Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 22, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A total of 93 teams remain undefeated after the fourth week of this MHSAA football season.

A number of them had to overcome major challenges last week to remain flawless.

Read on for last week's most significant results from every corner of the state, kicked off by a bit of the story behind one of the surprise 4-0 teams of 2014.

Southwest and Border

Vicksburg 25, Paw Paw 20

This wins out as the biggest result from a weekend of many from this part of the state for a few reasons, including its contribution to Vicksburg's overall body of work. The Bulldogs won four games last season and three in 2012, but improved to 4-0 this fall by beating the reigning Wolverine B East champion after beating reigning West champion Edwardsburg a week ago. Paw Paw (3-1) has lost only four regular-season games since the start of 2010. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted: 

Edwardsburg 24, Plainwell 22 – The Eddies (3-1) bounced back from a two-point loss to Vicksburg by beating a Plainwell (3-1) team that had outscored its first three opponents by a combined 105-19.

Decatur 28, Gobles 14 – Decatur (4-0) has won 12 straight nonleague games over the last four seasons, including two over the always-solid Tigers (3-1).

Stevensville Lakeshore 17, St. Joseph 7 – The Lancers (4-0) are already starting to separate in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West having now beaten the Bears (3-1) in addition to reigning champion Portage Central in successive weeks.

Coldwater 35, Parma Western 28 – Coldwater is 4-0 for the first time since 1983 and got there by holding off a Parma Western (2-2) team that has lost two games by a combined eight points.

West Michigan

Rockford 28, Hudsonville 27 

This was everything it was billed, the Rams winning for the fifth straight time but the matchup returning to “classic” status after a few one-sided contests. Hudsonville (3-1) scored late in the fourth quarter to pull within a point of the lead, but went for a 2-point conversion and the lead – and Rockford (4-0) made the stop. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids West Catholic 35, Hudsonville Unity Christian 21 – Unity Christian (2-2) has impressed early, but West Catholic (4-0) remains the elite of small Class B programs on this side of the state.

East Kentwood 39, Grandville 38 – The Falcons (4-0) are off to their best start since 2004, and Grandville (2-2) is only 11 points over two losses from the same record.

Whitehall 41, Mason County Central 27 – Whitehall (4-0) is off to its best start since 2006 thanks to avenging last season’s 14-point loss to Mason County Central (2-2).

Muskegon 37, East Grand Rapids 7 – Few prepared for league play like Muskegon (4-0), which opened with wins over Detroit Catholic Central, Grand Rapids Christian, Grandville and now the Pioneers (2-2).

Bay and Thumb

Millington 27, Frankenmuth 13

The rivalry remains revved, with Millington ending Frankenmuth’s 17-game Tri-Valley Conference East winning streak and on the Eagles’ home field. Frankenmuth (3-1) had last lost a league game in 2011, also to the Cardinals (4-0). Click for more from The Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Flint Beecher 32, Goodrich 13 – The Bucs (4-0) look like early favorites to push reigning champion Montrose in the Genesee Area Conference Red, although Goodrich (3-1) gets the Rams first, this week.

Coleman 29, Carson City-Crystal 26 – A pair of two-point losses kept Coleman (3-1) from last season’s Mid-State Activities Conference title, making this three-point win over the reigning champion Eagles (3-1) that much sweeter.

Grand Blanc 13, Brighton 10 – The Bobcats (3-1) are off to a great start toward repeating as champions of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West, with Brighton (2-2) last season’s runner-up.

Mount Pleasant 24, Midland 21 – This has turned into a Saginaw Valley Association rivalry, with four of the last five between the two decided by eight points or fewer; Mount Pleasant (3-1) has beaten Midland (2-2) four of those last five.

Greater Detroit

Ypsilanti Community 20, Chelsea 14

Coming off its first sub-.500 season in the last 16, Chelsea (3-1) has looked so far much more like its usual playoff team self. That makes this arguably the most impressive win of the new Ypsilanti Community’s first two seasons – and gives the Grizzlies (3-1) a nice edge in the tough Southeastern Conference White. Click for more from

Also noted:

Dearborn Heights Robichaud 36, Saginaw Nouvel 13 – The Bulldogs (4-0) are off to another impressive start as they play for a fourth-straight playoff berth, while Nouvel (1-3) finds itself in a rare position of needing to win out to guarantee a return.

Oxford 21, Lake Orion 14 – What better way for Oxford (4-0) to prepare for reigning Division 1 champion and league favorite Clarkston than by beating last season’s Oakland Activities Association Red co-runner-up Lake Orion (2-2).

