A Game for Every Fan: Week 9

October 18, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most of this weekend is about numbers for hopeful MHSAA football teams. 

There are still a few league titles to award. Some are listed below. But much of the focus is on the 256-team playoff field that will be determined Sunday. As of this morning, 178 teams have achieved automatic berths.

Some other numbers of note:

  • Only five games this weekend feature 5-3 teams facing each other. That means at least five more teams will be added to the automatic qualifier list.
  • Six 5-3 teams face undefeated opponents, and 16 5-3 teams face opponents that have only one loss.
  • A total of 31 teams face opponents with six or more losses, including eight that face teams that haven't won this fall.

See below for some of the most significant games being played in every corner of the state. Visit the MHSAA Score Center all weekend for updated scores and standings, and tune in to Fox Sports Detroit at 6 p.m. Sunday for the Selection Sunday Show.

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

Greater Detroit

Detroit Catholic Central (5-3) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary (6-2), Saturday at Ford Field

The Detroit Catholic League Central title had seemed all but sown up by the Eaglets before DCC’s stunning 35-13 win last week that pushed Brother Rice out of this Prep Bowl game and set up this rematch instead. But two of DCC’s losses were to Ohio powers and it’s fast becoming the expectation for three Catholic League Central teams to make runs at MHSAA Finals.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Martin Luther King (5-3) vs. Detroit East English (7-1) at Ford Field, Clarkston (8-0) at Oak Park (7-1), Allen Park Cabrini (6-2) vs. Detroit Loyola (8-0), Saturday at Ford Field; Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (7-1) vs. Pontiac Notre Dame (8-0), Saturday at Ford Field.

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford (7-1) at Escanaba (4-4)

The Flivvers have secured a share of the Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference title, but can win it outright with one more victory tonight. That would appear likely as Kingsford has beaten Escanaba in 12 straight. But the Eskymos are holding onto a faint hope of making the playoffs at 5-4, and winning this one would go a long way beyond the obvious toward making that happen.

Others that caught my eye: Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-4) at Crystal Falls Forest Park (6-2), Bellaire (5-3) at Rapid River (7-1), Cheboygan (6-2) at St. Ignace La Salle (8-0), Powers North Central (5-3) at Stephenson (6-2).


Holt (5-3) at Grand Ledge (6-2)

This may be the best rivalry in the Lansing area. These are the only regular Division 1 teams, and they’ve split their last 10 meetings. With it unlikely that Lansing Everett will lose to winless Jackson tonight, Grand Ledge probably won’t gain a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title. But the Comets can continue to improve their playoff point average – and possibly keep Holt from qualifying at all.

Others that caught my eye: Portland (7-1) at Charlotte (6-2), Fruitport (8-0) at DeWitt (6-2), Grass Lake (7-1) at Leslie (8-0), Mendon (8-0) at Pewamo-Westphalia (6-2).

Thumb and Bay

Midland Dow (5-3) at Midland (8-0)

The Chemics secured a share of the Saginaw Valley Association North title by defeating Bay City Western last week, but easily could end up sharing the championship. Western plays Bay City Central, a tough foe, but perhaps not as tough as the Chemics run against in Dow – which must win to secure a playoff berth. Midland has won nine of the last 10 against the Chargers.

Others that caught my eye: Vassar (7-1) at Frankenmuth (8-0), Montrose (7-1) at Lake Fenton (7-1), Linden (7-1) at Swartz Creek (7-1), Lapeer West (6-2) at Fenton (7-1).

West Michigan

Muskegon (8-0) at Zeeland East (8-0)

Muskegon might’ve left a more competitive conference top to bottom when it moved from the O-K Red to Black after last season. But it still has to face a similarly tough foe for the title in the Chix. Zeeland East is seeking its second league title in three seasons; Muskegon its first since 2008, plus the possibility of home playoff games through Regionals.

Others that caught my eye: Lowell (7-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (7-1), Hastings (6-2) at Grand Rapids South Christian (5-3), Grand Rapids Northview (7-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (5-3), Hamilton (5-3) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (4-4).

Lower Up North

Boyne City (8-0) at Grayling (8-0)

These teams have succeeded in avoiding all obstacles on the way to this deciding game in the Lake Michigan Conference, which was dominated lately by Traverse City St. Francis before the Gladiators left the league after this spring. Grayling has won their last three meetings by at least 27 points and is going for its first perfect season since at least 1950 (the 1970 team didn’t lose, but had a tie). Boyne City is hoping for its first perfect regular season since 2001.

Others that caught my eye: Elk Rapids (4-4) at Kalkaska (6-2), Menominee (7-1) at Petoskey (5-3), Muskegon Catholic Central (5-3) at Traverse City St. Francis (4-4), Mayville (5-3) at Big Rapids Crossroads (0-8).

Southwest and Border

Lawton (7-1) at Watervliet (8-0)

Watervliet can claim the Southwestern Athletic Conference South championship for the second straight season and is averaging 50 points per game in league play. Lawton would love to get the title back after winning in 2010 but falling to Watervliet in the deciding game last season.

Others that caught my eye: Otsego (6-2) at Dowagiac (8-0), Paw Paw (8-0) at Edwardsburg (6-2), Portage Northern (7-1) at Mattawan (7-1), Portland St. Patrick (8-0) at Waldron (6-2).

PHOTO: Pontiac Notre Dame, here against Dearborn Divine Child, will face Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in a Prep Bowl game Saturday at Ford Field. (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.)