Drive for Detroit: Week 8 in Review

October 16, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We’re chewing on a lot of football numbers this week at the MHSAA office with this season’s playoff selection just days away.

Some of the most important after Week 8 are 176 – as in the number of 11-player teams that have earned spots in that 256-team playoff field – and 78, the number of teams one win away from automatic qualification.

But this second-to-last weekend of the regular season gave us plenty of other numbers to enjoy as well. Like 431, the number of career wins and an MHSAA record for Farmington Hills Harrison coach John Herrington after his team defeated Berkley 39-0. Ionia also set an MHSAA record Friday, coming back from 32 points down at halftime to beat McBain 41-40 in the largest football comeback in MHSAA history.

How about 703, the number of running (238) and passing (465) yards combined for Essexville Garber’s Hunter Bridenbaugh in a 60-47 win over North Branch? That total, as reported by the Bay City Times, will rank third in the national record book once submitted and approved. Then there’s 616, the total passing yards for Grayling’s Justin Nicholas in a 58-46 win over Benzie Central as reported by the Traverse City Record-Eagle – which rank as the second-most passing yards in one game in MHSAA history.

Finally, 27. Congrats to Flat Rock, which clinched its first playoff berth since 1990 – 27 years ago – with a 14-7 win over New Boston Huron.

And if that’s not all … check out below the results that jumped out most from all of the statewide action in this week’s “Drive for Detroit” powered by MI Student Aid

Bay & Thumb

Algonac 34, Richmond 14

One of the best stories statewide over the last few seasons, Algonac (7-1) clinched its first outright league title since 1972 by downing second-place Richmond in the Blue Water Area Conference after splitting the championship with the Blue Devils (7-1) in 2015. It’s key to recall Algonac was 1-8 in 2014 and hadn’t had a winning season since 2005 before rattling off a combined 28-5 record over the last three. Click for more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Also noted:

Midland Dow 45, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 14 – Thanks to a one-point loss to Bay City Central in Week 2, Dow (7-1) trailed the Cavaliers (5-3) by a win in the Saginaw Valley League Red entering the conference finale before forcing a shared title.

Midland 35, Lapeer 14 – The Chemics (7-1) finished a perfect run through the SVL Blue while putting third-place Lapeer (5-3) into a must-win situation this week to guarantee a playoff spot.

Saginaw Swan Valley 36, Alma 19 – This was the final obstacle Swan Valley (7-1) needed to navigate to clinch the outright Tri-Valley Conference Central title; Alma (6-2) is one of three teams that tied for second.

Harbor Beach 26, Ubly 14 – The Pirates (7-1) came away with the Greater Thumb Conference East title by downing second-place Ubly (6-2) in their final league game of this season. 

Greater Detroit

Detroit Martin Luther King 17, Detroit Cass Tech 7

With these rivals this season in different divisions of the Detroit Public School League, King (7-1) avenged a pair of 2016 losses to the rival Technicians while holding Cass Tech (5-2) to its fewest points since 2013. But while winning this matchup frequently makes the victor the best in the PSL, King still has a tough one ahead – the Crusaders will face undefeated East English on Friday in the PSL A championship game. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Also noted:

Warren DeLaSalle 20, Detroit Catholic Central 6 – The Pilots (6-2) finished a perfect run through the Catholic League Central, earning themselves a rematch this week with DCC (5-3) this time for the Prep Bowl A-B championship.

Warren Michigan Collegiate 46, Harper Woods Chandler Park 20 – The Charter School Conference title came down to this game as both teams entered undefeated in league play; Michigan Collegiate (8-0) remains undefeated overall while Chandler Park (5-3) must win this week to guarantee a playoff spot.

Grosse Pointe North 45, Roseville 28 – The Norsemen (5-2) and Port Huron both trailed Roseville (5-3) by a win in the Macomb Area Conference Blue entering the weekend, and all three will share the league title thanks to North’s win.

Ferndale 20, Hazel Park 17 (2OT) – Ferndale (7-1) also forced a three-way championship in the Oakland Activities Association Blue, giving Hazel Park (5-3) its first league loss to create a first-place tie between these two teams and Auburn Hills Avondale. 


Haslett 20, Williamston 14

Coming off a league title-deciding loss to rival DeWitt, Haslett bounced back to move to 6-2 – two wins better than a year ago and tying their most since 2006. The Vikings’ good fortune was accompanied by more hard luck for Williamston (5-3), which has three defeats by a combined 14 points and must win this week to guarantee a playoff spot against a Lake Fenton team that hasn’t lost since opening night. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Olivet 27, Berrien Springs 17 – The Eagles (8-0) moved to within one more win of their first perfect regular season since 2005 by avenging last season’s 61-7 playoff loss to the Shamrocks (6-2).

