Drive for Detroit: Week 7 in Review

October 13, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just as things are finishing up this MHSAA football regular season, plenty is getting started.

The 11-player playoff field is nearly half full with two weeks to play – 126 teams have earned automatic berths, with 66 more one win from joining them.

Two leagues – the Kensington Lakes Activities Association and Detroit Public School League – finished their league schedules over the weekend but will play one and two weeks of playoff games, respectively, to finish the regular season. The Detroit Catholic League will finish its league schedule this week in advance of its Prep Bowl games during Week 9.

And there's plenty more to come. Read on for some of the results that helped further shape the scene all over the state last week.  


The deciding game in the Capital Area Activities Conference White didn’t end up much of one after halftime. Cougars junior quarterback Tony Poljan averaged 20 yards a completion in throwing for 404 total with four touchdowns, and he also ran for a score as Lansing Catholic (7-0) broke away with a 22-0 third-quarter run. Williamston is 6-1 and has a slim chance of seeing the Cougars again in the playoffs if both fall into Division 4. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Hartland 29, Grand Blanc 26 – The Eagles (6-1) battled back from a loss in the league opener to take a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West title from co-champ Grand Blanc (5-2) in the final league game of the season.

Okemos 27, Holt 20 – The Chieftains (4-3) reached four wins for the first time since 2011 and should make the playoffs for the first time since that season with their final two opponents owning a combined two wins this fall.

Lansing Everett 38, Grand Ledge 24 – The Vikings (5-2) set themselves up to face Sexton this week with a chance to share the CAAC Blue title, while knocking third-place Grand Ledge (4-3) out of contention.

Charlotte 39, Battle Creek Pennfield 36 – A 39-yard field goal by Sy Barnett with 20 seconds to play kept Charlotte (4-3) in the hunt for a third straight playoff berth. 

Greater Detroit

Walled Lake Western 31, Walled Lake Central 14

Western, Central and Waterford Mott all split the KLAA North championship thanks to the Warriors (6-1), who earned a fourth-straight win over their local rivals. Western scored 21 unanswered second-half points to earn the opportunity to play Hartland this week for the Lakes Conference championship. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Also noted:

Berkley 32, Birmingham Groves 29 – Berkley dealt Groves (6-1) a painful blow heading into Groves' game this week against Oakland Activities Association Blue leader Farmington that could decide the league title; Berkley (6-1) will now root for Groves to win and make all three teams co-champions.

Canton 30, Plymouth 20 – Canton (6-1) outlasted the rival Wildcats (5-2) to claim the KLAA South championship for the second straight season.

Hudson 12, Ida 7 – The Tigers (6-1) avenged last season’s loss to Ida (6-1) that led to a shared Lenawee County Athletic Association title to keep pace with co-leader Hillsdale, Hudson’s Week 9 opponent.  

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 26, Lutheran Westland 6 – The Knights (6-1) finished off their fourth Michigan Independent Athletic Conference title in five seasons by defeating second-place Westland (5-2).

Bay and Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker 32, Bad Axe 30

The Lakers (7-0) needed a second-half comeback to keep their best start since 2002 alive, but also came away with a share of the Greater Thumb Conference West championship and can clinch it outright next week against 1-6 Reese. The Lakers, league runners-up to Reese last season, rode more than 300 yards rushing by Dustin Kady to edge Bad Axe (4-3) – which has already guaranteed its best finish since 2001. Click for more from The Saginaw News.

Also noted:

Goodrich 37, Lake Fenton 36 – After claiming a nail-biter over Lake Fenton (1-6), second-place Goodrich (6-1) will be rooting for Montrose this week as the Rams face Genesee Area Conference Red leader Flint Beecher in the final game on the league schedule.

Harrison 57, Beaverton 28 – Harrison (7-0) avoided a potential Jack Pine Conference spoiler in Beaverton (4-3) and now will face reigning champion Clare for the league championship.

Bay City John Glenn 33, Saginaw Nouvel 6 – The Bobcats (5-2) have more wins this fall than in 2012 and 2013 combined and need one more to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011; Nouvel has a slim postseason hope at 3-4 but will need to win out including a big win over Freeland in Week 9.

St. Clair 25, Warren Woods Tower 21 – St. Clair (6-1) knocked Woods Tower (6-1) out of a tie for first place with Marine City in the Macomb Area Conference Gold, but will root for the Titans to beat the Mariners this week and make all three teams co-champions. 

Lower Up North

Cadillac 17, Traverse City West 12

The Big North Conference was the source of most of the north's significant action this weekend, although by Sunday leader Cadillac remained atop the league standings and with a share of the championship – after its second straight win by a less than a touchdown. Cadillac (7-0) got up 17-0 in the third quarter before West (3-4) – playing to remain in the playoff hunt – took advantage of Vikings turnovers to pull within striking distance. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted:

Traverse City Central 14, Alpena 7 (OT) – Central (5-2) kept its shared Big North Conference title hopes alive by a sliver, edging Alpena (3-4) to remain one win back with Cadillac coming up in Week 9.

Gaylord 49, Petoskey 42 – The Blue Devils (5-2) scored twice during the fourth quarter to ruin Petoskey’s chances at remaining in Big North contention while inching closer to a first playoff berth since 2007; Petoskey (5-2) can earn a return to the postseason for the first time since 2011 against Alpena this week.

