Drive for Detroit: Week 5 in Review

September 25, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

If there was a theme that emerged across much of the state during Week 5 in Michigan high school football, it boiled down to this: Not so fast. 

Not so fast, teams appearing to break away from the pack.

Not so fast, new contenders on the block who have won big but still have big opponents to play.

Not so fast, those counting out those old favorites because they’ve fallen early to teams on the rise.

And not so fast, if you’re thinking a slow start is sure to be followed by a disappointing finish.

We’ve passed the midpoint of the regular season, but this week’s Drive for Detroit review – powered by MI Student Aid – saw a number of teams show there’s plenty yet to prove and decide over the next month.  

Bay & Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 20, Cass City 14

This could be the eventual decider in the Greater Thumb Conference West as Laker handed Cass City (4-1) its first loss this season while beating the Red Hawks for the seventh straight year. The Lakers (4-1), perfect since falling to still-undefeated Hudson on opening night, held on as Cass City finished the game four yards from tying the score. Click for more from the Huron Daily Tribune (and check out the video below from Thumb Tailgater Sports).

Also noted:

New Lothrop 56, Flint Hamady 34 – Make that 66 wins in its last 67 regular-season games for New Lothrop (5-0), although Hamady (3-2) scored more than any opponent had on the Hornets in any game since 2014.

Midland 42, Bay City Central 35 – Midland (4-1) earned a solid win in a matchup of teams in first place in their respective Saginaw Valley League divisions; the Chemics are co-leaders in the Blue, and Central (3-2) is one of two atop the Red.

Lake Fenton 24, Byron 6 – The Blue Devils (4-1) held on to a slim lead over Montrose in the Genesee Area Conference Red while sending Byron (3-2) to fourth place in what continues to be a tight league race.

Frankenmuth 47, Bridgeport 42 – The Eagles (5-0) trailed by 21 during the second half before coming back to beat a Bridgeport team that at 3-2 has more wins already than it finished with in any of the last three seasons.

Greater Detroit

West Bloomfield 17, Rochester Adams 16

Over two weeks West Bloomfield broke open the Oakland Activities Association Red title chase, handing Adams its first loss after doing the same to Clarkston in Week 4. Quarterback Bryce Veasley threw two touchdown passes including a 99-yarder to Tre Mosley, and the Lakers (3-2) stopped an Adams two-point conversion attempt after the Highlanders (4-1) scored during the final minutes. Click for more from the Oakland Press (and see highlights from State Champs! Sports Network).

Also noted:

Madison Heights Madison 28, Marine City 24 – A contender in the Macomb Area Conference Silver, Madison (5-0) got a major playoff points boost from handing MAC Gold co-leader Marine City (4-1) its first loss.

Detroit Mumford 13, Detroit Cody 7 – Mumford (4-1) kept just ahead of Cass Tech with one more league win in the Detroit Public School League Green title hunt, and likely will cheer for Cody (3-2) to beat the Technicians this week.

Birmingham Groves 32, Farmington Hills Harrison 31 – The reigning champ Falcons (4-1) kept themselves alive in the OAA White, moving into a second place tie now with Harrison (3-2) and Troy one win behind Oak Park.

Clinton Township Clintondale 30, Hazel Park 14 – MAC Bronze leader Clintondale (5-0) eclipsed last year’s win total with an impressive one over the OAA Blue-leading Vikings (3-2), who are already one win better than last year with their most since 2012. 


Portland 35, Lansing Catholic 6

The Raiders, adding this win to another over Williamston in Week 3, own a commanding lead in the Capital Area Activities Association White as they play for a three-peat. Portland (4-1) scored the first 28 points this time and locked down an offense that was averaging 39 points per game entering the night. Lansing Catholic (4-1) is 29-3 during the regular season since the start of 2014 – with all three losses to the Raiders. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Williamston 35, Ionia 34 – The Hornets (3-2) bounced back from painful losses to Portland and Lansing Catholic by edging the Bulldogs (3-2), who similarly have lost two games by a combined nine points.

