A Game for Every Fan: Week 2

September 5, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most will agree that the first week of high school football season generally is a little sloppy, with players excitedly shaking off the rust in a game that matters for the first time in nearly nine months.

This week they'll operate a little more smoothly – and the tune up is over for many facing make-of-break league games already in this young season. 

Below is a look at some of the most significant to be played this weekend in every corner of the state. Make sure to tune in to MHSAA Score Center after the final horn for all the scores as soon as they are reported. 

Bay and Thumb

Flint Carman-Ainsworth (1-0) at Saginaw Heritage (1-0)

The North and South divisions of the Saginaw Valley League cross over this week, and this game could feature contenders from each. Heritage, from the North, opened with a 19-10 win over Walled Lake Central and is trying to avenge a 45-7 loss to Carman-Ainsworth a year ago. The Cavaliers opened with a shutout of Grand Blanc, 13-0.  

Others that caught my eye: Richmond (0-1) at Croswell-Lexington (1-0), Linden (0-1) at Holly (1-0), Lansing Everett (1-0) at Saginaw (1-0), Ithaca (1-0) at St. Charles (1-0).

West Michigan

Muskegon (1-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (1-0)

For the second week to start this season, Grand Rapids Christian faces a team that made it to Ford Field in 2012. Last week the defending Division 3 champion Eagles came away with a 41-13 win over reigning Division 4 champion South Christian. Now they get Muskegon, last season’s Division 2 runner-up and a 41-7 winner last week over Grand Haven. The Big Reds and the Eagles haven’t met since 1993.

Others that caught my eye: Muskegon Oakridge (1-0) at Montague (1-0), Zeeland East (1-0) at Zeeland West (1-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (0-1) at Comstock Park (1-0), East Kentwood (1-0) at East Grand Rapids (1-0).

Southwest and Border

Constantine (1-0) at Schoolcraft (1-0)

Constantine made it all the way back to Ford Field and the Division 6 Final for the second straight season in 2012. But the Falcons didn’t win the Kalamazoo Valley Association title either time – thanks last season mostly to an undefeated run by Schoolcraft. With 10 teams in the KVA, all games are league games, and Constantine opened last weekend with a 64-20 win over Delton Kellogg. The Eagles have a lot of new faces, and Constantine is the league title favorite.

Others that caught my eye: St. Joseph (1-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (1-0), Kalamazoo Central (1-0) at Battle Creek Central (1-0), Saugatuck (1-0) at Marcellus (1-0), Fennville (0-1) at Decatur (0-1).

Greater Detroit

Rochester Adams (1-0) at Farmington Hills Harrison (1-0)

Even the best are prone to a down year, and Adams’ came last season when it missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996. But the Highlanders got back on the right foot last week with a 12-7 win over similarly-stellar Clarkston. Now comes an old nemesis in Harrison, which has beaten Adams in three straight and is coming off a 43-0 win over Detroit Renaissance.

Others that caught my eye: Canton (1-0) at Brighton (1-0), Detroit Martin Luther King (1-0) at Detroit East English (0-1), Plymouth (1-0) at Milford (1-0), Detroit Country Day (0-1) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (1-0).

Lower Up North

Maple City Glen Lake (1-0) at Charlevoix (1-0)

Glen Lake is getting plenty of attention in the greater Traverse City area after last season’s 9-2 finish and Northwest Conference title and last week’s opening 27-13 win over another 2012 playoff team, Boyne City. In steps Charlevoix, defeated by Glen Lake 32-0 last season but winner last week 20-0 over usually-strong St. Ignace. The Red Rayders haven’t had much success since their last playoff season of 2009, but a win tonight would be even bigger than beating the Saints last week.

Others that caught my eye: Sault Ste. Marie (0-1) at Alpena (1-0), Kingsley (1-0) at Elk Rapids (1-0), Frankfort (1-0) at Harbor Springs (1-0), St. Ignace (0-1) at Mancelona (0-1).

Upper Peninsula

Felch North Dickinson (1-0) at Newberry (1-0)

The Nordics appear to be off and running again; after scoring more than 40 points in all of their 2012 games but their Regional Final loss to St. Ignace, North Dickinson put 60 on Florence (Wis.) last week. But Newberry has a little something to prove. The Indians started 3-1 last season – their only loss 42-6 to North Dickinson – before losing their final five. They bounced back with a 32-0 win over Rudyard in last week’s opener, and can really make an impact by moving to 2-0.

Others that caught my eye: Posen (0-1) at Rapid River (1-0), Iron Mountain (0-1) at Gwinn (1-0), Ishpeming (1-0) at Manistique (0-1), Cheboygan (1-0) at Marquette (1-0).

Mid-Michigan

Beal City (1-0) at Clare (0-1)

Clare shouldn’t be overly worried about last week’s opening loss to Freeland; the Pioneers also lost to Freeland in openers in 2011 and 2012 and ended up a combined 18-5 over those two seasons. In fact, Clare also fell to Beal City in Week 2 last season before rattling off nine straight wins. Of course, no team wants to start 0-2 – but the task will be tall if last week’s 61-0 Aggies win over rival Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart is an indication of that team’s prowess.

Others that caught my eye: Jackson (0-1) at Jackson Lumen Christi (1-0), Fowlerville (1-0) at Williamston (0-1), Monroe (1-0) at Lansing Sexton (1-0), Mason (1-0) at Eaton Rapids (1-0).

PHOTO: Saginaw Swan Valley (purple) opened its season with a win over Saginaw Nouvel in one of the most intriguing matchups of opening night. (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.

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.)