Drive for Detroit: Week 4 in Review

September 19, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A pair of game-winning field goals. Gutsy calls to go for two. Three significant streaks broken and a pair of MHSAA records set, and on top of it all a scene to draw a tear from even the most macho fan. 

What more could we ask for from one weekend of high school football?

Our Week 4 review touches on a lot of these stories and more. But also check out this Observer & Eccentric piece how two teams came together to make a special night for Novi's "hydration engineer" and his mother, who is fighting cancer for the second time. A piece by WXYZ-TV also is at the bottom of this report. 

Bay & Thumb

Freeland 12, Alma 6

The Falcons (4-0) added to a 16-game regular-season winning streak and kept hold on their lead in the Tri-Valley Conference Central, but just barely thanks to a defense that locked down an Alma offense that averaged 36 points per game over its first three. Freeland had three interceptions to stay ahead of the Panthers, who have given up only 26 points on the year. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.

Also noted:

Croswell-Lexington 48, Almont 28 – The Pioneers (3-1) are a three-point loss to Richmond from perfection, but are keeping themselves in the Blue Water Area Conference conversation thanks to this win over Almont (2-2).

Flint Carman-Ainsworth 41, Flint Powers Catholic 7 – A tough opening schedule made it tough to gauge the Cavaliers (2-2), but downing Powers (2-2) said plenty and kept them undefeated in the Saginaw Valley League Blue.

Midland 31, Mount Pleasant 28 – Gavin Archbold drilled a 40-yard field goal as the final seconds ticked off the clock to give Midland (3-1) the edge over the Oilers (1-3) in a series that has seen the last five games decided by eight points or fewer.

Montrose 29, Flint Beecher 15 – What’s generally a three-team race in the Genesee Area Conference Red now has two favorites with Montrose (3-1) and Lake Fenton both downing Beecher (2-2) over the last two weeks. 

Greater Detroit

Farmington Hills Harrison 28, West Bloomfield 0

Harrison (3-1) avenged last season’s Week 9 loss by dealing West Bloomfield (2-2) its first shutout since 2010. Both could emerge as eventual league champions; Harrison is 2-0 in the Oakland Activities Association White, and the Lakers have two strong opening wins in the OAA Red. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Also noted:

Birmingham Brother Rice 13, Warren DeLaSalle 3 – The Warriors (3-1) are back after their first sub-.500 season in 30 years, with this win over DeLaSalle (2-2) giving them more victories than in all of 2015.

Oak Park 44, Rochester Adams 43 (OT) – The Knights (2-2) went for the two-point conversion in overtime and made it five straight over Adams (3-1) and stay in the mix in the OAA White.

Detroit Catholic Central 28, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Ohio, 21 (OT) – This was the first close game for both teams, with the Shamrocks (4-0) emerging as the still-undefeated by winning overtime.  

Warren Fitzgerald 24, St. Clair Shores South Lake – The Spartans (4-0) are in a slightly more comfortable position in the Macomb Area Conference Silver thanks to this win and an earlier victory by South Lake (3-1) over 2015 champion Madison Heights Madison. 


Portland 36, Lansing Catholic 35

The Lansing area’s most anticipated game was as good as expected, coming down to a made two-point conversion with 25 seconds to play that kept Portland (4-0) atop the Capital Area Activities Conference White. Lansing Catholic (3-1), which beat Portland in a Division 5 District Final last season after losing their regular-season matchup, led the entire game until that go-ahead score. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Stockbridge 70, Leslie 32 – This wasn’t just another 100-point game involving Stockbridge (3-1); Mason Gee-Montgomery threw eight touchdown passes, reportedly breaking the MHSAA career record in the category after entering this season needing 21 to do so.

Greenville 35, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 34 – The Yellow Jackets (3-1) now have one more win than all of last season after handing Forest Hills Central (3-1 also after going 2-7 a year ago) its first loss.

Ithaca 45, Pinconning 0 – The Yellowjackets’ third straight shutout also put them at 4-0 and 97-3 over their last 100 games, the best 100-game winning percentage in MHSAA history.

DeWitt 47, Mason 0 – The Panthers (3-1) finish with a couple tough nonleague matchups, but beating Mason (3-1) this well makes it look like they won’t have many more challenges in the CAAC Red. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City Central 38, Portage Central 22

Storms pushed the end of this one past midnight Friday, but Traverse City Central left its home field with a big-time statement win against one of the southwest corner's top teams. The Trojans finished on a 21-7 second-half run to remain undefeated at 4-0 and hand the Mustangs (3-1) their first loss while scoring the most points Portage Central has given up since a 2013 Division 2 Semifinal. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Johannesburg-Lewiston 47, Central Lake 14 – The Cardinals’ five-year playoff streak looked to be in jeopardy, but getting to 2-2 with this win over Central Lake (1-3) will help significantly with a tough slate ahead.

Lincoln Alcona 58, AuGres-Sims 20 – Alcona (3-1) is all alone atop the North Star League standings with the second-place Wolverines (3-1) now needing some help and two others only a win back.

Maple City Glen Lake 42, Onekama 7 – The Lakers (3-1) kept pace in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders division and are the only team to beat the Portagers (3-1) during the last two regular seasons, having done so last year as well.  

Roscommon 20, Beaverton 14 – Another week, another important win for upstart Jack Pine Conference co-leader Roscommon (4-0), which dealt the Beavers (2-2) a second straight loss.

