A Game for Every Fan: Week 1

August 23, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A few scenarios remain unique to high school football’s opening weekend, the newest of which begins again tonight all over Michigan.

If the casual fan with no ties to a particular team is going to check out a game, this is probably the time.

And while there are great matchups and major storylines all nine weeks of the regular season, this first one features so many that East Grand Rapids vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central – which eventually could be remembered as one of the best games in the state this entire season – arguably isn’t the biggest this weekend in the Grand Rapids area alone.

Each week, Second Half will give you an idea of top games to watch near your community, or the extended surrounding area. 

I’ve broken down the state into seven regions – hopefully you’ll be able to figure out which is where by the nicknames, or at least the games I’ve listed under each. I’ve done so by where the game will be played.

Click on Score Center to see game dates and times, and after the clocks run out, final scores from all over the state.

Greater Detroit                                                         

Detroit Cass Tech vs. Birmingham Brother Rice

This Saturday night matchup is the final game of the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State, which will host six Detroit-area matchups on opening weekend. And it will be tough for any game before November at Ford Field to match the prestige of this opener featuring the reigning MHSAA Division 1 and 2 champions. The last time Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell dressed for the Technicians, he threw five touchdown passes as a freshman in last fall’s Division 1 Final win over Detroit Catholic Central. Brother Rice quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria also is back after leading the Warriors to the Division 2 title, although they must replace graduated standout running back Devin Church. But Brother Rice can counter Campbell and an offense loaded with Division I college prospects with linebacker Jon Reschke, who has committed to Michigan State.

Others that caught my eye: Midland at Canton, Dearborn Fordson at Macomb Dakota, Warren DeLaSalle at Ann Arbor Pioneer, Bloomfield Hills Andover at Bloomfield Hills Lahser, Rochester Adams at Clarkston.

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Central at Kalamazoo Central

This is one of the longest-running football rivalries in MHSAA history and will move into a tie for eighth all-time with this 109th straight meeting. Battle Creek Central leads the series 59-45-4, although Kalamazoo Central won 28-22 last fall. The Bearcats are hoping to open with their first win since 2010, while the Maroon Giants have gone 4-5 in each of the last four seasons and hope to push for their first playoff berth since 2004.

Others that caught my eye: Carleton Airport at Adrian, St. Joseph at Marshall, Portage Central at Battle Creek Harper Creek.


Pewamo-Westphalia at Lansing Catholic

While the Saturday night game in Detroit features two teams that won titles at Ford Field last season, this matchup features two teams that finished as runners-up in their respective divisions – Division 7 and Division 5 – and are hoping to get back to Detroit with much different lineups. Both graduated standout quarterbacks and their best defenders from 2011, but both also will test new players early and often against top competition. Each plays in a tough league and will also face a reigning MHSAA champion later this fall. The Cougars get Division 7 champ Saginaw Nouvel next week, and the Pirates finish the regular season against Division 8 winner Mendon.

Others that caught my eye: Brighton at Novi, Jackson Lumen Christi at Chelsea, Mount Pleasant at DeWitt, Mendon at Fowler.

West Michigan

Lowell at Rockford

Last season, these two renewed a rivalry that previously had ended in 1973, before the playoff era had begun. These days, the Red Arrows and Rams are two of the state’s annual elite. Lowell won the 2011 game 28-7 on the way to its sixth straight season with at least 10 victories and the runner-up finish in Division 2. But Rockford won 11 straight after last season’s loss, and similarly has won at least that many games in seven of the last eight seasons.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Catholic Central at East Grand Rapids, Holt at Hudsonville, Orchard Lake St. Mary at Muskegon.

Bay and Thumb

Richmond at Marine City

New Marine City coach Ronald Glodich begins a new era but with hopes of similar success as had by retired coach Anthony Scarcelli, who led the Mariners to eight straight seasons of at least 10 wins and last season’s Division 4 runner-up finish. But Glodich will start with an immediate test in Richmond, which is coming off two straight losing seasons but improved by three wins from 2010 to 2011 and before the down streak made the playoffs 10 times in 11 seasons. 

Others that caught my eye:  Saginaw Swan Valley at St. Charles, Bay City Western at Flint Northern, Montrose at Reese.

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming at Iron Mountain

There was a not-so-recent past when Ishpeming struggled to win this annual opening night matchup – Iron Mountain has been the victor in 15 of the last 20. But these two have split the last four openers, and both won District championships last season after Iron Mountain won and Ishpeming finished second in the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Denby at Marquette, Ishpeming Westwood at Stephenson, Pittsford at Iron River West Iron County.

Lower Up North

Traverse City St. Francis at Kingsley

Traverse City St. Francis isn’t in a league this season, but is playing six of the same opponents as in 2011 – when it advanced to a Division 7 Semifinal. The Gladiators open against Kingsley after beating the Stags 57-8 in last season’s opener. But Kingsley won six of its next eight games after that loss to make the playoffs, and were only a combined 12 points from an 8-1 finish.

Others that caught my eye: Elk Rapids at Mancelona, Manistee at Ludington, St. Ignace at Charlevoix.

PHOTO: Mendon and Fowler played for last season's Division 8 championship at Ford Field, and meet again Friday at Fowler in the season opener for both. (See more at Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.

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 tomspencer@chartermi.net 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.)