Drive for Detroit: Week 7 in Review

October 12, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Every game night provides the opportunity for teams and athletes to make history. From 11-player to 8, Week 7 saw its share of those moments. 

In last week's preview, we noted at least 20 leagues with games that had immediate championship implications. As we now review, we touch on a number of those below. 

Bay & Thumb

Algonac 21, Almont 7

Algonac continued its history-making run, clinching a share of the Blue Water Area Conference title, its first league championship since 1972. The Muskrats (7-0), also celebrating a first winning season and playoff berth since 2005, grabbed the title share against an Almont team that had won 17 straight league games and hadn’t been held to single-digit scoring since Week 3 of 2012. Almont (6-1) is now tied for second place with Richmond, Algonac’s opponent this week. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.

Also noted:

Vassar 36, Unionville-Sebewaing 24 – The Vulcans (6-1) clinched a share of the Greater Thumb Conference West title by outlasting second-place USA (5-2) and moved to 8-0 against the Patriots since they’ve been in the same league.

Marysville 48, Sterling Heights 21 – The Vikings (5-2) turned the Macomb Area Conference Gold race into a three-team battle with a league game to play by handing Sterling Heights (5-2) its first league loss; those two are tied with Marine City for first place.

Lapeer 49, Midland 21 – The Lightning (7-0) remains perfect for the regular season over its two-year history and earned a share of the Saginaw Valley League Red title by downing the second-place Chemics (6-1).

Sanford Meridian 30, Harrison 8 – The Mustangs (7-0) can clinch a share of the Jack Pine Conference title this week now that they’ve beaten both second-place teams, Clare and Harrison (5-2). 

Greater Detroit

Plymouth 31, Canton 20

Plymouth broke a two-game losing streak to the rival Chiefs (5-2) to close out an outright championship in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association South, and after trailing Canton 20-10 at halftime. This was the eighth straight game between the two decided by 12 points or fewer, and earned Plymouth (6-1) the opportunity to host Northville in this week’s KLAA Kensington title game. Click for more from Observer & Eccentric.

Also noted:

Farmington Hills Harrison 13, Farmington 12 – Harrison (6-1) edged one neighbor, Farmington (4-3), to earn a share of the Oakland Activities Association White title, and can finish the run against another, North Farmington, this week.

Birmingham Groves 47, Berkley 14 – A 6-0 start for Groves last season turned into a 1-4 finish beginning with a three-point loss to Berkley (5-2), but the 2015 meeting was all Groves (7-0) as it earned a share of the OAA Blue title. 

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 14, Detroit Catholic Central 7 – The Shamrocks (5-2) and Warren DeLaSalle meet this week to figure out the rest, but those two and St. Mary’s (6-1) are all in the Prep Bowl mix.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 33, River Rouge 30 – Notre Dame Prep’s bounce-back from 3-6 last season to 6-1 this fall has included four wins by seven points or fewer including this one over previously-undefeated River Rouge (6-1). 


Brighton 14, Howell 11

These KLAA West rivals both played without key contributors and traded their share of momentum-stopping fumbles and interceptions before Brighton (6-1) closed out the win to earn a share of the division championship. The teams have split their last six games. Brighton also clinched a playoff spot, and Howell (5-2) remains alive for what would be a first playoff berth since 2012. Click for more from the Livingston Daily.

Also noted:

Hartland 30, Grand Blanc 27 (OT) – The Eagles (5-2) earned the other share of the KLAA West title by outlasting last season’s champion, Grand Blanc (4-3), and thanks to a win over Brighton two weeks ago also will play for the Lakes Conference title.

DeWitt 49, St. Johns 21 – It’s time to stop talking about DeWitt (7-0) being inexperienced and under the radar after it clinched an outright Capital Area Activities Conference Red title over three others still alive for playoff berths, including the Redwings (5-2).

East Lansing 14, Lansing Sexton 8 – The Trojans (4-3) are staying alive for the playoffs after going 1-8 only a year ago, although they face undefeated Grand Ledge next; Sexton (1-6) suffered its fifth loss by eight points or fewer.          

Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 48, Vestaburg 7 – The Irish’s win-out campaign to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start now includes claiming a share of the Mid-State Activities Conference title with this win over second-place Vestaburg (5-2) that put Sacred Heart at 4-3 overall.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Frankfort 27, Harbor Springs 7

The Panthers quietly are putting up one of the most impressive defensive stands in the state this fall. Since giving up 10 points on opening night in a four-point loss to Maple City Glen Lake, Frankfort (6-1) hasn’t given up more than one score in a game and 32 more points total. This win allowed the Panthers to equal their total for all of last season and got them within another of clinching the Northern Michigan Football League Legends title, while dropping fourth-place Harbor Springs to 4-3. Click for more from the Benzie County Record Patriot.

Also noted:

McBain 34, Lake City 13 – McBain (5-2) closed out a share of the Highland Conference championship with Beal City by downing third-place Lake City (3-4)

Whittemore-Prescott 30, Rogers City 22 – The Cardinals (4-3) are North Star Big Dipper champions for the second straight season but must beat Little Dipper champ Hillman this week to keep on track for an automatic playoff berth.

Hillman 46, Oscoda 39 – The Tigers (6-1) just survived Oscoda (4-3) to earn a playoff appearance for the 10th straight season.

Johannesburg-Lewiston 48, Lincoln Alcona 22 – Another impressive run continues for Johannesburg-Lewiston, which downed Alcona (5-2) thanks to two touchdown runs and 225 yards (plus 17 tackles) by Logan Huff and four scoring runs by cousin Brandon Huff. 

