Drive for Detroit: Week 9 in Review

October 25, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The MHSAA football playoffs are upon us. From 617 teams that began this season, we’re down to watching our final 272.

But before we get too far ahead, there’s plenty to review from the final week of the regular season – including a number of upsets that altered the playoff field and brackets created Sunday.

Bay & Thumb

Fenton 28, Linden 21

The Tigers (7-2) scored with three minutes to play to move past Linden (6-3) for good and claim an outright Flint Metro League championship; a Linden win would’ve created a three-way tie for the title with these two and Ortonville Brandon. Fenton has won 29 straight league games and opened this season with two nonleague losses. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Also noted:

Lapeer 24, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 14 – Carman-Ainsworth (6-3) won the Saginaw Valley League Blue and Lapeer was only second in the Red, but the Lightning (7-2) did remain undefeated in their three-year series with the Cavaliers.

Freeland 7, Frankenmuth 3 – The Tri-Valley Conference Central champion Falcons (9-0) made it three wins in two years over TVC East winner Frankenmuth (8-1), with a chance they could meet again in a Division 5 District Final.

Pinconning 20, Whittemore-Prescott 6 – The Spartans (6-3) claimed their first playoff berth since 2009, which also was their last season with a winning record; Whittemore-Prescott (5-4) did still make the postseason with an at-large bid.

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 24, New Lothrop 20 – The Cardinals (7-2) got a major boost heading into the playoffs, handing New Lothrop (8-1) its first regular-season loss since 2009.

Greater Detroit

Detroit Catholic Central 17, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 14

The last 11-player game of Michigan’s high school regular season had drama right until the end. The undefeated Shamrocks (9-0) were less than a minute from falling to St. Mary’s (5-4) in a Prep Bowl A-B Final rematch of the Detroit Catholic League Central first and second-place teams this fall. DCC scored with 21 seconds remaining for its second win over the Eaglets in three weeks after losses to them the last two seasons. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Also noted:

Bloomfield Hills 21, Lake Orion 0 – The 4-year-old Black Hawks (9-0) bounced back from 1-8 last season to win the Oakland Activities Association Blue title and make the playoffs for the first time; Lake Orion (5-4) did earn an at-large bid with four losses to teams that are a combined 27-9.

Detroit Cass Tech 41, Detroit Martin Luther King 20 – The Technicians (9-0) finished off another tremendous regular season with a second win over Martin Luther King (7-2), this time in the Public School League I final at Ford Field; Cass Tech has beaten all opponents by at least 13 points.

Detroit Denby 8, Detroit Mumford 0 – The Tars (8-1) guaranteed their best record since 2006 and claimed a PSL I/II championship by handing Mumford (7-2) its first loss since opening night. 

Dearborn Divine Child 35, Detroit Loyola 24 – The Falcons (7-2) had lost seven times to Loyola (7-2) over the last five seasons including 34-24 in Week 5, but came back to break the streak in the Catholic League Prep Bowl.


Williamston 38, Lake Fenton 35

Williamston needed to win its final regular-season game and some help to earn an at-large bid to the playoffs – but really helped itself by upsetting previously-undefeated Lake Fenton (8-1). A late defensive stand kept the Hornets (5-4) in the playoff mix, and they were selected to the field after missing at 4-5 a year ago. Lake Fenton, meanwhile still finished two wins better than 2015. Click for more from the Tri-City Times.

Also noted:

Holt 30, Grand Ledge 20 – The Rams (5-4) missed the playoffs by one spot among at-large teams from Class A, but the rebounding program can go into the offseason having handed Grand Ledge (6-1) the latter’s only loss in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue.

Ionia 35, Lake Odessa Lakewood 30 – The Bulldogs (4-5) mostly struggled in league play, but started this season with two wins and ended with two straight including this upset of longtime rival and Greater Lansing Activities Conference champion Lakewood (8-1)

Lansing Catholic 42, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 20 – The Cougars (8-1) won their fifth straight, good momentum for this week’s matchup with reigning Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic, and also might have eliminated SMCC (4-5).

Fowler 27, Merrill 14 – The Eagles (6-3) continued their string of eight straight playoff berths by holding Merrill (6-3) to its second-fewest points this season.

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City St. Francis 22, Boyne City 0

St. Francis (9-0) repeated as Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends champion with a second straight shutout and by ending a six-game winning streak by runner-up Boyne City (6-3). It was the second straight season this matchup determined the league title winner. The Gladiators have won 22 straight regular-season games. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Also noted:

Frankfort 46, Onekama 20 – The Portagers (9-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 2004 and an outright title in the NMFC Leaders by avoiding a spoiler attempt by Onekama (6-3).

Traverse City Central 49, Cadillac 6 – Central (8-1) bounced back from a Week 8 triple-overtime loss to Birmingham Brother Rice to finish a Big North Conference championship run against third-place Cadillac (6-3).  

Grayling 34, Kalkaska 27 – The Vikings (6-3) clinched a seventh playoff berth in eight seasons but only after edging the playoff-bound Blazers (6-3), who are in for the first time since 2013.

Hillman 32, Indian River Inland Lakes 29 – By the slimmest of margins, Hillman (5-4) was able to extend its playoff streak to 11 seasons, earning an at-large bid with five wins over the last six games.

Southeast & Border

Saline 38, Birmingham Groves 3

The Hornets further strengthened their status as a Division 1 championship contender, winning big in a matchup of undefeated teams. Saline (9-0) completed its second straight perfect regular season with its second-best defensive performance this fall, holding Groves (8-1) to the latter's fewest points in a game since 2013. Click for more from the Ann Arbor News.

