Drive for Detroit: Week 8 in Review

October 17, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

On one hand, this weekend was the second-to-last of a football regular season that seemed this fall to roll by as quickly as ever.

On the other, this weekend was just the start of the second half of the 14-week Michigan high school football season that finishes up in six weeks at Ford Field – and 174 teams have clinched opportunities to continue on the hunt for an MHSAA title.

This annually is one of the most important weeks of the season; more than 600 teams finish up regular-season play, and Sunday we'll announce the 256-team 11-player playoff field and 16 teams that will advance in 8-player. We'll talk about that more as this week goes on. But we'll start with the highlights of all that was Week 8 below.

Bay & Thumb

Flint Carman-Ainsworth 34, Midland Dow 27

The Cavaliers (6-2) bounced back from a 1-2 start to go undefeated in winning the Saginaw Valley League Blue title, but had to beat co-leader Dow in the final game to finish the run. Carman-Ainsworth last won a league title in 2013, but had finished fifth and then fourth in the SVL Red over the last two seasons while Dow was hoping for a third straight Blue title. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Richmond 28, Algonac 13 – For the second straight season, this matchup decided at least partially the Blue Water Area Conference title; for the second straight season, Richmond (7-1) beat Algonac (7-1), this time to win the league outright.

Bay City Central 17, Saginaw Heritage 14 – The Wolves (5-3) held on against the Hawks (3-5) to edge closer to a first playoff berth since 2007, and can clinch a spot this week against rival Bay City Western.

Ubly 54, Harbor Beach 12 – The Bearcats (8-0) won the Greater Thumb Conference East title outright while guaranteeing their best season finish since 2010 and sending Harbor Beach to 4-4.

Marysville 28, St. Clair 27 – The Macomb Area Conference Gold champion Vikings (8-0) guaranteed their best record since 2011 and have a chance to go 9-0 for the first time since 2003 after just edging St. Clair (4-4). 

Greater Detroit

Utica Eisenhower 38, Warren Mott 6

The Eagles (8-0) couldn’t clinch the Macomb Area Conference Red title outright until this final league game, but did so comfortably after jumping out to a 24-0 lead. Five of six teams in the league are still alive for playoff berths – Eisenhower and Mott (6-2) have clinched, and Romeo, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Macomb Dakota can get in with wins this week – which makes Eisenhower’s first league title since 2011 all the more impressive. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

Also noted:

Birmingham Brother Rice 20, Traverse City Central 17 (3OT) – The Warriors (5-3) kept themselves alive to return to the playoffs by handing Central (7-1) its first loss with a marathon effort.

Dearborn 28, Dearborn Fordson 23 – This matchup of neighborly rivals also ended up as a matchup of Western Wayne Athletic Conference divisional champs; Dearborn (7-1) broke a three-game losing streak against the Tractors (7-1).

Clarkston 45, Lake Orion 16 – Despite a Week 2 overtime loss to Southfield Arts & Technology, Clarkston (6-2) stormed back to earn a share of the Oakland Activities Association Red title in part because Lake Orion (5-3) handed the Warriors a league loss in Week 5.

Warren Michigan Collegiate 34, Harper Woods Chandler Park 22 – The Cougars (7-1) clinched the Charter School Conference championship for the first time since 2011 as these two met to decide the league title for the third straight year; Chandler Park (5-3) has the week off but will make the playoffs with five wins in eight games. 


Grand Ledge 31, East Lansing 28

The Comets (7-1) jumped to an early lead and saw four players score as they stayed just ahead of East Lansing to clinch the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title outright for the second straight season. East Lansing (5-3) had fallen to Jackson in its league opener but had a chance to create a shared championship with a victory. Grand Ledge’s only loss this season was on opening night, by seven, to Hudsonville. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Clare 31, Beaverton 14 – The Pioneers (7-1) earned a share of their ninth Jack Pine Conference championship in 10 seasons while putting the Beavers (5-3) in a must-win situation this week.

