A Game for Every Fan: Week 8

October 11, 2012

One team more than half of the 2012 MHSAA football playoff field has been decided, with 129 teams qualified for the 256-team field with two regular-season games to play.

And each of these final weeks includes opportunities for plenty to do something they've never done before.

Over the last two weeks, Swartz Creek, Grand Rapids Northview and Detroit East English have earned their first playoff berths ever (East English in its first year as a school). Detroit Consortium, Mayville, Walled Lake Northern and Saginaw Valley Lutheran all can earn their first berths with wins this weekend.

See below for some of the best games being played in every corner of the state. And visit the MHSAA Score Center all weekend for updated scores and standings.

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

Greater Detroit

Clarkston (7-0) at Lake Orion (7-0)

These Oakland Activities Association Red rivals have two of the top three playoff point averages among potential Division 1 teams this fall, and are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, by The Associated Press' media panel. This is as true a rivalry as they come -- the schools are nearly the same size at more than 2,500 students each, they are located only 11 miles apart, and they've split their last 10 meetings including three in the playoffs.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Cody (5-2) vs. Detroit East English (6-1) at Detroit Northwestern, Dearborn Heights Robichaud (7-0) at Dearborn Fordson (6-1), Oak Park (7-0) at Oxford (4-3), Detroit Martin Luther King (4-3) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (6-1) at Detroit Northwestern.

Lower Up North

Traverse City St. Francis (4-3) at Maple City Glen Lake (7-0)

At stake this week and potentially next is St. Francis' 22-season playoff berth streak, the state's longest. Its losses are to teams with a combined 19-2 record, but the Gladiators took a significant step last week by beating Saginaw Nouvel. Glen Lake is much like the teams that have beaten St. Francis. The Lakers have given up only 44 points total and own a win over Kingsley, which beat the Gladiators on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Benzie Central (3-4) at Cheboygan (5-2), Boyne City (7-0) at Elk Rapids (4-3), Lake City (6-1) at Manton (4-3), Kalkaska (5-2) at Frankfort (3-4).

Bay and Thumb

Midland (7-0) at Bay City Western (7-0)

Like some games these teams have won this season, their league race is coming right down to the final minutes. The winner claims a share of the Saginaw Valley Association North championship, with both then facing city rivalry games to finish the regular season. Western has survived three straight eight-point wins, and Midland edged two of those same opponents by seven points apiece. The Chemics have beaten the Warriors in six of their last eight meetings.

Others that caught my eye: Swartz Creek (7-0) at Fenton (6-1), Walled Lake Western (5-2) at Grand Blanc (4-3), Saginaw Valley Lutheran (5-2) at Merrill (4-3), Marine City (6-1) at St. Clair (7-0).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (7-0) at Hastings (6-1)

The winner of this matchup will claim a share of the O-K Gold championship. Grand Rapids Catholic Central is the reigning champion, but Hastings can claim a league title for the first time since 2001. The Cougars have won three of the four between these two since joining the Gold, but Hastings if off to its best start since that last league championship season.

Others that caught my eye: Lowell (6-1) at Caledonia (6-1), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (4-3) at Grand Rapids Christian (6-1), Fruitport (7-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (5-2), Grandville (4-3) at Rockford (5-2).


Grand Ledge (5-2) at East Lansing (5-2)

This has been one of the best rivalries in mid-Michigan for more two decades. And although this game likely won't decide a league champion this time -- Lansing Everett leads both by a win in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue standings -- it's remains significant as both the Comets and Trojans' playoff hopes could hinge on which wins tonight. East Lansing might be in better shape, with one-win Okemos coming up in Week 9. But the Comets finish with Holt, 4-3 and another team playing for a postseason berth.

Others that caught my eye: DeWitt (6-1) at Portland (6-1), Walled Lake Northern (5-2) at Hartland (7-0), Williamston (4-3) at Haslett (4-3), Mason (5-2) at Lansing Waverly (4-3).

Southwest and Border

Stevensville Lakeshore (7-0) at Mattawan (7-0)

No region of the state has more big games this week, with titles being decided all over the Kalamazoo area and southwestern corner. But these are the big schools from the biggest league, and the game longest-awaited as both have navigated a tough Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West. Mattawan does have to face third-place Portage Northern next week, but the winner tonight will be riding high no matter what opponent is up next. Mattawan did win last season, breaking an eight-game losing streak against the Lancers.

Others that caught my eye: Watervliet (7-0) at Decatur (6-1), Edwardsburg (6-1) at Dowagiac (7-0), Paw Paw (7-0) at Otsego (6-1), Union City (5-2) at Reading (6-1).

Upper Peninsula

L’Anse (6-1) at Eagle River Northland Pines (7-0)

Northland Pines, the only Wisconsin team in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, leads both L'Anse and Calumet by a win with this the final weekend of the league schedule. Calumet fell to Northland Pines by two on opening night and defeated L'Anse by 20 last week, which doesn't seem to indicate good things for the latter. But a win tonight would add another huge accomplishment to the Hornets' first winning season since 2007. 

Others that caught my eye: Negaunee (7-0) at Marquette (4-3), Pellston (4-3) at St. Ignace (7-0), Crystal Falls Forest Park (5-2) at Bessemer (4-2), Iron Mountain North Dickinson (7-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3).

PHOTO: Elk Rapids' Derek Sentieri works to break away from Traverse City St. Francis tacklers during their game earlier this fall. (Click to see more at Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.)