Glen Lake Blazes Trail Back to Finals

November 23, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

TRAVERSE CITY – Congratulatory messages streamed in Saturday after Maple City Glen Lake defeated Leroy Pine River 34-20 in a Division 6 football Semifinal at snow-covered Thirlby Field – a win that secured the Lakers’ first MHSAA Finals appearance in 20 years.

Head coach Jerry Angers’ phone was particularly active. Among those calling or texting: Former Traverse City West coach Matt Prisk, who Angers previously worked under as a defensive coordinator; retiring St. Ignace coach Marty Spencer, whose Saints fell to defending Division 8 champion Muskegon Catholic earlier in the day; and Eric Gordon, the former Michigan State linebacker, who played for Prisk and Angers at West.

Angers, who was still fielding calls and texts late into the night Saturday, was “touched” by the show of support for his Glen Lake program.

Most of all, he was proud of his players, who kept improving every week to make this moment possible.

“They have worked hard for this opportunity,” he said. “I told them (after Saturday’s game), ‘You’re going to Ford Field. You’re one of 16 teams still playing. A lot of people will be watching, but I want you to enjoy it.’

“It’s like the Alan Jackson song ‘Remember When.’ I said in 20 years when you come back to see me I want you to say, ‘Remember when.’”

Glen Lake, which faces Jackson Lumen Christi for the title Friday, won the Class DD championship in 1994 under coach Bill Hollenbeck. The Lakers lost in the Class DD Final in 1996. Now, 20 years later, Glen Lake’s back.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” all-state linebacker Duke Angers, the coach’s son, said a few hours after the game. “It seems surreal right now. Growing up as a kid, you dream about playing at Ford Field. Now we get that opportunity. We’ll enjoy this for 24 hours and then get to work for Jackson Lumen Christi.”

Junior quarterback Cade Peterson, who rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Pine River, is also a coach’s son. His father, Tim, was head coach at Lake City for 15 seasons. The family moved into the Glen Lake school system this year. Tim is the quarterbacks coach for the Lakers.

“I’ve been going down to the state finals since I was 12,” Cade said. “And I would always think, ‘I want to play in this (state finals).’ Now it’s happening. You can ask any team in the state, and their ultimate goal would be to go to Ford Field and play for a state title. Only a few teams can say they accomplished that – and we did. As soon as that moment set in (Saturday), it was ‘Hey, we achieved our goal. Now let’s go win a state championship.’”

For Tim Peterson, who led Lake City to nine playoff berths, including Regional appearances in 2012 and 2013, it was a moment to savor.

“You work your whole life as a coach to try to get to the apex – and this is it,” he said. “We’re there. I couldn’t be happier for the kids, the program and the community.”

Now the task for the 11-2 Lakers is to a win a 12th game. Glen Lake will be taking on a program steeped in tradition. This will be Lumen Christi’s eighth MHSAA Finals appearance since 2000. The Titans have won five crowns during that span under coach Herb Brogan.

“Our kids have been facing challenges all year, and people keep underestimating them,” Tim Peterson said. “They just keep doing what they do – and they do it very well.”

Glen Lake’s losses were to Traverse City St. Francis (21-13) and Frankfort (26-21), teams that finished 11-1.  The Lakers came in second to Frankfort in the Northern Michigan Football League’s Leaders division. Jerry Angers, now in his eighth season at the helm, said his team learned valuable lessons from those defeats.

“Sometimes losses are good for you,” he said. “We, as coaches and fans, never want to believe that, but in our two losses we had 15 or so penalties in one and five turnovers in the other. So you go back and you work on it. You try to reduce the penalties, reduce the turnovers. That became a great focus for our kids. I think we’ve had eight penalties in four playoff games – total. And we’ve kept our turnovers to a minimum. If you focus on the task at hand, and what’s in front of you, those things are going to be eliminated.”

Cade Peterson said the setbacks brought the team closer together, too.

“People can start pointing fingers (in defeat),” he said. “That didn’t go on here. Everybody picked each other up and kept fighting, kept going.”

The 16 seniors on the team led the way.

“They set the tone,” Tim Peterson said. “The senior leadership has been phenomenal in keeping the focus.”

Glen Lake had to go on the road at Roscommon and Calumet to win two of its four playoff games. On Saturday, the Lakers, who were averaging 160 yards passing and 215 yards rushing per contest out of their spread offense, stuck to the ground to beat Pine River in blustery conditions that forced officials to clear snow off the artificial turf before and during the game.

Glen Lake rushed for 309 yards. In addition to Peterson’s 179 yards, Duke Angers picked up 59 and Nick Apsey 54. Apsey also hauled in two catches for 34 yards. The Laker backs – running behind a line that features tackles Jake Palmer and Brandon Tremble, guards Ryan Nadlicki and Zack Gushurst and center Tommy Kendall – averaged nearly five yards a carry. Nadlicki’s uncle, Mike, was a star on Traverse City’s state championship team in 1988.

“The weather forced us to be very one-dimensional (Saturday), but we’re real pleased with our ability to run the football as well as throw it,” Tim Peterson said. “That’s a good combination to have when you go deep into the playoffs because you never know what the weather will be.”

For the season, Cade Peterson’s completed 106 of 207 passes for 1,953 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jared Jackson, last year’s starting quarterback, has caught 30 passes, Apsey 23.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Peterson leads the team in rushing with 843 yards. Apsey, also a junior, has added 791 yards.

Defensively, Duke Angers, a four-year starter, is averaging 10 stops a game and Tony Duperon seven. Glen Lake is surrendering less than 200 yards in offense per game. Angers was the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s Defensive Player of the Year a year ago.

“As a football coach, he’s one of the best leaders and overall players that I’ve ever been associated with,” Jerry Angers said.

Jerry Angers led Glen Lake to back-to-back 9-2 seasons in 2012-13. The Lakers reached the District Finals those years.

Glen Lake qualified for the playoffs a year ago, finishing 5-5. This season, with a number of experienced players returning, coupled with the addition of Cade and Drew Peterson, the team has flourished. Drew is a sophomore defensive end and receiver. He had an interception Saturday.

Cade Peterson was a two-year starter at Lake City, throwing for 1,753 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.

“I feel a big part of why I’ve been successful (at Glen Lake) is because of how welcoming everybody was – not only the team and coaches, but the school and community,” he said.

“When those two (Peterson) boys walked in, our kids just grabbed them and said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You’re part of us now,’” Jerry Angers added.

Tim Peterson retired as a principal in June of 2015. He coached the Trojans that fall, but after the school year the family decided to make a move. Peterson was familiar with the Glen Lake area, since he worked camps with Hollenbeck. He was also good friends with Angers.

“It was time for a change,” Peterson explained. “We came up and looked at the academic piece of it, which is most important to us, and we said this is where we want to go.

“We’ve always said, at some point, we’d like to get here. This community is so supportive of their kids and of their school and that’s what you look for as a parent.”

Now the Lakers are one win away from a second MHSAA title. Regardless of what happens, though, Duke Angers said he believes his senior class has made an impact.

“We raised the bar a little,” he said. “We wanted to leave a trail to follow – and I think we have.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at 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) Maple City Glen Lake’s Nick Apsey (5) follows his blockers on the way to the end zone during Saturday’s Semifinal win over Leroy Pine River. (Middle) Wes Peplinski (68) drops the Pine River quarterback in the 34-20 victory. (Photos by Kim Jackson.) 

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for

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 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.)