A Game for Every Fan: Week 6

October 1, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Week 6 annually is one of celebration and sadness for Michigan high school football teams.

A total of 66 can clinch automatic playoff berths with a victory this weekend, joining Ishpeming, which qualified by winning the fifth game of its eight-game schedule a week ago. Meanwhile, 122 teams are 2-3 and can't afford another loss as they attempt to win out and clinch an automatic berth.

See below for some of the most intriguing games from each region of the state, and as always, follow results as they come in on the MHSAA Score Center.

Bay & Thumb

Ithaca (5-0) at Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (5-0)

Ithaca’s regular-season challenges are generally few; the Yellowjackets haven’t lost a regular-season game since Week 8 of 2009. But Michigan Lutheran Seminary gave Ithaca an early challenge last fall on the way to playing in a Division 7 Semifinal and is especially strong on defense again – Ithaca is one of only three teams over the last two seasons to score more than 15 points on the Cardinals.

Others that caught my eye: Flint Beecher (4-1) at Lake Fenton (4-1), Sterling Heights (4-1) at Marine City (3-2), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (3-2) at Midland (5-0), Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-2) at Unionville-Sebewaing (4-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (4-1) at Detroit East English (5-0)

The Technicians are looking to bounce back from their first regular-season loss since 2012, by three last week to Detroit Martin Luther King. East English is no doubt ready to extend Cass Tech's new streak to two. The Bulldogs, who fell to King in Week 3 by five points, lost to Cass Tech twice last season by a combined 12 points – and like Cass Tech have had little trouble this season aside from the Crusaders.  

Others that caught my eye: Walled Lake Northern (4-1) at Walled Lake Western (5-0), Allen Park (4-1) at Trenton (5-0), Northville (5-0) at Livonia Stevenson (5-0), Romeo (5-0) at Macomb Dakota (4-1).


DeWitt (5-0) at Haslett (3-2)

This grand rivalry hasn’t been as much with DeWitt winning the last 12 meetings including multiple during the playoffs. But despite the Panthers’ 39-0 victory a year ago, the 2015 version should be much closer. Rebuilt DeWitt has done well against a solid schedule, but Haslett hasn’t been far behind with losses the last two weeks by a combined seven points. The Vikings should slow the tempo enough to stay within striking distance.

Others that caught my eye: Brighton (5-0) at Hartland (3-2), Lansing Sexton (1-4) at Holt (3-2), Olivet (3-2) at Stockbridge (4-1), Eaton Rapids (2-3) at Portland (5-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Beal City (4-1) at McBain (4-1)

Beal City has owned the Highland Conference for most of the last four seasons with 21 straight wins dating to a 2011 loss – to McBain. The Ramblers are hoping to break that streak as they continue toward what should be their best finish since at least 2011 – they’ve already equaled last season’s win total and avenged two of its five losses.

Others that caught my eye: Traverse City St. Francis (5-0) at Grayling (4-1), Boyne City (4-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (4-1), Lincoln Alcona (4-1) at Oscoda (4-1), Traverse City Central (5-0) at Petoskey (4-1).

Southeast & Border

Ann Arbor Pioneer (5-0) at Saline (5-0)

The last two meetings between these two haven’t been competitive, with Saline winning both by a combined score of 68-10. The Hornets haven’t given up a point in two weeks and can clinch a share of the Southeastern Conference Red title with a victory tonight. But this is Pioneer’s best team since 2012, when it split two games with Saline. The Pioneers have equaled last season’s five wins and come through in a pair of close games – good experience if this one goes to the wire as well.

Others that caught my eye: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-1) at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (4-1), Ida (5-0) at Dundee (3-2), Homer (4-1) at Springport (3-2), Ypsilanti Lincoln (2-3) at Ypsilanti Community (2-3).

Southwest Corridor

Pittsford (4-1) at Climax-Scotts (5-0)

Climax-Scotts has won an incredible 42 straight games in the Southern Central Athletic Association, dating to a 2008 loss to Pittsford. The Wildcats are the team that most recently has come close to snapping that streak, in 2013, and fell to Climax-Scotts twice a year ago – but might be the only league team capable of slowing a Panthers attack averaging nearly 53 points per game.

Others that caught my eye: Jackson Lumen Christi (4-1) at Coldwater (5-0), Watervliet (4-1) at Constantine (3-2), Dowagiac (3-2) at Plainwell (3-2), Benton Harbor (3-2) at St. Joseph (4-1).

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford (3-2) at Marquette (2-3)

The Flivvers last week become one of the few of the past few seasons to come close to beating Menominee. But despite that three-point loss, Kingsford is driving toward a return to the playoffs after a season away and needs only one more win to equal last season’s total. Marquette has won two straight over the Flivvers, but this meeting is the most urgent of late because of an 0-3 start and tough games to finish against Negaunee and the Maroons.

Others that caught my eye: Escanaba (2-3) at Menominee (5-0), Hurley, Wis. (5-1) at Bark River-Harris (5-0), Iron River West Iron County (1-4) at Calumet (3-2), Sault Ste. Marie (3-2) at Gladstone (2-3).

West Michigan

Reed City (5-0) at Big Rapids (4-1)

Reed City gets overlooked a bit at the intersection between the Grand Rapids powers and the Big North Conference. But the Coyotes have won 36 of their last 37 games in the Central State Activities Association and can keep step with a sixth straight win over Big Rapids. That won't be as easy a task this fall, however; the Cardinals won four games total over 2013 and 2014, but are only a seven-point loss to Bay City John Glenn last week from perfection in 2015.

Others that caught my eye: East Grand Rapids (4-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (3-2), East Kentwood (4-1) at Hudsonville (4-1), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-0), Zeeland East (3-2) at Muskegon (5-0).


Cedarville (4-1) at Posen (5-0)

Cedarville has lost only four games in five seasons of 8-player football, and to no one but rival Rapid River since 2011. But Posen could change things up in the Bridge Alliance Conference if it can continue a defensive performance rare for the 8-player game – the Vikings give up only 15 points per – and come back from the 52-0 loss to Cedarville on opening night a year ago.

Others that caught my eye: Deckerville (5-0) at Morrice (4-1), New Haven Merritt (4-1) at Owendale-Gagetown (5-0), Webberville (4-1) at Battle Creek St. Philip (5-0).

PHOTO: Ithaca’s Jake Smith tries to break the grasp of a Breckenridge tackler during a Week 4 win over the Huskies. (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.)