East Lansing 9, Lansing Sexton 7 – This shouldn’t result in Sexton (5-3) not earning a playoff bid with winless Eastern up next, but it got East Lansing (6-2) into the playoffs with a more precarious game coming up against playoff hopeful Okemos.

DeWitt 33, Linden 3 – The Panthers (7-1) have won six straight recent meetings with Linden (6-2), including the first two of this string in the playoffs.

Portland 29, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 27 – In a great playoff prep game for both, Portland (7-1) survived its closest since a Week 2 loss while the Fighting Irish (6-2) have suffered their two defeats by a combined seven points. 

Northern Lower Peninsula

Lake City 35, Lincoln Alcona 34

The Highland Conference champion Trojans (8-0) moved to within one more win of their first perfect regular-season since the start of the playoff era in 1975 and after going only 2-7 a year ago. Alcona (6-2) pulled within a score of the lead multiple times and should be a dangerous playoff team – the Tigers’ losses this season are by a combined three points. Click for more from the Cadillac News.

Also noted:

Boyne City 40, Elk Rapids 10 – The Ramblers (8-0) guaranteed the Northern Michigan Football League Leaders championship will come down to this week’s matchup with undefeated Traverse City St. Francis; Elk Rapids (6-2) can still this week get to seven wins for the first time since 2010.

Gaylord St. Mary 30, Harbor Springs 0 – The Snowbirds (8-0) secured a share of the NMFL Legacy title while sending Harbor Springs (4-4) into second place and hoping for both a split title and an at-large playoff bid.

Whittemore-Prescott 42, Hillman 41 – The Cardinals’ string of 10 straight playoff seasons got additional life as the team moved to 4-4, while Hillman’s streak of 11 straight postseason trips also now will hinge on an at-large bid as the Tigers fell to 4-4.

Oscoda 36, Muskegon Heights Academy 23 – The Owls (5-3) put themselves in position to clinch not only their second playoff berth in three seasons, but also their second over the last 17; Muskegon Heights (3-5) fell out of playoff contention but still has its best record since 2014. 

Southeast & Border

Michigan Center 41, Grass Lake 14

The Cascades Conference ended with three teams sharing the championship, and Michigan Center joined Addison and Napoleon among the celebrators by downing reigning league title winner Grass Lake (4-4). The Cardinals also beat Grass Lake in 2016, but the Warriors were able to win the conference last year with that one defeat. The Cardinals (7-1) have their most wins since 2013 and one more than a year ago heading into this week’s crossover with Big 8 Conference champion Reading.

Also noted:

Adrian Lenawee Christian 21, Athens 20 (OT) – This was something of an undercard in the Southern Central Athletic Association, but key for both teams as Lenawee Christian (6-2) secured a playoff berth and forced Athens (5-3) to now beat Climax-Scotts this week if it is to make the postseason for the first time since 2000.

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 16, Detroit U-D Jesuit 14 – After falling to Dearborn Divine Child by a point in Week 7, the Fighting Irish (7-1) pulled out the close victory over a U-D Jesuit team that at 3-5 has four losses by 10 points or fewer.

Hillsdale 27, Ida 8 – The Hornets (4-4) kept themselves in the playoff hunt while dealing the Lenawee County Athletic Association race an unexpected shuffle; Ida was tied for first with Hudson and looking good to share the title, but now the Tigers can clinch it outright this week.

Ypsilanti Lincoln 23, Temperance Bedford 19 – After two straight four-win seasons and two losses to start this one, Lincoln (6-2) is headed back to the playoffs while Bedford (6-2) already had secured a second straight berth. 

Southwest Corridor

Mendon 34, Cassopolis 24

Mendon (8-0) never really went away, but is looking more and more like the dominant teams that won at least 10 games eight straight seasons from 2007-14. Beating Cassopolis (7-1) cemented that observation, as both teams were undefeated heading into the weekend and a share of the Southwest 10 Conference title was on the line. Mendon had fallen to Cassopolis the last two seasons. Even after giving up 24 points to the Rangers, the Hornets still have allowed just 45 over eight games this fall. Click for more from

Also noted:

Pittsford 28, Climax-Scotts 14 – The Wildcats (7-1) clinched the Southern Central Athletic Association title outright by breaking an 11-game losing streak, including playoffs, to the rival Panthers (6-2).

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 52, Clinton 21 – The Bobcats (8-0) clinched a share of the Tri-County Conference title while sending Clinton (5-3) from a second-place tie into third and needing a win this week to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Edwardsburg 54, Vicksburg 27 – This took the Wolverine B Conference race from three first-place teams down to two with a game to play and Edwardsburg (7-1) sure to watch closely as Vicksburg (6-2) takes on co-leader Three Rivers this week.