Birmingham Brother Rice 28, Warren DeLaSalle 21 – Rival Detroit Catholic Central is up next for Brother Rice (4-0), but the Warriors first had to survive a second-straight close one against the Pilots (3-1).

Warren Michigan Collegiate 20, Detroit University Prep 0 – Not only did the Cougars (4-0) avenge last season’s two-point loss to University Prep (3-1), but they also continued a now three-game shutout streak. 


Battle Creek Harper Creek 52, Charlotte 45 (3 OT)

This has been the best game of the four-week history of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, with Harper Creek rebounding from a Week 3 loss to league favorite Jackson Lumen Christi by surviving against the Orioles (1-3). Harper Creek (2-2) led by three scores at one point before Charlotte surged back and tied the score with less than a minute left in regulation. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer

Also noted:

Lansing Everett 42, Holt 41 (OT) – These are two of five Capital Area Activities Conference Blue teams that look capable of making the playoffs, and Everett (2-2) can breathe just a bit easier while Holt (1-3) has its work cut out to stay alive.

Grand Ledge 20, Okemos 7 – The Chieftains (2-2) clearly are improved and another CAAC Blue playoff contender, but Grand Ledge (2-2) remains a step ahead.

St. Johns 42, Mason 21 – This solidified the Redwings (4-0) as DeWitt’s top competition in the CAAC Red, and left Mason (1-3) needing to win out against a manageable group after starting with four strong opponents.

Williamston 32, Eaton Rapids 13 – The Hornets (4-0) are back among the best in the Lansing area, off to their best start since their Finals runner-up season of 2010 after soundly defeating the Greyhounds (2-2).

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee had outscored Iron Mountain (2-2) by a combined score of 64-14 the last two seasons dominating this matchup while the Mountaineers worked through a couple of middling seasons. Iron Mountain looks up to one of the toughest schedules in the U.P., while the Miners (2-2), coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, must rebound from two straight losses with a tough second half of the schedule looming. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Ishpeming 38, Ishpeming Westwood 14 – Make that 17 straight over Westwood (3-1) for the Hematites (4-0), who by way of their eight-game schedule need one more win to become the first team this season to qualify for the playoffs.

Menominee 49, Gladstone 6 – The Braves (3-1) remain off to a strong start, but Menominee (4-0) remains the team to beat in the Great Northern U.P. Conference.

Marquette 24, Escanaba 22 – The Redmen (3-1) kicked off the Great Northern U.P. Conference schedule by breaking a three-game losing streak to the Eskymos (1-3).  

Lake Linden-Hubbell 28, Bessemer 20 – The Lakes improved to 3-1 while dropping Bessemer to the same in a battle of 2013 playoff teams.

Lower Up North

Tawas 34, Lincoln Alcona 20

Tawas looked like it might be on the upswing with a 2-1 start after winning a combined five games over the last two seasons. Beating a Lincoln Alcona team that had won 15 straight regular-season games made the point loud and clear. The Tigers (3-1) beat Tawas by 20 in 2013 and 36 points in 2012. Click for more from the Bay City Times.

Also noted:

Petoskey 42, Traverse City West 21 – Despite falling to favorite Cadillac last week, Petoskey (3-1) stayed in the Big North Conference mix by doubling up the Titans (1-3).

Cadillac 41, Alpena 28 – Make that 15 wins in 16 games for Cadillac (4-0), although Alpena (2-2) deserves a mention for its improvement.

Elk Rapids 38, Maple City Glen Lake 12 – Despite a 1-2 start, don’t forget the Elks (2-2), who beat solid Glen Lake (2-1) in impressive fashion.

Hillman 34, Rogers City 32 (2 OT) – The Tigers are figuring out every way to win, now doing so twice by more than 40 points and twice by a touchdown or less; Rogers City (1-3) is better than its record.


Peck 53, Dryden 6 

The way both had outscored their first three opponents, this looked like it could be higher scoring. But the reigning MHSAA champion Peck (4-0) impressed as much on defense as offense, scoring at least 48 points for the fourth time this fall while giving up its first score of the season. Dryden (3-1) hadn’t given up a point since opening night. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald

Also noted: 

Deckerville 54, Morrice 26 – The Eagles (4-0) continued to shine against the Orioles (2-2), who playing 8-player for the first time after some success at the 11-player level.

Posen 30, Ewen-Trout Creek 24 – After opening with two losses, Posen (2-2) has bounced back well in pursuit of a second-straight playoff berth.

PHOTO: Mount Pleasant has won four of its last five against Midland, including 24-21 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.)