Southeast & Border

Ypsilanti Community 34, Chelsea 24

The third-year Ypsilanti Community program, which emerged from the former Ypsilanti High, has beaten Chelsea all three times the teams have met – although this might be the best win in the young Grizzlies’ history. After opening 0-3 this fall, Community has won four straight and with this victory clinched a shared Southeastern Conference White championship with the Bulldogs (6-1). Click for more from

Also noted:

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 41, Milan 14 – The Falcons (7-0) clinched a share of the Huron League by winning this matchup of first-place teams, with Milan (5-2) needing help from Monroe Jefferson this week to also earn a share.

Homer 44, Quincy 18 – This win, combined with Concord’s overtime loss to Springport, gave Homer (6-1) the outright championship in the Big 8 Conference.

Saline 28, Monroe 0 – The Hornets (7-0) closed out an outright title in the Southeastern Conference Red while pushing Monroe (3-4) into the pool of those hoping to make the playoffs with an at-large bid.

Ottawa Lake-Whiteford 34, Morenci 6 – The Bobcats (6-1) nearly reversed last season’s 49-0 loss to Morenci (5-2) to move into second place in the Tri-County Conference with first-place Clinton coming up in Week 9. 

Southwest Corridor

Benton Harbor 10, Stevensville Lakeshore 7 (OT)

Benton Harbor (4-3) can’t win the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West title and is tied for third place. But many statewide eyes have turned toward the Tigers, who are in pursuit of their first playoff berth and went 0-18 over the last two seasons – and 4-68 over the last eight. Benton Harbor held Lakeshore (4-3) scoreless to start overtime, then won on a 22-yard field goal. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.

Also noted:

Mattawan 21, Battle Creek Central 18 – This turned the SMAC East into a three-team battle with one league game left to play; Mattawan, Central and Battle Creek Lakeview all are tied for first and none play each other the rest of the way.

Watervliet 56, Delton Kellogg 35 – The Panthers (6-1) won this matchup of first-place teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore and earned an outright title; Delton (5-2) now must beat an undefeated team over the next two weeks to earn a first playoff berth since 2001.

Dowagiac 16, Sturgis 7 – The Chieftains (4-3) gave Wolverine B Conference leader Edwardsburg a hand, handing second-place Sturgis (5-2) a second loss that resulted in the Eddies gaining a share of the league title.

Schoolcraft 41, Gobles 12 – The Eagles (7-0) are enjoying their move to the new SAC Central; they earned the title outright with this win and gave up a total of 30 points over five league games. Gobles (4-3) was one of two opponents to put up more than one score. 

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming 22, Negaunee 16

The numbers got more incredible for Ishpeming: 38 wins over its last 39 regular-season games, three straight Mid-Peninsula Conference titles and only 49 points given up in six games this fall. The Hematites (6-0) earned a share of the league title and ended Negaunee’s final drive with an interception to run their latest string of success against the Miners (6-1) to six wins in their last seven meetings.

Also noted:

Kingsford 14, Iron Mountain 12 – The Flivvers (5-2) moved a win closer to returning to the playoffs after missing last season, while Iron Mountain (4-3) must now win out to ensure a second straight bid.

Calumet 34, L’Anse 14 – The Copper Kings (5-2) guaranteed a share of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference title for the second time in four seasons by downing second-place L’Anse (4-3).

Munising 19, Bark River-Harris 12 – Munising (6-1) must beat Crystal Falls Forest Park this week to guarantee a piece of the Mid-Eastern Conference title, but earned the opportunity by handing Bark River-Harris (5-2) its second straight loss.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 46, Houghton 34 – The Lakes (7-0) continue to cruise, with this win equaling last season’s total and setting the team up to earn its best finish since 2010 with another victory.  

West Michigan

Grand Rapids West Catholic 42, Comstock Park 35

This didn’t clinch the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue for West Catholic (5-2), but it did give the Falcons a one-win lead and victories over both second-place teams, Comstock Park (5-2) and Allendale. West Catholic trailed by two touchdowns during the first half and then withstood a fourth-quarter blitz by the Panthers. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

East Kentwood 30, Rockford 29 – After two straight losses, the Falcons (5-2) bounced back to stay out of must-win territory while forcing Rockford (4-3) to win out to guarantee extending a 20-year playoff streak.

Caledonia 52, Grand Rapids Christian 31 – Considering the Fighting Scots (3-4) have lost to East Grand Rapids, Muskegon Mona Shores, Rockford and Lowell, beating Grand Rapids Christian (4-3) seems like less of an upset.

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 47, Wyoming Godwin Heights 6 – The Mustangs (7-0) earned a share of the O-K Silver title after finishing second each of the last two seasons, while sending Godwin Heights (4-3) into second place after the two entered tied for first.

Hesperia 47, Lakeview 20 – Hesperia’s best season since 2002 now includes a Central State Activities Association Silver championship and first winning record since 2007, and after the team finished just 1-8 a year ago; a win by Lakeview (4-3) would’ve split the title three ways.


Stephenson 76, Rapid River 38

Suddenly it’s Stephenson (5-2), not Rapid River (5-2), that stands as Powers North Central’s top competition in the Western Upper Peninsula Conference. Eight-player football appears to be to the Eagles’ liking; they finished 1-8 a year ago in 11-player and appear to be reclaiming the success they enjoyed in the former format during the 1990s and 2000s. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.

Also noted:

Battle Creek St. Philip 55, Waldron 16 – The Tigers (7-0) have won three straight Southern Michigan League Titles and every league game since falling to Waldron (6-1) in 2012.

Cedarville 29, Bellaire 28 – A week after falling by two to Posen, Cedarville (5-2) bounced back to edge rival Bellaire (4-3) in Bridge Alliance play. 

PHOTO: DeWitt defenders swarm a St. Johns ball-carrier during Friday's league title-clinching victory. (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.)