Watervliet 36, Schoolcraft 14 – Watervliet (8-0) secured a Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title even as second-place Schoolcraft (5-3) became the first this season to hold the Panthers to fewer than 50 points. 

Upper Peninsula

Iron River West Iron County 30, Hancock 13

For the second straight season Hancock has been a contender in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, but the Wykons (7-1) are again the team to beat. West Iron clinched the league title outright with its sixth straight win over the Bulldogs, who also tied for second in the league last season behind champion Calumet. Hancock (6-2) remains a win better than a year ago with its most victories since 2006, while West Iron can get to eight wins this week for the first time since 2014. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.

Also noted:

Kingsford 42, Menominee 21 – The Flivvers (6-1) did their part to turn this week’s meeting with Escanaba into a Great Northern Conference championship game as both are undefeated in the league; Kingsford hadn’t beaten Menominee (5-3) since 2012.

Marquette 35, Negaunee 19 – The Redmen (4-4) have a chance at an at-large playoff bid still if they can beat Menominee this weekend, and regardless have as many wins this fall as the last two seasons combined; Negaunee must beat Ishpeming Westwood this weekend to have a chance at extending its five-season playoff streak.

Norway 21, Lake Linden-Hubbell 11 – The Knights (7-1) secured a shared Mid-Eastern Conference title with Newberry; the Lakes (3-4) face winless Manistique this week with a chance still at an at-large playoff bid.

Calumet 30, Bessemer Gogebic – The Miners (3-5) had upset the playoff chances of two hopefuls two weeks in a row, but Calumet (5-3) hung on to earn a chance to clinch a spot this week. 

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 35, Grand Rapids West Catholic 33

Of course it’s rare to have a pair of reigning MHSAA champions meet with a league title on the line. And this time there even was a little revenge to be had. Last year’s Division 4 title winner GRCC (8-0) claimed its second straight game this month by seven points or fewer to clinch a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue title. The Cougars moved into the Blue last season and finished second to eventual Division 5 champion West Catholic (6-2), which handed GRCC its only loss last season. The Falcons scored late this time to pull within two, but could get no closer. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted: 

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 35, Cedar Springs 20 – The Rangers (8-0) finished a perfect run through the O-K White by handing second-place Cedar Springs (5-3) its first league loss in what also ended up Forest Hills Central’s closest league game. 

Muskegon 35, Muskegon Mona Shores 24 – Ladarius Jefferson ran 34 times for 285 yards and four touchdowns as the Big Reds (8-0) earned a share of the O-K Black title by downing rival Mona Shores (7-1) for the third time in a row.

Rockford 24, East Kentwood 10 – The Rams (5-3) have a chance to make it to the playoffs for the 23rd straight season thanks to this bounce-back win over the Falcons (5-3), who also can earn an automatic berth this week.

Wyoming Kelloggsville 27, Belding 3 – The Rockets (8-0) faced what have ended up the second, third and fourth-best teams in the O-K Silver three weeks in a row and claimed a share of the league title by knocking Belding (6-2) out of their tie for first.


Central Lake 42, Onekama 28

As noted in Friday’s preview, these two both could end up in MHSAA Finals at the Superior Dome, but Central Lake has claimed the first of their possible championships this fall with this win deciding the Midwest Central Michigan Conference title. New to 8-player this season, the Trojans (8-0) were 2-7 last season in 11-player and last won a league title in 2008. Onekama moved to 7-1 after going 6-4 in 11-player last season. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle

Also noted:

Pickford 47, Cedarville 8 – Pickford (8-0) claimed a share of the Bridge Alliance championship after finishing second last season and while dealing Cedarville (6-2) a second straight defeat.

Mayville 46, Bay City All Saints 34 – Mayville (5-3) can’t win the North Central Thumb League Stars championship, but dealt a loss to the Stripes’ co-leading Cougars (6-2).

Powers North Central 36, Rapid River 0 – Just when it looked like reigning MHSAA champion North Central (5-2) might go quietly into the offseason, the Jets stunned the state’s 8-player scene handing Western Eight Conference leader Rapid River (7-1) its first defeat a week after the Rockets handed a first loss to Stephenson.

Portland St. Patrick 24, Marion 8 – The Shamrocks (7-1) are playing in a two-team league but now also have a win over Marion (6-2), which ran the table in the West Michigan Conference.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews 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: Farmington Hills Harrison coach John Herrington enjoys the postgame fanfare with his team after setting the MHSAA record with his 431st career 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.)