A Game for Every Fan: Week 4

September 17, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

By a quick count, there are 11 matchups statewide this week of MHSAA football teams entering with 3-0 records.

That means that at most only 119 teams will be undefeated after this week – and looking at the rest of the schedule, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the total after Saturday was much lower.

Read on for some of the best games to watch no matter where you live in Michigan or traveling to this weekend. And, as always, tune in to our Score Center on Friday for scores as soon as we receive them – usually all statewide by 11 p.m. – plus updated standings and the only place you’ll find updated playoff point averages throughout the weekend.  

Bay & Thumb

Goodrich (2-1) at Flint Beecher (3-0)

Beecher has rolled to another impressive start, building on last season’s 9-0 regular-season finish with shutouts the last two weeks. Genesee Area Conference Red rival Goodrich was one of only two teams to come within 20 of the Buccaneers during that run last season – and is seeking its first win in this series since 2012. The Martians’ loss this season was by a point on opening night to still-undefeated Ortonville Brandon.

Others that caught my eye: Fenton (2-1) at Ortonville Brandon (3-0), Millington (2-1) at Birch Run (1-2), Yale (1-2) at Croswell-Lexington (2-1), Davison (2-1) at Flint Powers Catholic (2-1).

Greater Detroit

St. Clair Shores South Lake (3-0) at Clinton Township Clintondale (3-0)

The Macomb Area Conference Silver is one of the most competitive conferences rarely brought up west of Detroit, and Clintondale’s reputation is along that same line although it's reclaiming a place on the radar – the Dragons won 20 straight regular-season games from 2011-14 before finishing last fall a disappointing 4-5. But they’ve bounced back with two shutouts this fall – although South Lake, which already has surpassed last season’s win total, is averaging 31 points per game and likely won’t be the next to put up a zero.

Others that caught my eye: Warren DeLaSalle (2-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (1-2), Orchard Lake St. Mary's (3-0) at Detroit U-D Jesuit (3-0), Livonia Churchill (2-1) at Plymouth (2-1), Waterford Our Lady (3-0) at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (2-1).


Portland (3-0) at Lansing Catholic (3-0)

Recent elite-level success and star power gives this matchup the edge over four other meetings of undefeated teams in this region. Portland was the Division 5 champion in 2012 and Lansing Catholic was runner-up in 2014. The Raiders own a 6-4 edge in their 10 recent meetings, but fell 34-6 last year to a Cougars team again led this fall by quarterback Tony Poljan. Portland hopes a defense giving up just under 12 points per game can contain the University of Minnesota prospect.

Others that caught my eye: Midland (3-0) at Mount Pleasant (3-0), Grand Blanc (3-0) at Brighton (3-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (3-0) at Dansville (3-0), Lake Odessa Lakewood (3-0) at Stockbridge (3-0).

Lower Northern Peninsula

Whitehall (3-0) at Traverse City Central (3-0)

An overtime win over Traverse City West last week put Central at 3-0 for the second straight season but with an undefeated opponent making the trip up north this week. This could come down to Whitehall’s defense stopping the Trojans, who have scored 130 points but against opponents that are a combined 0-9. Whitehall has given up only 27 points so far but against opponents half the size or smaller in comparison to Central.

Others that caught my eye: Kingsley (2-1) at Boyne City (3-0), Grayling (2-1) at Charlevoix (2-1), Rogers City (2-1) at Hillman (2-1), Petoskey (2-1) at Traverse City West (0-3).

Southeast & Border

Detroit Loyola (2-1) at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (3-0)

Gabriel Richard is off to a 3-0 start for the fourth straight season, but this time outscoring its first opponents by a combined 143-6. The Fighting Irish can make that run look even better by continuing against Loyola, the defending MHSAA champion in Division 7. The Bulldogs’ 12-point loss to reigning Division 3 champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s during opening weekend was its first defeat during the regular season since 2010, and they bounced back with impressive wins over Muskegon-area powers Oakridge and Ravenna.

Others that caught my eye: Hudson (2-1) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (3-0), Grass Lake (2-1) at Manchester (2-1), Ann Arbor Skyline (2-1) at Monroe (2-1), Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (3-0) at New Boston Huron (2-1).

Southwest Corridor

Benton Harbor (2-1) at Portage Central (3-0)

Portage Central continues to rank among the class of the southwest, with last week’s one-point win over rival Stevensville Lakeshore a great start to the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West schedule. Rival Portage Northern and St. Joseph are major obstacles in the league as well – and Benton Harbor suddenly can’t be overlooked with this season’s wins its first since 2012 and already its most for an entire season since 2006. The Tigers are a seven-point opening loss to Richland Gull Lake from entering this weekend undefeated.  

Others that caught my eye: Cassopolis (3-0) at Berrien Springs (3-0), Stevensville Lakeshore (2-1) at St. Joseph (3-0), Edwardsburg (3-0) at Paw Paw (2-1), Kalamazoo Central (1-2) at Battle Creek Central (1-2).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (2-1) at Ishpeming (3-0)

The story hasn’t changed much in a year – Westwood is still seeking its first win over the neighborhood rival since 1998. Ishpeming won during the regular season and in the playoff opener last year and hasn’t loss a regular-season game to anyone since 2012. But Westwood, coming off its first playoff berth in three seasons, looks even more impressive at this point than when it entered 3-0 a year ago; the Patriots last week handed a solid L’Anse team its first loss and fell only on opening night to a Wisconsin team now 3-1.

Others that caught my eye: Indian River Inland Lakes (3-0) at St. Ignace (3-0), Marquette (0-3) at Escanaba (2-1), Iron Mountain (2-1) at Negaunee (3-0), Munising (3-0) at Newberry (2-1).

West Michigan

Muskegon (2-1) at East Grand Rapids (3-0)

The Pioneers are off to their best start since 2010 and own impressive wins over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Caledonia – but with the Big Reds this week plus Grand Rapids Christian and Lowell among the scariest teams left on the schedule. Muskegon dealt first losses to Christian and Grandville the last two weeks after opening with a loss to Detroit Catholic Central, and had one of its best defensive games of last year’s Division 3 Final run against EGR, winning 37-7.

Others that caught my eye: Muskegon Mona Shores (3-0) at Caledonia (2-1), Zeeland East (3-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (2-1), Grand Rapids West Catholic (1-2) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (3-0), Comstock Park (3-0) at Zeeland West (3-0).


Posen (3-0) at Bellaire (2-1)

Before this season, Posen had scored 60 or more points three times in five seasons of 8-player football. The Vikings have scored 60 or more every week this fall for their best start since 2010; they likely will need to score at least half that many against a Bellaire team that won this matchup 49-0 a year ago. The Eagles fell to upstart Powers North Central last week but remain a consistent 8-player power and a great test as Posen looks to take a step up.

Others that caught my eye: Deckerville (3-0) at Kingston (2-1), Tekonsha (1-2) at Portland St. Patrick (2-1)

PHOTO: Portland’s defense, here against Ovid-Elsie on opening night, will be charged with shutting down a potent Lansing Catholic offense this week. (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.)