A Game for Every Fan: Week 2

September 2, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most of this week’s MHSAA varsity football games will again be played over both Thursday and Friday, similar to last week and this time in anticipation of travelers leaving town for an extended Labor Day break. In fact, nearly 80 percent of games will be played tonight. 

But unlike last week, there aren’t a ton of matchups that jump out and announce, “You can’t miss this.” And that’s where we come into the mix.

See below for some of the possible jewels from this weekend’s schedule, all to be played tonight unless noted. And remember to follow all of the results as they come in at the MHSAA Score Center.

Bay & Thumb

Freeland (1-0) at Chesaning (1-0)

It’s tough to believe once-powerful Chesaning hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007. But the Indians finished with a winning record last fall for the first time since that season, and debuted a snazzy synthetic turf field last week. Anticipation is high, and they now host Freeland, which is coming off a 10-2 finish in 2014 and beat Chesaning 42-0 a year ago.

Others that caught my eye: Frankenmuth (1-0) at Birch Run (0-1), Bad Axe (1-0) at Marlette (1-0), Richmond (1-0) at Yale (0-1), St. Clair (0-1) at Marine City (0-1).

Greater Detroit

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (1-0) at Macomb Dakota (1-0)

This continues to be the most exciting rivalry in Macomb County after a third straight season of multiple matchups a year ago – the teams split, with Dakota winning in Week 2 by 21 points and the Big Reds claiming the District Final 28-27. The Cougars are coming off arguably the most notable victory of Week 1, a 35-10 defeat of reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion Clarkston. But Chippewa Valley downed generally-strong Lake Orion top open for the second season in a row and is plenty capable of making this the state’s best matchup of the week.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Country Day (1-0) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (1-0), Grosse Pointe South (1-0) at Romeo (1-0), Sterling Heights Stevenson (1-0) at Utica Eisenhower (1-0), Allen Park (1-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (1-0).


Mason (1-0) at Eaton Rapids (1-0)

Mason’s experienced offense showed the difference a year can make by putting up 56 points in a win over Okemos last week after scoring only 14 against the Chieftains on opening night 2014. The Bulldogs went on last year to score a season-low 10 points in three games – including in a Week 2 10-7 win over Eaton Rapids. The Greyhounds are seeking to take the next step in their revival with a first win over Mason since 1993.

Others that caught my eye: Laingsburg (1-0) at Fowler (1-0), Sand Creek (1-0) at Stockbridge (1-0), Beal City (1-0) at Clare (0-1) (Fri.), Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (1-0) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (0-1) (Fri.).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (1-0)

The coach Dave Howes era at Escanaba began last week with a win over Alpena, which actually counts as the team’s third victory in four games going back to last fall. That’s something to build on for a program seeking its first winning season since 2011 and facing an opponent that has won 14 of its last 18 games. Petoskey could be a Big North Conference contender and would love to enter league play 2-0 for the third straight season.

Others that caught my eye: Boyne City (1-0) at Charlevoix (1-0), Gaylord (1-0) at Grayling (1-0), Whittemore-Prescott (0-1) at Oscoda (1-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-0) at McBain (1-0).

Southeast & Border

Morenci (1-0) at Hudson (1-0)

Morenci burst back among this area’s elite last fall with its best finish (10-2) since 1996, and continued by beating another 2014 playoff team, Pittsford, 44-6 last week. The 21-16 victory over Hudson in Week 2 last season got momentum rolling in a big way for the Bulldogs and could do so again – but also was Hudson’s only regular-season loss, meaning the Tigers will be more than ready for the rematch.

Others that caught my eye: Portland (1-0) at Hillsdale (1-0), Concord (1-0) at Union City (1-0), Onsted (1-0) at Adrian Madison (1-0), Detroit Cesar Chavez (1-0) at Ida (1-0).

Southwest Corridor

Portage Central (1-0) at Battle Creek Lakeview (1-0)

After facing each other in a 2013 District Final, these two Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference contenders didn’t get to play each other last fall because weather washed the Week 2 game out. Lakeview went on to win the SMAC East and Portage Central was second in the SMAC West, and this should again be a matchup of contenders in their respective divisions.

Others that caught my eye: Decatur (1-0) at Constantine (0-1), Vicksburg (1-0) at Edwardsburg (1-0), Paw Paw (1-0) at Plainwell (1-0), Richland Gull Lake (1-0) at St. Joseph (1-0).

Upper Peninsula

Calumet (1-0) at Negaunee (1-0)

These northern U.P. neighbors re-started their series three seasons ago, and two of the first three games have been decided by eight or fewer points – although Negaunee has won all three of their matchups. Last season’s 31-22 win was a big reason why the Miners were able to qualify for the playoffs at 5-4 – and also ended up the closest loss for the Copper Kings, who ended 7-4.

Others that caught my eye: L’Anse (1-0) at Iron River West Iron County (1-0), Traverse City Central (1-0) at Marquette (0-1) (Fri.), Bark River-Harris (1-0) at Gogebic (1-0) (Fri.), Hurley, Wis. (2-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-0) (Sat.).

West Michigan

Detroit Loyola (0-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (1-0), Friday

Oakridge loaded its schedule with two reigning MHSAA champions to start things off this fall and last week ended Division 8 champ Muskegon Catholic Central’s 26-game winning streak. Like MCC, Loyola – the reigning winner in Division 7 – graduated many of its top contributors from the last few seasons. But the Bulldogs looked capable again in falling to reigning Division 3 champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 24-12 in their opener.  

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids South Christian (0-1) at Caledonia (1-0), Ravenna (1-0) at Montague (1-0), Holt (0-1) at Rockford (0-1), Muskegon (0-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (1-0) (Fri.)


Engadine (1-0) at Powers North Central (1-0), Friday

North Central, home to the reigning Class D boys basketball champion as well, is new to 8-player this season and put up a basketball-like 82 points last week. The Jets are only two seasons removed from an 8-3 record in 11-player, but should get more of a test from Engadine, a playoff team in 8-player three of the last four seasons.

Others that caught my eye: Onaway (0-1) at Brimley (0-1), Tekonsha (1-0) at Webberville (1-0).

PHOTO: Beal City quarterback Tucker Gross prepares to receive the snap during Friday’s win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. 

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.)