Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 24, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Fall officially is upon us. And so is the home stretch of another MHSAA football regular season.

Four weeks remain before the playoffs begin, and that allows us to crunch some numbers all 596 11-player teams surely are following with interest.

So far, one team has qualified for the postseason. Another 73 can do so with a victory this week.

And that's only part of the excitement, as many still have chances at league championships hanging in the balance.

Many are mentioned below in this week's Drive for Detroit report.

Greater Detroit

Livonia Churchill 43, Canton 40

Churchill took a major stride toward its first league title since 1979. Although the teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards in total offense, the Chargers made a last stand to improve to 5-0 and 3-0 in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South. For Canton, it’s been some tough luck – its two losses are by a combined four points. Click to read more from Mlive Detroit.

Also noted:

Orchard Lake St. Mary 13, Detroit Cass Tech 6 – Cass Tech has appeared invincible, but this victory by the reigning MHSAA Division 3 champion over the reigning champ in Division 1 re-opens the debate over the best in Michigan overall this fall.

Detroit University Prep 28, Warren Michigan Collegiate 26 – After winning one game in the Charter School Conference in 2011, University Prep is one win from clinching at least a share of the title and also equaling its most ever.

Oak Park 20, Farmington 15 – At 5-0, Oak Park has won its most games since 2007 and is off to its best start since 1998.

Milan 35, Monroe St. Mary Catholic 20 – The Big Reds are in the midst of one of the biggest turnarounds in the state this fall, now 5-0 after going 1-8 in 2011 and losing their last four to Monroe St. Mary.

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 43, East Grand Rapids 17

This was played in a baseball stadium, Fifth Third Ballpark, but hardly looked like a baseball game on the scoreboard. Forest Hills Central scored all 43 points in the first half and continued on what is shaping up as a special season despite the competition in the ultra strong O-K White. The Rangers improved to 4-1 and had lost seven straight to the Pioneers dating back to 2001. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids Christian 38, Caledonia 21 – This is another one that dictates some order in the O-K White, with both of these teams still 4-1 despite the Eagles’ one-game league advantage.

Comstock Park 38, Belding 31 – The Panthers outlasted the Redskins to remain one of only two 2-0 teams atop the O-K Blue.

Montague 9, Whitehall 3 – Make that six straight wins for Montague in the battle for the “Bell” that has raged more than a century.

Muskegon Mona Shores 41, Grand Rapids Union 6 – Every week seems to bring another accomplishment for the Sailors, who are 4-1 for the first time since 1989.

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford 14, Menominee 13

Overlooked accidentally in Friday’s pregame report, this ended up as the best this weekend in the entire peninsula. Both entered 4-0 after the first week of Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference play and with little to spare. The league again looks like a gauntlet after three of five teams made the playoffs in 2011 and a fourth finished 5-4. Click to read more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Marquette 35, Gladstone 14 – Also in the GNUPC, this keeps Marquette just a game back of the co-leaders and two from making the playoffs.                              

Rapid River 60, Engadine 40 – Rapid River was one of three undefeated teams atop the Bridge 8-Man Football Alliance heading into the week; now there are two.

Cedarville 42, Eben Junction Superior Central 12 – These were the other two B8FA teams that came in 4-0; Cedarville continues to look like possibly the best team in all of 8-player this fall.

Iron Mountain North Dickinson 40, Bark River-Harris 0 – The Nordics became the first team to earn an MHSAA playoff berth; they are 5-0 playing only eight regular-season games this fall.

Southwest and Border

Edwardsburg 49, Three Rivers 41

These Wolverine B Conference South foes seem to be tailor-made for the rain that fell all over the Lower Peninsula on Friday. On a night of offensive firepower, Edwardsburg supplied a little bit more by running for 485 yards and seven touchdowns. The win sets up the Eddies as Dowagiac’s biggest competition for the league title. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Watervliet 41, Hartford 29 – The separation has begun in the Southwestern Athletic Conference South, and Watervliet moved to 5-0 overall.

