A Game for Every Fan: Week 4

September 20, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Welcome to fall, Michigan. Be sure to bring a coat and umbrella when you venture out to watch your favorite football team this weekend.

And what better way to spend a fall evening than watching one of the many 3-0 vs. 3-0 matchups dotting our state as we head into the meat of many league schedules.

See below for what should be some of the best games this weekend, and be sure to monitor all the scores at the MHSAA Score Center.

West Michigan

Muskegon (3-0) at Lowell (3-0)

For the second straight week, Muskegon finds itself in the most anticipated game statewide. Seven days ago the Big Reds responded with a 45-0 victory over Rockford. Tonight they’ll try to make it three straight against Lowell after beating the Red Arrows by 15 during the regular season and then 15-13 in a District Final in 2012. Lowell has been similarly dominant this fall, but Muskegon surely will be its toughest test so far.

Others that caught my eye: Comstock Park (3-0) at Allendale (3-0), Caledonia (2-1) at Grandville (2-1), Hartford (3-0) at Saugatuck (2-1), Shelby (3-0) at Montague (2-1).

Southwest and Border

Portage Northern (3-0) at St. Joseph (3-0)

St. Joseph had similar aspirations a year ago after a 3-0 start – then fell 7-0 to Portage Northern in Week 4 and missed the playoffs with a final 5-4 record. This season’s run has included more impressive victories over Battle Creek Harper Creek and Stevensville Lakeshore, and vengeance no doubt is on the Bears’ minds.

Others that caught my eye: Decatur (3-0) at Gobles (1-2), Stevensville Lakeshore (2-1) at Portage Central (3-0), Quincy (2-1) at Jonesville (3-0), Otsego (2-1) at Plainwell (3-0).

Bay and Thumb

Saginaw Arthur Hill (3-0) at Midland (3-0)

The most impressive part of Arthur Hill’s start is that it includes wins over 2012 playoff teams Goodrich and Bay City Western – on top of the fact the Lumberjacks went 0-9, 3-6, 1-8 and 1-8, respectively, since their last playoff appearance in 2008. This game will be the true measuring stick as Midland has been the class of the Saginaw Valley Association with 15 straight league wins and the North division championship last season.

Others that caught my eye: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (3-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (2-1), Lawrence (2-0) at Peck (3-0), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port (3-0) at Unionville-Sebewaing (3-0), Almont (3-0) at Richmond (2-1).

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Southfield (2-1) at Oak Park (3-0)

Little has slowed Oak Park over the last two seasons, and wins already this fall over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Rochester Adams are proof the Knights will be back in the mix in the Oakland Activities Association White. Southfield should be too – and would love to get a strong start to a string that follows with Farmington Hills Harrison, Oxford and Adams.

Others that caught my eye: Saline (3-0) at Ann Arbor Pioneer (2-1), Orchard Lake St. Mary's (2-1) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-0), Grosse Ile (3-0) at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (3-0), Warren DeLaSalle (2-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (3-0).


DeWitt (3-0) at Ionia (3-0)

This might not seem like much of a game considering the teams’ recent histories – but don’t expect the Panthers to overlook the rejuvenated Bulldogs, who have equaled their most wins in a season since 2006, the last they qualified for the playoffs. Ionia already has scored 125 points after totaling just 200 a year ago, and the defense has been pretty solid as well.

Others that caught my eye: Fowler (2-1) at Bath (2-1), Grand Blanc (2-1) at Brighton (2-1), Holt (1-2) at Lansing Everett (3-0), Carson City-Crystal (3-0) at Vestaburg (3-0).

Lower Up North

Grayling (3-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (2-1)

This arguably (but with little argument) was the best rivalry in the Lake Michigan Conference – although Grayling’s first win in their 10 games against each other didn’t come until last season after the Gladiators had left the conference for football. St. Francis can break the Vikings’ 12-game regular-season winning streak, dating to the Gladiators’ 20-19 win over Grayling in Week 9 of 2011.

Others that caught my eye: Elk Rapids (2-1) at Charlevoix (1-2), Whittemore-Prescott (3-0) at Standish-Sterling (3-0), Petoskey (2-1) at Traverse City West (2-1), Rogers City (2-1) at Hillman (2-1).

Upper Peninsula

Marquette (3-0) at Escanaba (0-3)

Escanaba obviously is off to a rough start, and Marquette has opened with three wins over 2012 playoff teams. But an intriguing side note to this game, in addition to being a Great Northern Conference opener, is one of the coaches on the Marquette sideline – Dan Flynn, formerly Escanaba’s coach from 1985-2011, is in his first season as an assistant with the Redmen. They’re looking to beat the Eskymos for the first time since 2010.

Others that caught my eye: Ishpeming Westwood (0-3) at Ishpeming (3-0), Iron Mountain (1-2) at Negaunee (3-0), Bessemer (3-0) at Lake Linden Hubbell (1-2), Stephenson (2-1) at Felch North Dickinson (3-0).

PHOTO: Saginaw Arthur Hill (in blue) defeated Goodrich on opening night and is in pursuit of its first 4-0 start since 2008. (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.)