Fowlerville 30, Corunna 15 – The Gladiators (6-2) secured their first playoff berth since 2010, also the last season they won at least six games; Corunna fell to 6-2 as well but had already clinched a spot.

DeWitt 48, Menominee 14 – In a battle of annual Ford Field hopefuls, DeWitt (7-1) became the first this season to hold the Maroons (7-1) to fewer than 28 points.

Brighton 41, Howell 20 – The Bulldogs (7-1) staved off the Highlanders (5-3) to win the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West outright and earn this week’s Lakes final berth against Walled Lake Western. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Frankfort 28, Charlevoix 0

The Panthers (8-0) repeated at Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends division champions with their second straight shutout and third this season. They earned a share and can clinch outright this week against Onekama. The win also extended Frankfort’s best start since 2004, the last time the team finished a perfect regular season. Charlevoix (6-2) still can finish with its most wins since 2006 with another this week against Mesick. Click for more from 9&10 News.

Also noted:

Johannesburg-Lewiston 30, East Jordan 28 – The Cardinals (4-4) kept themselves in the hunt for a sixth straight playoff berth while also forcing East Jordan (4-4) into hoping for an at-large bid.

Harbor Springs 38, Gaylord St. Mary 24 – In what could be considered an upset, Harbor Springs (4-4) actually moved past St. Mary (6-2) in the NMFC Legacy standings with a third straight win.

Cadillac 26, Manistee 22 – With one-loss Traverse City Central and a shot at a share of the Big North Conference title up this week, Cadillac (6-2) was wise to get playoff qualification out of the way with a close win over Manistee (4-4).

Whittemore-Prescott 14, Hillman 0 – The Cardinals (5-3) kept themselves alive for an automatic berth to their 10th straight playoffs, but Hillman (4-4) will need a win and some help to qualify for the 11th straight season.

Southeast & Border

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 48, Sand Creek 20

Whiteford (8-0) closed out its first perfect run through the Tri-County Conference since joining the league in 1975 and set itself up for its first perfect regular season since 1965. The Bobcats have won five straight over Sand Creek, which still is enjoying its best season since 2005. Click for more from the Toledo Blade. 

Also noted:

Brooklyn Columbia Central 28, Dundee 26 – The Golden Eagles (6-2) clinched back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in program history while eliminating Dundee (3-5) from postseason consideration.

Ida 52, Hillsdale 13 – The Bluestreaks (7-1) came up big against a dangerous opponent in Hillsdale (4-4) to remain tied for first with Hudson in the Lenawee County Athletic Association with a game to play.

Monroe Jefferson 20, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14 – The Bears (4-4) guaranteed their best finish since 2011 and gave themselves a chance at making the playoffs for the first time since 2006 while also putting the Falcons (4-4) in a tougher spot as they go for a 13th berth in 14 seasons.

Michigan Center 24, Grass Lake 22 – In arguably the night’s biggest upset statewide, Michigan Center (5-3) gave itself a chance to earn a playoff berth this week and gave Napoleon a share of the Cascades Conference title by dealing co-champion Grass Lake (7-1) its first loss.

Southwest Corridor

Berrien Springs 33, Buchanan 27 (OT)

A two-point loss to Buchanan kept Berrien Springs from winning the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph White title last season, but the Shamrocks finished the run this time after coming back from nine down in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Berrien Springs (5-2) also clinched a playoff berth because it has an eight-game schedule; Buchanan (4-3) also is playing eight games and must beat Niles Brandywine this week to get in automatically. Click for more from the South Bend Tribune.

Also noted:

Battle Creek Harper Creek 21, Marshall 20 – The Beavers (7-1) bounced back from their only loss to just edge Marshall (4-4) and keep a share of the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference championship, with Jackson Lumen Christi securing the other half.

Benton Harbor 47, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 21 – The Tigers (8-1) tied their highest win total since 1985 in sending Notre Dame Prep to 4-4.

