A Game for Every Fan: Week 6

September 27, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Time isn't running out yet on the 2012 MHSAA football season.

But for those with high aspirations, the time has come to make months of preparation pay off.

Four weeks remain in the regular season, meaning every team with at least two wins still has a shot to qualify for the playoffs automatically. It also means most league titles are still in play – although a lot of those opportunities will be lost by the time Saturday's games are done.

Following are this week's best matchups from your corner of the state. And remember to visit the MHSAA Score Center all weekend for updated scores and standings.

(All are tonight unless noted. Go to Score Center for additional dates and kickoff times.)


Carrollton (5-0) at Ithaca (5-0)

It’s not that Ithaca has laid low during this season’s extension to its 33-game winning streak. It’s just that before this week, none of the games was an intriguing enough matchup to mention here – the Yellowjackets beat their strongest opponents so far, Williamston and Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 46-0 and 55-0, respectively. Quarterback Travis Smith, a hero from last season’s Division 6 Final win, has completed 66 percent of his passes for 865 yards and 12 touchdowns and run for eight scores. He’s tough to stop, but Ithaca’s defense might have the bigger challenge this time – Carrollton running back Derrick Nash, who has committed to Central Michigan, is averaging 10 yards per carry with 1,048 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing this fall.

Others that caught my eye: Manchester (4-1) at Grass Lake (4-1), Lake City (5-0) at Beal City (5-0), Lansing Waverly (4-1) at Charlotte (3-2), East Lansing (4-1) at Lansing Everett (5-0).

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Pennfield (5-0) at Schoolcraft (5-0)

These two have taken slightly different routes to this point, making this game a true test for both. Pennfield has beaten five of the bottom six teams in the Kalamazoo Valley Association standings (two are among three tied for fifth), and those opponents have combined for five wins so far this season. But the Panthers also are the reigning league champions. Schoolcraft owns wins over likely playoff qualifiers Olivet and Constantine, but hasn’t beaten Pennfield since 2009.

Others that caught my eye: Niles Brandywine (4-1) at Buchanan (4-1), Mattawan (5-0) at St. Joseph (3-2), Climax-Scotts (5-0) at Pittsford (4-1), Marcellus (5-0) at Watervliet (5-0).

Greater Detroit

Orchard Lake St. Mary (4-1) at Birmingham Brother Rice (4-1), Saturday

Of all the great matchups that take place in the Detroit Catholic League Central every season, this one might be the best of 2012. Both still must face Detroit Catholic Central – the reigning MHSAA Division 1 runner-up. But so far, thes Eaglets and the Warriors have made the biggest waves and done so coming off MHSAA championships last fall – St. Mary in Division 3 and Brother Rice in Division 2. The Warriors fell to reigning Division 1 champ Detroit Cass Tech 25-18 on opening night in what looked then like the potential game of 2012 in the Detroit area. Then St. Mary beat Cass Tech 13-6 last week. If all of that doesn’t provide enough hype, there’s always the result of last season’s game – a 10-9 Eaglets victory.

Others that caught my eye: Rochester (4-1) at Lake Orion (5-0), Allen Park Cabrini (4-1) at Royal Oak Shrine (4-1), Detroit Central Collegiate (3-2) at Detroit East English (4-1), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (4-1) at Petersburg-Summerfield (4-1).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-1) at Lowell (4-1)

Wins over traditional powers Zeeland West (59-58) and East Grand Rapids (43-17) have made this a solid season so far for Forest Hills Central – but this week, the Rangers can take it up another level. Lowell continues to be Lowell – its only loss was to Muskegon, arguably the best team in the state regardless of division, and no other opponent has scored more than seven points. Standout linebackers Colin Schlosser and Nick Lamica may need to come up big again for Forest Hills Central to break an eight-game losing streak against the Red Arrows.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Christian (4-1) at East Grand Rapids (2-3), Shelby (5-0) at Montague (4-1), Grandville Calvin Christian (4-1) at Hopkins (5-0), Muskegon Mona Shores (4-1) at Muskegon (5-0).

Lower Up North

Traverse City West (4-1) at Traverse City Central (4-1)

West owns an 11-4 edge in this series since the schools split in 1997. But a Central win this time would erase some of those memories – or at least push the one-sidedness out of the conversation for a while. The Trojans’ only loss this season was by three to Grand Haven on opening night, and they’ve already equaled last season’s win total with only two more needed for their most since 1991. This also could eventually decide the Big North Conference title – West has been a power since two divisions combined in 2000, but Central hasn’t won a league title since the schools were still one, in 1996.  West’s only loss this season was by four to Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills, also on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Grayling (5-0) at Elk Rapids (3-2), Pickford (5-0) at Mancelona (5-0), Kingsley (4-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (5-0), Onaway (4-1) at Pellston (4-1).

Upper Peninsula

Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-0) at Iron Mountain North Dickinson (5-0)

North Dickinson, playing only eight regular-season games this season, became the first team in 2012 to qualify for the playoffs. Now Forest Park can do the same by beating the Nordics for a ninth straight time, a streak that has included two playoff victories. This is a clash of likely eventual league champions – North Dickinson needs only a win over Powers North Central next week to claim the Mid-Eastern Football Conference title, while the Trojans already own a win over 2011 Great Western Conference champion Hurley, Wis., and have a one-game lead on two teams in that league.

Others that caught my eye: Menominee (4-1) at Escanaba (2-3), Marquette (4-1) at Kingsford (4-1), Powers North Central (3-2) at Newberry (3-2), Cedarville (5-0) at Rapid River (5-0).

Thumb and Bay

Goodrich (4-1) at Lake Fenton (4-1)

The Blue Devils are tied with Montrose atop the Genesee Area Conference Red standings and playing for their first league title since sharing with the Rams in 2007. They’ve outscored their last four opponents 203-20 since opening this season with a 42-39 loss to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. Goodrich fell to Montrose by a point two weeks ago, and would love to jump back into this race with a third-straight win over Lake Fenton – the Martians won last season 27-7.

Others that caught my eye: Midland Dow (3-2) at Bay City Western (5-0), Lapeer East (3-2) at Fenton (4-1), Davison (4-1) at Flint Powers Catholic (5-0), Hemlock (4-1) at Saginaw Swan Valley (4-1).

PHOTO: Ithaca quarterback Travis Smith focuses in on a target during last week's win at Merrill. (Click to see 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.)