Drive for Detroit: Week 8 Preview
October 17, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
How much should fans enjoy the final two weeks of this football regular season?
There are 93 leagues for the sport statewide, and 35 championships remain completely up for grabs. Another 35 leagues have had one team clinch a share of the title but still have the possibility for another to join the celebration.
And the playoff picture is similarly a slightly-filled canvas. A total of 346 teams (out of 531 total) remain eligible for at least an additional qualifier berth in the 256-team 11-player field. A total of 110 teams have secured their spots – but 86 more teams can clinch with a win this week.
On the 8-player side, the 32 playoff spots will remain in flux through Week 9 – and it looks like up to 55 teams still have a chance to make that field.
Below again is a look at many games that will tilt these numbers this weekend. The MHSAA.tv live streaming schedule includes 33 games – click for the full listing and links to each game. All games below are Friday unless noted.
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Bay & Thumb
Marine City (7-0) at Marysville (5-2)
The Mariners handed St. Clair its lone league loss last week to earn a share of the Macomb Area Conference Silver title, and will finish the league schedule against the other team tied for second in Marysville. If the Vikings are able to break a two-game losing streak in this series, it will create a three-way shared Silver championship. But they will have to crack a Marine City defense giving up just 8.4 points per game.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Fenton (6-1) at Goodrich (6-1), Flint Powers Catholic (5-2) at Grand Blanc (5-2), Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (5-2) at Lapeer (6-1), Montrose (6-1) at Byron (5-2).
Romeo (6-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (7-0)
For the second straight season, Chippewa Valley enters this Macomb Area Conference Red finale with a perfect record and Romeo has a chance to break up the league title with a win. The Bulldogs and Utica Eisenhower are tied for second, one game behind the Big Reds, and Romeo fell only 41-34 last season in giving Chippewa Valley one of the toughest games of its undefeated Division 1 championship run.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Royal Oak Shrine (6-1) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (6-0), Clawson (4-3) at Clinton Township Clintondale (5-2), Farmington (7-0) at North Farmington (7-0), Belleville (7-0) at Livonia Franklin (6-1), Detroit Catholic Central (4-3) at River Rouge (6-1).
Fowler (7-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (7-0)
This season has been a little unfair to the Eagles, and be sure they’ll use that as motivation tonight. It’s hard to not talk about Pewamo-Westphalia – a lot – when the Pirates are outscoring their opponents by a combined 312-14 with five shutouts, including one over reigning Division 8 champion Reading (which is otherwise averaging 52 points per game). But a few miles over from that all-out domination, rival Fowler is outscoring its opponents 295-70, giving up more than 13 points in a game just once, and with a chance to take the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title outright if they get past the rival Pirates for the first time since 2014.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Portland (7-0) at Mason (7-0), St. Joseph (6-1) at DeWitt (5-2), Fowlerville (6-1) at Lansing Catholic (6-1), Olivet (7-0) at Williamston (4-3).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Maple City Glen Lake (6-1) at Charlevoix (5-2)
The leaders of the Northern Michigan Football League Leaders division will meet for the outright championship tonight. A win would give Glen Lake its third straight league title, and of course it would be celebrated – especially bouncing back from last week’s loss to Kingsley. But a win for Charlevoix would be historic; the Rayders not only would clinch a first playoff berth since 2016, but the league title would be the program’s first since 1987 and after a number of runner-up finishes over the years. Glen Lake has won the last six meetings between these teams, including three over the last three years in NMFL play.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Breckenridge (6-1) at Oscoda (7-0), Beal City (7-0) at McBain (4-3), Johannesburg-Lewiston (7-0) at Frankfort (3-4), Ogemaw Heights (5-2) at Grayling (3-4).
Southeast & Border
Milan (7-0) at Carleton Airport (5-2)
Milan claimed a share of the Huron League championship last week. And although third-place Airport can’t win a share as well whatever happens tonight, second-place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central surely is cheering the Jets on. Milan has won the last eight against Airport, including once in the playoffs, but four of those games were decided by eight or fewer points – including last season’s when the Big Reds won 35-30.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ann Arbor Pioneer (4-3) at Saline (6-1), Manchester (5-2) at Grass Lake (6-1), Britton Deerfield (4-3) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (4-3), Jackson (5-2) at Pinckney (5-2).
Kalamazoo United (4-3) at Constantine (5-2)
As we consider what United will try to accomplish over the next two weeks – defeating Constantine and then unbeaten Schoolcraft to earn a third-straight playoff berth and repeat as Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley champion – it’s important to keep in mind the Titans’ start this fall. They began 0-3 – but the first loss was by two to still-unbeaten Jackson Lumen Christi, and the third defeat by just nine to still-undefeated Berrien Springs. Constantine is in a similar place, however – its losses to Berrien Springs and Schoolcraft were by a combined eight points.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Muskegon Catholic Central (4-2) at Benton Harbor (4-3), Parma Western (5-2) at Marshall (4-3), White Pigeon (6-1) at Mendon (6-1), Dowagiac (4-3) at Vicksburg (5-2).
Traverse City Central (6-1) at Escanaba (6-1)
The Eskymos’ chances of getting some help to climb back into the Great Northern Conference title race are getting slimmer by the week as a three-point Week 4 loss to Marquette still stands as the lone decider for first in that league. But Escanaba can continue to gear up for the playoffs and a run at a fourth-straight District title, and playing much larger Central is a great way to get ready. The Trojans have clinched a share of the Big North Conference title and haven’t lost since Week 1. Interestingly, their six-game winning streak started against Marquette – and they’d surely love to go 2-0 against the GNC’s best after falling to Escanaba by 17 a year ago.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Hancock (4-3) at Calumet (6-1), Iron Mountain (7-0) at L’Anse (4-3), Kingsford (4-3) at Menominee (4-3), Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3) at Bark River-Harris (5-2).
Muskegon (7-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (6-1)
Championships could be decided all over the Ottawa-Kent Conference this weekend, but this annual matchup in the Black always is one of the most-hyped games in the state and again deserves lots of attention after both teams reached Ford Field last season. Since falling in the 2018 Division 3 Final, Muskegon has been challenged only by East Grand Rapids in a five-point Week 3 win. The reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors fell to still-unbeaten Rockford by 13 in Week 4 but otherwise have won all of their games by at least 20 points. The Big Reds have won the last four in this series, and regardless of the outcome this latest chapter will be entertaining – the total points scored has increased every game over the last four, with Muskegon winning 55-35 in 2018.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Rockford (7-0) at Grandville (6-1), Ravenna (6-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (7-0), Grand Rapids Christian (5-2) at East Grand Rapids (5-2), Byron Center (7-0) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-2) at Hope College.
Deckerville (7-0) at Kingston (6-1)
A share of the North Central Thumb League Blue championship goes to the victor, and in Deckerville’s case would guarantee a fourth consecutive league title. Two of the last five years this matchup determined the league champion, and a third time Kingston defeated Morrice to help Deckerville take back a share of first place after falling to the Orioles a week earlier in 2017. The Eagles have won all 12 against the Cardinals since the teams began playing each other regularly in 2010, including a pair of victories last season as they also met in the playoffs.
Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Burr Oak (5-2) at Climax-Scotts (6-1), Onekama (5-2) at Suttons Bay (7-0). SATURDAY Morrice (7-0) vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-2) at Pickford, Mio (7-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (2-5).
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PHOTO: Mason works the ground game during a 21-14 league title-deciding win over Fowlerville on Oct. 4. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)
For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times
By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com
March 17, 2023
Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.
Last 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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
“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 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 email@example.com 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.)