its 12-year history that Stoney Creek (4-0) had played powerful Lake Orion (3-1), and this one looked a lot different than that 35-point loss.

Birmingham Brother Rice 26, Warren DeLaSalle 24: Of a number of key Catholic League games, this one is the most telling; Brother Rice (4-0) might be the favorite again, but DeLaSalle (2-2) should push the other contenders as well.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 28, Flint Powers Catholic 2: Few statewide are surging early like the Fighting Irish (4-0), who have outscored opponents by a combined 172-10. Powers (2-2) hadn’t scored fewer than 14 points before this game.

Saline 35, Ann Arbor Pioneer 3: Saline tied for the Southeastern Conference Red title last season and missed winning outright by a one-point loss to Pioneer (2-2); this time, the Hornets (4-0) might not be slowed.

Bay and Thumb

Midland 51, Saginaw Arthur Hill 21

Much has been discussed, and rightly so, about Arthur Hill’s resurgence this season. But it appears the Saginaw Valley Association North still belongs to Midland (4-0), which showed it in a big way. The reigning league champ put up its season high points total against a Lumberjacks team that had started 3-0 and not given up more than 18 points in a game. Click to read more from the Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Mount Pleasant 35, Midland Dow 28: The Oilers’ two-win season of 2012 is fast becoming a distant memory, with this win over Dow (3-1) putting Mount Pleasant (3-1) in a tie for first in the SVA North.

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port 27, Unionville-Sebewaing 0: Hard to believe the Lakers (4-0) haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but they’ve now won as many games as in all of 2012. Beating USA (3-1) also sets Laker up for a Greater Thumb Conference West showdown with Reese that could decide the title.

Peck 61, Lawrence 38: These are two of the top 8-player teams in the state, with Peck (4-0) now owning the highest playoff point average and Lawrence (2-1) looking like a playoff lock as well in its first season after making the move.

Richmond 42, Almont 35 (2 OT): Make Richmond (3-1) the favorite now in the Blue Water Area Conference after beating both Almont (3-1) and Croswell-Lexington.

Trophy Games

Each week the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here are a few in addition to the one mentioned above:

Little Brown Jug: Union City vs. Athens. These two play for a trophy that originated in 1947. Final: Union City 33, Athens 14.

Little Brown Jug: Homer vs. Concord. Like their Big Eight Conference colleagues mentioned just above, these two play for a similar prize. Final: Homer 44, Concord 6.

The Axe: Munising vs. Newberry. This newer traveling award originated in 2004. Final: Munising 28, Newberry 27.

Rocket-Rebel Trophy: Wyoming Kelloggsville vs. Wyoming Lee. These crosstown rivals both also play in the O-K Silver. Final: Kelloggsville 47, Lee 6.

Battle for Butch: Beaverton vs. Gladwin. These Jack Pine Conference rivals play for a stuffed dog stitched together in 1937. Final: Gladwin 48, Beaverton 14.

Holton-Hesperia Trophy: Holton vs. Hesperia. These two have been foes in various leagues going back half a century. Final: Hesperia 40, Holton 19.

PHOTO: Lowell ran past Muskegon 31-20 in a face-off of two of the most highly-regarded teams in the state. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)

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.)