Also noted:

Grass Lake 43, Springport 27 – The Warriors (8-1) got clipped by Michigan Center in Week 8, but came back to down Springport (7-2) in the Big 8/Cascades Conference championship game.

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 38, Clinton 12 – The Bobcats (9-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1965 and an outright Tri-County Conference title by sending fourth-place Clinton to 6-3.

Napoleon 25, Concord 20 – The Pirates (7-2) have won seven straight to guarantee their best finish since 2002, first winning season since 2006 and first playoff berth since 2005; Concord also finished the regular season 7-2.

Morenci 42, Adrian Madison 7 – The Bulldogs (6-3) have three losses by a combined eight points, but are back in the playoffs for the third straight season after ending any chance for Madison (4-5).

Southwest Corridor

Portage Central 24, St. Joseph 14

Portage Central (8-1) secured the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West championship outright after these teams shared the title in 2015. The Mustangs took a 14-0 lead late into the third quarter and extended it to 17 in the fourth before St. Joseph (6-3) added a late score. Portage Central hasn’t lost more than once during a regular season since 2012, building a record of 35-6 over the last four years.

Also noted:

Benton Harbor 54, Muskegon Heights Academy 6 – This is worth mention because it gave the Tigers (9-0) their first undefeated regular season since going 7-0-2 in 1962.

Three Rivers 14, Vicksburg 13 – The Wildcats (7-2) added to their comeback from 3-6 a year ago by just edging Vicksburg (7-2) to tie the Bulldogs for second in the Wolverine Conference.

Coldwater 31, Traverse City West 14 – The Cardinals (7-2) continued a nice run after their one-point loss in Week 6, sending West (6-3) home with a defeat.

Battle Creek Pennfield 22, Olivet 19 – Pennfield (5-4) got the needed boost from beating Olivet (5-4) to earn an at-large playoff berth after seasons of 2-7 in 2014 and 3-6 in 2015.

Upper Peninsula

St. Ignace 62, Newberry 20

The Saints (8-1) made another argument as the top 11-player title contender from the Upper Peninsula with a dominating performance against Mid-Eastern Conference runner-up Newberry (7-2). St. Ignace won the NMFC Legacy title this fall, and its only loss was to reigning Division 8 champion Muskegon Catholic Central, 21-6. Those two could meet again in a Semifinal next month. Click for more from 9&10 News.

Also noted:

Gwinn 38, Ishpeming 6 – With its first winning record since 2000, Gwinn (6-3) clinched its first playoff berth since 1999 while guaranteeing Ishpeming (3-5) wouldn’t be in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Escanaba 49, Kingsford 42 – The Eskymos (7-2) secured their best record since 2011 despite losing by a point in Week 8 and ended up locking up a home playoff game by getting past also playoff-bound Kingsford (6-3).

Felch North Dickinson 56, Bark River-Harris 24 – This is reportedly the last season of 11-player for the Nordics (6-3), but they’re going out on a high note after earning their first playoff berth since 2013 with four wins over their last five games.

Iron Mountain 28, Norway 7 – Four of six Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference teams made the playoffs, including these two both at 7-2 for the regular season.

West Michigan

Hudsonville 14, Rockford 7

The Eagles (8-1) bounced back after a Week 4 loss to Grandville to win four straight in commanding fashion and earn the opportunity to take a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red title in Week 9. Hudsonville finished the run with a late score on Rockford that created a three-way share of the championship with the Rams (6-3) and Grandville – and the Eagles also cemented home-field advantage through a District that includes both, with Rockford up again this week. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Allendale 30, Grand Rapids West Catholic 27 – Allendale’s first win over West Catholic since 2008 created a three-way championship in the O-K Blue between those two (both 7-2 overall) and Grand Rapids Catholic Central (8-1).  

Byron Center 40, Hudsonville Unity Christian 19 – The Bulldogs (8-1) finished their O-K Green title by sending Unity Christian (7-2) into a tie for second in a league that will send five of seven teams to the playoffs.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 27, Greenville 16 – Scheduling tough does matter; Forest Hills Northern (5-4) was 0-4 against teams with winning records heading into Week 9 but earned an at-large bid thanks in part to this victory over also playoff-bound Greenville (5-4).

Whitehall 37, Battle Creek Harper Creek 30 – The Vikings (6-3) came back from two straight one-point losses Weeks 6 and 7 to get into the playoffs for the third season in a row; Harper Creek (7-2) is headed back after going 3-6 last season.


Powers North Central 68, Stephenson 32

The reigning MHSAA champ Jets (9-0) finished their Western Eight Conference run and moved into the top seed in 8-player with a solid boost from beating third-place Stephenson (7-2). North Central is only a little behind the pace of its incredible numbers from a year ago – the Jets are outscoring opponents on average 69-17, and Stephenson was the first to score more than 18 since Week 3. Click for more from the Marinette EagleHerald.

Also noted:

Lawrence 22, Battle Creek St. Philip 14 – The final game to finish in 8-player over the weekend saw Lawrence (8-1) come back from two losses last season to St. Philip (5-4) to knock the reigning MHSAA runner-up out of the playoff mix.

Camden-Frontier 44, Waldron 18 – The Redskins (6-1) played their way into the playoffs after two straight 0-9 finishes by getting a key win over Waldron (4-5).

PHOTO: Holt over Grand Ledge was one of a number of upsets during Week 9 of the football regular season. (Click to see 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.)