Clare 42, Harrison 14 – A potential Jack Pine Conference-deciding matchup with Beaverton wouldn’t come until Week 9, but Clare (4-1) took a step toward making it happen by knocking the Hornets (3-2) into a tie for third place.

Laingsburg 33, Fowler 0 – The Wolfpack (4-1) set up this week’s matchup with Pewamo-Westphalia for first place in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference by extending a two-year winning streak over Fowler (2-3) for the first time since 2008-09.

Grand Ledge 28, Okemos 20 – This kept reigning champ Grand Ledge (4-1) tied atop the CAAC Blue with Holt, but also showed that Okemos (4-1) can hang with the league’s best after a fast start against opponents that haven’t had much success this fall.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Boyne City 21, Grayling 6

The Ramblers (5-0) extended their winning streak over Grayling to four straight and in doing so took a sizable step toward making Week 9’s matchup with Traverse City St. Francis a potential decider in the Northern Michigan Football League Legends division. Those two met to decide the title in Week 9 in 2016 and are tied for first place again. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Also noted:

Cheboygan 22, Kalkaska 15 – Also in the NMFL Legends, Cheboygan (2-3) equaled its most wins in a season since 2013 by avenging last year’s 35-0 loss to the Blazers (3-2).

Frankfort 52, Johannesburg-Lewiston 14 – The Panthers (4-1) took their points-per-game average this season to 47 against the rebounding Cardinals (3-2), who will equal last year’s win total with their next victory.

Lake City 20, Beal City 14 – The Trojans (5-0) have now handed losses to two of three teams tied for second in the Highland Conference, while Beal City (3-2) will face those other two over the next two weeks as it looks to stay in contention.

Harbor Springs 20, St. Ignace 16 – The Rams (3-2) downed the reigning league champion Saints (1-4) to maintain first place in the NMFL Legacy.

Southeast & Border

Michigan Center 36, Addison 24

The Cardinals (4-1) dissolved at least some of the excitement surrounding Addison’s best start in more than a decade by creating a three-way tie for first in the Cascades Conference with the Panthers (4-1) and Napoleon (which had beaten Michigan Center in Week 3). Addison and Napoleon already have met as well. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Also noted:

Brighton 30, Livonia Stevenson 10 – The Bulldogs (3-2) kept themselves in contention for at least a shared title in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Black by handing Stevenson (4-1) its first loss.

Blissfield 25, Brooklyn Columbia Central 14 – After leader Hudson, the Lenawee County Athletic Association is a bit of a jumble with Blissfield (3-2) now in the mix a week after Columbia Central (3-2) looked to be joining.

Jackson 35, Lansing Sexton 28 – The Vikings might be the best 1-4 team in Michigan and showed it against the talented Big Reds (3-2) after earlier absorbing one and two-point losses.

Reading 13, Quincy 12 – The Rangers (4-1) kept themselves tied for first in the Big 8 Conference with Union City; Quincy (3-2) faced them both over the last two weeks.

Southwest Corridor

Watervliet 52, Kalamazoo United 34

Watervliet and quarterback Zach Pickens are putting up huge offensive numbers, and the Panthers (5-0) kept their streak going of scoring at least 50 points in every game this season. This was only the opener of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley schedule, but Kalamazoo United (4-1) was a strong first test in a league loaded with them. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Coloma 41, Constantine 0 – Staying in the SAC Valley, the Comets (4-1) guaranteed their best finish since 2009 and after losing to Constantine (3-2) by scores of 68-35 and 46-0 over the last two seasons.

Hartford 39, Decatur 38 – The Indians (4-1) have doubled their wins and nearly their points scored as well from 2016 already, with downing Decatur (3-2) their best victory so far.

Three Rivers 14, Paw Paw 0 – The Wildcats (4-1) will get to affect the Wolverine B Conference race as one of four teams in first or second, while Paw Paw (3-2) will need some breaks to get back in the mix.