Paw Paw 24, Vicksburg 13 – The Redskins also moved to 5-0 overall and are tied with Plainwell now atop the Wolverine B Conference North.

Portage Central 33, St. Joseph 23 – The best of the strong Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West keep beating up on each other, with the Mustangs now just a game behind the leaders.

Stevensville Lakeshore 37, Niles 21 – Similar story from this SMAC West game, but Lakeshore is sharing first place with Mattawan, a win ahead of Central and Portage Northern.

Lower Up North

Traverse City Central 49, West Branch Ogemaw Heights 21

There’s plenty to tout with the surging Trojans. They’re 4-1, tying last season’s win total. They’re tied with crosstown rival Traverse City West atop the Big North Conference. They’re off to their best start since 1991, when the schools were still combined. And they’ve got the Titans next in arguably the biggest game of this rivalry since they split in 1997. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Also noted:

Traverse City West 40, Cadillac 11 – The Titans couldn’t afford a trip-up heading into this week’s game with Central that could eventually be the decider in the Big North Conference.

Traverse City Christian 60, Big Rapids Crossroads 48 – These teams have only one win combined between them, but Christian set a school record for points and Crossroads scored its third-most ever.

Kingsley 12, Frankfort 6 – After a four-point loss to Frankfort in 2011, the Stags turned the tables to keep atop the Northwest Conference.

Boyne City 29, Traverse City St. Francis 13 – The Ramblers had lost 10 straight to St. Francis, including 28-0 in 2011.

Thumb and Bay

Lapeer West 13, Linden 10

A 23-yard field goal with five seconds to play earned Lapeer West coach Mike Smith his 100th win and handed Linden its first loss of the season. Both Flint Metro League teams have a loss and are chasing first-place Swartz Creek. Click to read more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Freeland 16, Saginaw Swan Valley 14 – Another week, another Tri-Valley Conference Central re-mix at the top; now it’s Hemlock in first with these two tied for second.

Midland 41, Mount Pleasant 34 – The Chemics keep churning through close ones; they improved to 5-0 with their third win of seven or fewer points this fall.

Reese 23, Vassar 0 – This wasn’t as close as billed, perhaps, but Reese now is the sure frontrunner (again) in the Greater Thumb Conference West.

Richmond 35, Armada 33 – While Croswell-Lexington has a firm hold on first in the Blue Water Area Conference, five more teams (these two included) are either 3-2 or 2-3 overall and working toward that magic number of six wins.  


Charlotte 35, Mason 3

On one hand, it was a little early to put so much pressure on a young Mason team that indeed started 4-0, but against opponents that have combined for only two wins so far. On the other hand, few in mid-Michigan gave Charlotte much of a chance in this one – and the Orioles no doubt took that to heart. Charlotte is 3-2 and looks good to win at least three more and earn its first playoff berth since 2008. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Holt 21, East Lansing 14 – Despite a couple of tough losses to elite teams, Holt isn’t going away; the Rams are 3-2 and look good to double that win total after handing the Trojans their first loss this fall.

Springport 26, Union City 25 – Three losses by a combined 21 points led to a tough start this fall for the Spartans, but this helps after they lost to Union City 47-8 in 2011.

DeWitt 34, St. Johns 20 – The Panthers look like they’ve found another quarterback in Jacob Heath, and need just one more win in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red for a share of the title.

Portland 40, Williamston 7 – This sets up the CAAC White as a two-team race between the Raiders and Lansing Catholic.

Trophy Games

Each week, the MHSAA highlights trophy games around the state. Here's another to go with the Montague/Whitehall battle for "The Bell" mentioned above.

  • Iosco County News-Herald and Oscoda Press (News-Press) Trophy: Oscoda hosted Tawas in this 58th meeting dating back to 1954, and won its seventh straight of the series. Final: Oscoda 22, Tawas 18.

PHOTO: Orchard Lake St. Mary junior fullback Jeff Robinson rumbles through the Detroit Cass Tech defensive during Friday's win by the Eaglets. (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.)