Schoolcraft 20, Constantine 10 – The Eagles (8-0) got by far their best game of the season from the old rival Falcons (5-3) in a matchup of Southwestern Athletic Conference divisional champions.

Edwardsburg 38, Three Rivers 0 – Make that 28 straight Wolverine Conference wins, four straight league titles (after clinching a share), and three straight shutouts for Edwardsburg (8-0), which has beaten Three Rivers (6-2) in five straight.

Upper Peninsula

Norway 25, Gwinn 2

Norway will need help to claim a share of the Mid-Peninsula Conference title – leader Negaunee can clinch outright this week against two-win Ishpeming Westwood. But the Knights (7-1) have equaled their most victories since 2010 and with another will guarantee their best finish since 2006. Gwinn (5-3) must beat Ishpeming this week to clinch a first playoff berth since 1999. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Iron River West Iron County 34, Hancock 7 – The Wykons (5-3) remain alive for an automatic berth with L’Anse (2-6) up next; Hancock (4-4) lost that automatic berth chance and must beat rival Houghton (3-5) this week to have an at-large shot.

St. Ignace 24, Ishpeming 16 – The Saints (7-1) avenged last season’s six-point loss to the Hematites (3-4), who must win this week to have a chance at extending their 14-season playoff streak.

Lake Linden-Hubbell 24, Felch North Dickinson 6 – The Broncos (8-0) clinched a share of the Mid-Eastern Conference title and sent North Dickinson (5-3) out of second place and into a must-win situation.

Kingsford 43, Gladstone 14 – The Flivvers (6-2) clinched their second straight playoff berth and fourth in five seasons while knocking Gladstone (3-5) out of consideration.

West Michigan

Muskegon Oakridge 31, Montague 28

Oakridge is another that enjoyed revenge and a league title celebration Friday. The Eagles (8-0) dominated the West Michigan Conference last season before losing to Montague (6-2) by seven in the final league game and finishing second to the Wildcats. This time, Oakridge hung on by scoring the final 17 points including the winning field goal with 25 seconds to play to claim the championship outright. Click for more from the Local Sports Journal.

Also noted:

Byron Center 62, Zeeland East 14 – One of the most competitive league races in all of Michigan will go at least in part to Byron Center(7-1), which clinched a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green title while sending East (6-2) into a tie for third.

Grand Rapids West Catholic 20, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 3 – By many accounts, this was closer than the score indicates; West Catholic now owns a share of the O-K Blue title and has given up only 17 points over five league games after holding GRCC (7-1) 18 below its previous season low.

Lowell 41, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 34 – The comeback Red Arrows (8-0) were down 11 this time before coming back to clinch the O-K White championship and send Forest Hills Northern to 4-4.

Wyoming 20, Greenville 13 – The Wolves (5-3) pulled to within a win of clinching the first playoff berth in the program’s five-year history and kept Greenville (5-3) from clinching as well.


Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 8, Fife Lake Forest Area 6

Tri-unity (8-0) assuredly will make the MHSAA playoffs for the first time – the Defenders have the second-highest playoff point average in 8-player. This win also gave them the Midwest Central Conference championship outright over second-place Fife Lake Forest Area (6-2), which is now playing for one of the final spots in the postseason field. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted:

Powers North Central 76, Rapid River 18 – Well, the reigning champion Jets look ready for the playoffs with three straight games with more than 75 points, although Rapid River (5-3) did score more than any opponent had since Sept. 9.

Pickford 44, Cedarville 14 – The first-season 8-player Panthers (7-1) handed Cedarville (6-2) the latter’s second straight loss to move into second in the Bridge Alliance.

Webberville 46, Morrice 14 – The Spartans (6-2) battled through a heart-wrenching Friday to win a key game that may have cemented their spot in the playoff field.

PHOTO: Muskegon Oakridge players celebrate during Friday's West Michigan Conference title-clinching win over Montague. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

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.)