A Game for Every Fan: Week 3

September 10, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

League play begins this week for many teams across Michigan – and with favorites facing off immediately in games that eventually could decide who wins those conference titles.

The highlighted matchups below include a few of those, but mostly some of the last titanic nonleague battles we'll see this fall – at least, until we reach the MHSAA playoffs.

All games below are tonight unless noted. Follow all of the results as they come in at the MHSAA Score Center. And keep an eye on Muskegon vs. Grandville; with their next win, the Big Reds will become the first program in state history with 800 victories. 

Bay & Thumb

Millington (2-0) at Essexville Garber (1-1)

This might not seem the caliber of a “best game of the week” from this area, but it’s been a sneaky-good matchup the last few years as Garber won in 2013 and Millington came back with a 28-19 victory on opening night in 2014. The Cardinals’ opening-night victory over Vassar this fall was a solid start, and the Dukes have scored 80 points total despite splitting their first two matchups.

Others that caught my eye: Marine City (1-1) at Marysville (1-1), Sandusky (2-0) at Bad Axe (1-1), Ortonville-Brandon (2-0) at Clio (2-0), Corunna (2-0) at Goodrich (1-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit East English (2-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (2-0)

King is expected by many to be the team to beat from the Detroit Public School League this season, and its first five opponents include reigning Division 2 champion Warren DeLaSalle (a 12-10 win), now East English and in two weeks rival Cass Tech. East English has opened with victories over 2014 playoff teams Walled Lake Central and Detroit Renaissance.  

Others that caught my eye: Southfield (1-1) at Farmington (2-0), Lincoln Park (2-0) at Trenton (2-0), Clarkston (1-1) at West Bloomfield (2-0), Farmington Hills Harrison (1-1) at Oak Park (0-2).


Grand Ledge (2-0) at Lansing Sexton (0-2)

While Grand Ledge looks early like possibly the Lansing area’s best team (Lansing Catholic is on the other side of that argument), the Comets can't look past an old rival. Sexton graduated a lot from last season’s Division 4 runner-up team, including the majority of its skill players on offense, but a new group is coming along – with the 0-2 start coming against two 2014 playoff teams.

Others that caught my eye: Lansing Catholic (2-0) at Williamston (2-0), Jackson (2-0) at East Lansing (0-2), Oscoda (1-1) at Vestaburg (2-0), Eaton Rapids (1-1) at Ionia (1-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Escanaba (2-0) at Gaylord (2-0)

There’s tons of excitement surrounding these programs as we head toward the middle of September. Escanaba is off to its first 2-0 start since 2011 and a win away from equaling its total from each of the last two seasons. Gaylord missed the playoffs a year ago and came back by starting this fall outscoring its first two opponents 94-6 – and won all three meetings the last time these teams had a series, from 2008-10.

Others that caught my eye: Lincoln Alcona (2-0) at Rogers City (2-0), Fife Lake Forest Area (1-1) at Indian River Inland Lakes (2-0), Grayling (1-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (2-0), Traverse City Central (2-0) at Traverse City West (0-2).

Southeast & Border

Saline (2-0) at Ann Arbor Skyline (2-0)

This might be the most highly-anticipated game in Michigan this weekend. Saline is playing like a team with arguably the state’s top quarterback (Josh Jackson) and coming off finishing runner-up in Division 1 – the Hornets then beat Rockford by 13 on opening night. And Skyline is playing like a team with two of the state’s most dynamic players in Daelin Hayes and Hunter Rison, opening with a pair of double-digit wins after entering the season with 12 straight losses.

Others that caught my eye: Morenci (2-0) at Petersburg-Summerfield (2-0), Hillsdale (1-1) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-0), Climax-Scotts (2-0) at Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0), Homer (1-1) at Concord (2-0).

Southwest Corridor

Portage Central (2-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0)

These Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West rivals again kick off the league schedule against each other after last season’s 20-17 Lakeshore win in Week 3 eventually decided the title. Five of their six meetings since joining the same SMAC division have been decided by 10 points or fewer – and those six meetings have resulted in three wins for each team. 

Others that caught my eye: New Buffalo (1-1) at Cassopolis (2-0), Battle Creek Pennfield (1-1) at Coldwater (2-0), Paw Paw (2-0) at Sturgis (1-1), Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (1-1) at Kalamazoo Central (2-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (1-1) at Battle Creek Central (0-2). 

Upper Peninsula

Negaunee (2-0) at Gladstone (2-0)

Gladstone likely was feeling similarly excited this time last fall when it ended a 22-game losing streak with a 3-0 start, only to drop its final six games. But the Braves have bounced back again and hope to follow last fall’s 24-19 win over Negaunee, which had to be considered an upset then and after as the Miners made the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. They’re 2-0 after surviving a tough test last week from Calumet.

Others that caught my eye: Munising (2-0) at Felch North Dickinson (1-1), Ishpeming (2-0) at Calumet (1-1), Iron River West Iron County (2-0) at Iron Mountain (1-1), Marquette (0-2) at Sault Ste. Marie (1-1).

West Michigan

Rockford (1-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0)

The Rams are taking on their second 2014 MHSAA runner-up already this season, having fallen to Saline in Week 1 and now taking on the second-place team from Division 2. Rockford handed the Sailors their only pre-Ford Field loss in 2014, 10-7 in Week 3. But Mona Shores has had no problem putting points on the board despite replacing a Division I college quarterback – the Sailors have scored 55 in each of their first two games.

Others that caught my eye: East Grand Rapids (2-0) at Caledonia (2-0), Hudsonville (2-0) at Zeeland East (2-0), Grandville (2-0) at Muskegon (1-1), Scottville Mason County Central (2-0) at Whitehall (2-0).


Rapid River (2-0) at Cedarville (2-0)

Together these two have played in three of the first four MHSAA 8-player Finals, and they’ll continue this growing rivalry game despite playing in different leagues for the first time since making the format switch. Cedarville's only regular-season losses of the last three years have come, twice, to the Rockets, who won 20-19 a year ago and haven’t lost a regular-season game since Week 9 of 2012.

Others that caught my eye: Peck (1-1) at Kinde-North Huron (1-1), Powers North Central (2-0) at Bellaire (2-0) (Sat.).

PHOTO: Grand Ledge’s 2-0 start included a 38-7 win over Holland West Ottawa in Week 2. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.)