Southeast & Border

Saline 26, Temperance Bedford 24

There’s a chance this season’s Southeastern Conference Red championship will come down to the field goal kicked by Vinnie Patteri with three seconds to play against Bedford (3-1) after he missed an extra point earlier in the game and was injured the week before when Saline (4-0) also won on a late field goal. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Also noted:

Sand Creek 38, Morenci 36 – The Aggies are continuing to enjoy their best start since 2006, making themselves a Tri-County Conference contender by beating a Morenci team (2-2) that has been the last two seasons.

Ann Arbor Skyline 35, Monroe 22 – After a tough start, Skyline (1-3) lost to Saline by only three last week and now has its first win over a Monroe team that while 2-2 has made the playoffs four of the last five seasons.

Ida 58, Brooklyn Columbia Central 34 – The matchup of last season’s top two in the Lenawee County Athletic Association went Ida’s way again, with the Bluestreaks (4-0) now tied atop the league with Dundee and Columbia Central (2-2) needing to chase.

New Boston Huron 7, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 6 – The Chiefs (3-1) may be a win behind in the Huron League standings but kept themselves in the conversation – with much more to celebrate – by beating the Falcons (2-2) for the first time since 1986. 

Southwest Corridor

Cassopolis 28, Berrien Springs 21

The Rangers secured their first 4-0 start since 2009 in avenging a 7-0 loss from a year ago. Cassopolis mounted the winning the drive with three minutes to play and handed the Shamrocks (1-2) their second defeat by seven or fewer points this fall. Both won nine games a year ago. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.

Also noted:

Comstock 26, Bronson 16 – The Colts’ 40-game losing streak is history as they won for the first time since 2011 to go to 1-3 this fall.

Vicksburg 24, Plainwell 8 – The Bulldogs (3-1) will need some help in the Wolverine Conference after falling to favorite Edwardsburg two weeks ago, but getting past perennial playoff team Plainwell (1-3) was big for postseason hopes.

Stevensville Lakeshore 31, St. Joseph 12 – A week after a big loss to Portage Central, Lakeshore (3-1) bounced back quickly and well in handing the Bears (3-1) their first defeat.

Portage Northern 24, Niles 21 – Portage Northern (2-2) got a needed victory as it hopes to get back to the playoffs after missing last fall; it’s worth noting that the Vikings (3-1) do have one more win already than all of last season. 

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee 35, Iron Mountain 13

The Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference title is hardly wrapped up, but Negaunee (4-0) has now handed the only losses this season to two teams – Iron Mountain and Calumet – and has to feel pretty confident with nemesis Ishpeming coming up in three weeks. Iron Mountain (3-1) handed the Hematites their lone loss this fall and now will be rooting for them. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

St. Ignace 46, East Jordan 8 – This meeting of early contenders in the NMFC Legacy didn’t stay close for long, as St. Ignace (3-1) kept its spot among favorites by handing East Jordan (3-1) a first defeat.

Newberry 22, Felch North Dickinson (20) – The Indians (4-0) stood up to their first challenge of the season to remain atop the Mid-Eastern Conference with North Dickinson (2-2) falling into a tie for third.  

Gwinn 28, Bark River-Harris 14 – Save for a Week 2 loss to Iron Mountain, Gwinn (3-1) already has had a memorable fall with as many wins as in any season since going 4-5 in 2001 – and now a victory over last season’s Mid-Eastern Conference co-champion Broncos (2-2).

Kingsford 36, Sault Ste. Marie 14 – The Flivvers (3-1) lined themselves up nicely for this week’s matchup against Great Northern Conference power Menominee, while dropping first-year league member Sault Ste. Marie to 1-3 overall.

West Michigan

Hudsonville Unity Christian 24, Zeeland West 22 (OT)

Unity Christian (4-0) has strung together a pair of nice finishes over the last two seasons, but both included big regular-season losses to West including 52-6 in Week 9 last season. However, the Crusaders looked like they might have figured out the Dux (3-1) a bit, falling only 28-21 in a Division 4 Regional Final a few weeks later – and this time handed the reigning Division 4 champion its first regular season loss since Week 2 of 2013. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 24, East Kentwood 23 – The Huskies (2-2) squeaked past what’s been considered one of the contenders in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red; East Kentwood’s two losses the last two weeks were by a combined eight points.  

Grandville Calvin Christian 36, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 33 – The Squires (2-2) have come back from opening losses to bigger teams with a pair of wins against O-K Silver opponents, this one over a NorthPointe team (3-1) that played in MHSAA Semifinals the last two years.

Grandville 36, Hudsonville 6 – The Bulldogs (4-0) now look like the clear favorites in the O-K Red with a combined 185-28 score on their four opponents including an Eagles team (3-1) that looked like the other likely contender.  

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer 39, Muskegon Mona Shores 34 – Reeths-Puffer (3-1) had lost to Mona Shores by a combined score of 97-18 over the last two seasons, but this time dealt the Sailors (1-3) their third straight defeat of the fall. 


Deckerville 38, Peck 0

These were two of the top three in the North Central Thumb 8-Man League, but Deckerville stands alone and impressively – the Eagles have given up 20 points this season and no more than eight in any game. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Also noted:

Rapid River 48, Ontonagon 36 – One of the closer games statewide in 8-player saw Rapid River win its third straight to move to 3-1, with Ontonagon 2-2 after two straight losses to top Western Eight Conference teams.

New Haven Merritt 36, Hale 32 – The Mustangs are off to their first 4-0 start in their five-year program's history but only after just surviving an Eagles team that at 3-1 has as many wins this season as the last three combined.

PHOTO: Ithaca improved to 97-3 over its last 100 games with a win over Pinconning. (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.)