St. Joseph 42, Mattawan 7 – The Bears (4-1) will need help to win the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West, but can claim a win over the SMAC East-leading Wildcats (3-2). 

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone 20, Ishpeming 8

The Braves (5-0), new to the Mid-Peninsula Conference this season, clinched a share of the league title with this victory; they will face winless Iron Mountain in Week 8 with an opportunity to win the championship outright. Ishpeming scored first, but Gladstone scored the final three touchdowns of the game. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

L'Anse 20, Hurley (Wis.) 18 – The Purple Hornets (4-1) held on to a share of the lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference by downing another contender in Hurley (4-2).

Hancock 42, Calumet 24 – Staying in the West PAC, the Bulldogs (4-1) could still find their way into the title conversation after moving to 3-1 in the league by downing the Copper Kings (3-2).

Norway 28, Bark River-Harris 14 – Norway (5-0) controlled its destiny to remain in first in Mid-Eastern Conference by handing Bark River-Harris (3-2) a second league loss, then got some help (see below).

Lake Linden-Hubbell 34, Newberry 20 – Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-3) is in playoff mode already as it seeks a fifth straight postseason berth, and the Lakes started to bounce back from a slow start by handing Newberry (3-2) its first M-EC defeat. 

West Michigan

Montague 46, Whitehall 44

The West Michigan Conference has been one of the state’s most exciting the last two weeks, with Whitehall handing reigning champion Muskegon Oakridge a loss in Week 4 only to be edged Friday by Montague (5-0) – which faces Oakridge in Week 7. Whitehall (3-2) came back from 20 points down to make the 111th meeting between the teams a close finish; Montague owns a 61-48-2 edge in the series. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle (and see below for a highlight from FOX 17.)

Also noted:

Hudsonville Unity Christian 35, Comstock Park 32 – The Crusades (3-2) had opened Ottawa-Kent Conference Green play with two defeats, but may have turned things around by downing the O-K Blue co-leading Panthers (4-1).

Grandville 28, East Kentwood 14 – East Kentwood (4-1) arguably had been the most impressive O-K Red team heading into Week 5, but the Falcons will need help to get back in the title hunt as Grandville (4-1) held onto a first-place tie with Holland West Ottawa (Rockford also is without a league loss, but with one fewer game so far).

Grand Rapids Christian 48, Cedar Springs 44 – The Eagles (5-0) scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Isaac Dykema to Anthony Ladd with six seconds to play to down the Red Hawks (3-2).

Muskegon Heights Academy 36, Ludington 27 – The Tigers (3-2) hadn’t won more than two games the last two seasons and haven’t won more than three since 2011; they’ll face Muskegon Catholic Central this week with first place in the Lakes 8 Conference on the line after handing the Orioles (2-3) their third league defeat. 


Morrice 40, Flint International Academy 28

Morrice (5-0) set itself up for a matchup with undefeated Deckerville this week for first place in the North Central Thumb League Stars division. The Orioles have won all of their games by at least 12 points, but third-place International Academy (4-1) gave them their closest game and gets its chance against Deckerville in Week 7. Click for more from the Owosso Argus-Press. 

Also noted:

Onekama 54, Suttons Bay 18 – The Portagers (5-0) have won all of their games since switching to 8-player this season by at least 24 points and are tied for first in the Midwest Central Michigan Conference, while Suttons Bay (3-2) is among four teams tied for third.

Central Lake 58, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 31 – Central Lake also is a first-year 8-player team and is tied with Onekama for first in the MCMC; Tri-unity fell to 2-3 after facing the co-leaders in back-to-back weeks.

Kingston 64, Lawrence 42 – The Cardinals (3-2) tied their wins total from last season while also sending Lawrence to 3-2.

Stephenson 54, Eben Junction Superior Central 30 – The Eagles (5-0) also have won all of their games this season by 24 points, this time despite giving up a season-high 30 to the Cougars (1-4).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Portland's running game found success in its 35-6 win over Lansing Catholic on Friday. (Click for 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.)