Manton 30, Leroy Pine River 27 – The Rangers may be out of the Highland Conference title chase, but they secured their best record since 2005 and need one more win for a first playoff berth since 1994; Pine River (4-3) has its best record since 2007 and by winning out can make the postseason for the first time since 2005.

Elk Rapids 70, Grayling 26 – The Elks (4-3) remain alive for the playoffs although they’ll next face undefeated Boyne City; at 3-4, Grayling will need help to grab an at-large bid. 

West Michigan

Cedar Springs 14, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 8

Most of Cedar Springs’ last 15 seasons have ended in the 4 to 6-win range with a hint of league title contention on occasion. But this one is shaking up as special for the Red Hawks (6-1), who sit alone atop the Ottawa-Kent Conference Bronze after sending Forest Hills Northern (6-1) into a second place tie with Grand Rapids Northview. Cedar Springs can clinch a share of the league title next week against Greenville (4-3) or in Week 9 vs. Forest Hills Eastern (3-4). Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

East Kentwood 35, Hudsonville 28 – The Falcons (6-1) scored with less than two minutes to play to remain a game behind Rockford in the O-K Red and drop Hudsonville (4-3) out of title contention.

Rockford 27, Grand Haven 21 (OT) – The Rams (6-1) needed overtime against a Grand Haven (3-4) team trying to stay alive for the postseason and now playing for an at-large bid.

Grandville 54, Holland West Ottawa 14 – Grandville (3-4) kept a small playoff hope alive by winning big over former O-K Red co-leader West Ottawa (5-2).

Muskegon Oakridge 50, Whitehall 22 – Oakridge (6-1) regained a share of the West Michigan Conference title and can clinch outright this week; Whitehall (6-1), now tied for second with Ravenna, needs Mason County Central to come through with an upset. 

Upper Peninsula

Marquette 35, Constantine 10

Even at 5-1 entering last weekend, Marquette’s chances of extending its playoff streak to five seasons looked a tad shaky – Constantine was 6-0, and together the Redmen’s final three regular-season opponents were 16-3. But Marquette held Constantine to its fewest points this season (by 21) and tied its biggest offensive output to remain undefeated since falling to Traverse City Central on opening night. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Also noted:

Ishpeming 28, Negaunee 0 – The Hematites earned a share of their second straight Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference title and haven’t given up a point since Week 4; Negaunee (4-3) faces two more tough opponents as it works to earn a playoff berth.  

Munising 42, Bark River-Harris 0 – The Mustangs (6-1) secured a share of the Mid-Eastern Football Conference title by dominating second-place Bark River-Harris (5-2); Munising also hasn’t given up a point since Week 4.

Kingsford 10, Iron Mountain 0 – Kingsford’s at-large playoff bid hope got stronger as the Flivvers (3-4) shut out the Mountaineers (4-3), who are second in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference.

Powers North Central 48, Felch North Dickinson 44 – North Central’s playoff hopes are slim at 2-4, but beating North Dickinson (3-4) for the first time since 1993 is a nice consolation. 

Southwest and Border

Plainwell 34, Three Rivers 28

It seems like most of Plainwell’s games this season have been among the best of the southwest – and the Trojans (6-1) are now one more win from locking up a share of the Wolverine B Conference East title. They ran Three Rivers (4-3) into second place on the legs of Jacob Geter, who rushed for 316 yards on 50 carries. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Also noted:

Saugatuck 26, Fennville 20 – The Indians (5-2) kept pace atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference North with Week 9 opponent Gobles while dropping Fennville (4-3) into third.

Bridgman 62, Centreville 7 – The Bees (5-1) are inaugural champs of the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Blue and have scored at least 40 points in all but one victory.

Niles 27, St. Joseph 21 – The Vikings (5-2) locked up their best record since 2003 by beating St. Joseph (4-3) for the first time since 2005.

Union City 41, Reading 34 – The Chargers (7-0) guaranteed themselves a share of the Big 8 Conference title with second-place Homer the only league opponent remaining; Reading (3-4) will hope to win out and earn an at-large playoff bid after losing its second straight game. 


Kingston 64, Owendale-Gagetown 34

Kingston quarterback – and MHSAA Student Advisory Council senior – Aaron Van Horn carried his team back into the playoff hunt with three touchdown passes and two touchdown runs as the Cardinals handed Owendale-Gagetown (6-1) its first loss. Kingston is 4-3 and faces opponents who are a combined 4-10 to finish the regular season. Click for more from The Saginaw News

Also noted: 

Big Rapids Crossroads 21, Akron-Fairgrove 20 – The Cougars have won three straight since opening 0-4 against four teams still undefeated; they look good to make the playoffs with two winnable games left. 

Bellaire 38, Engadine 6 – The Eagles (7-0) may not get mentioned as much as other favorites Cedarville and Rapid River, but are lined up perfectly to make a run at the Bridge Football Alliance title with those two up next over the next two weeks; Engadine (3-4) is hanging on to the 16th spot in the playoff field. 

PHOTO: Lansing Catholic's Zac Baker was among recipients of quarterback Tony Poljan's 20 completions Friday as the Cougars defeated Williamston. (Photo courtesy of the Lansing State Journal.)

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.)