Lumen Christi Grinds, then Rises in D6

November 25, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

DETROIT – The low was never that low, given the circumstances Jackson Lumen Christi played through during a 1-2 start this season.

But the high was definitely up there Friday as the Titans reached a peak they hadn’t visited since 2009.

Reminiscent of the teams that won three MHSAA championships during the first decade of this century, Lumen Christi’s latest contender rattled off 11 straight wins this fall, eliminated two top-three ranked favorites during the playoffs and finished with a workmanlike 26-14 win over Maple City Glen Lake in the Division 6 Final.

The title was the prize, of course, but the journey is worth celebrating as well. The Titans opened this season with a 17-point loss to Grand Rapids West Catholic, which will play for the Division 5 title Saturday. Two weeks later, Lumen fell to another eventual playoff team in Battle Creek Harper Creek. But the ensuing win streak included a run through the rest of the competitive Interstate 8 Athletic Conference and playoff wins over No. 2 Schoolcraft and No. 3 Millington before the fifth-ranked Titans took down the No. 6 Lakers.

“We were just so determined to get to this point, and we did,” Lumen junior fullback/linebacker Kyle Minder said. “After starting off 1-2, we were kinda down. We still had faith that we were going to make the playoffs. We had some tough games coming up; it was going to be a battle just to get into the playoffs.

"(But) we were on a roll, and it just never stopped.”

The Titans ran for 298 yards and held the Lakers to a mere four on the ground, overpowering them at times on the line and pounding with Minder on both sides of the ball while senior Bo Bell rattled off one of the busiest rushing games in MHSAA Finals history.

Bell ran 40 times for 238 yards – 11th-most for a championship game – to finish this fall unofficially with 2,666 yards, 16th most in MHSAA history for one season. His 340 carries ranked seventh, and he ran for a touchdown as well to give him 33 total, which is tied for 21st on that single-season list.

“I like putting the team on my back, but I can’t do this on my own,” said Bell, as he pointed out the contributions of his offensive line, Minder and junior quarterback Troy Kutcha. “All the hard work’s worth it; that’s all I can say,” Bell added.

Lumen Christi had 13 seniors on its roster. Although all but a couple were starters or second string by the end of the season, only about half had seen the field at the beginning – and the Titans also started three sophomores and a freshman.

But the 24-14 Harper Creek loss left longtime coach Herb Brogan optimistic.

“I said to the coaches, ‘I’m not down, because we really competed hard against a good football team, and we’re going to get better,’” said Brogan, who has led Lumen Christi to 331 wins – fifth all-time – and seven of its nine championships since taking over the program in 1980. “The next two games, we pulled out games that were critical games going in.

“The kids, they really like each other, and not every team likes each other. It’s difficult when you have a small senior group. … When you get a mix of young kids in there, you have to have a special senior group to make that thing jell. That’s what I give a lot of credit to our seniors for; they gave us the leadership we needed.”

Minder, who ran for 66 yards on 21 carries, chugged in for his first of three touchdowns to start the scoring with 4:36 left in the first quarter. He added his second score 4:31 into the second, and picked up the third with 10 seconds left in the first half to make the score 20-7.

Along the way, Glen Lake junior quarterback Cade Peterson found junior Nick Rice for a 57-yard touchdown strike down the right side, and his 9-yard scoring pass to junior Nick Apsey brought the Lakers to within 26-13 with 9:47 to play.

But as a team that runs well is able to do, Lumen Christi (12-2) ground 8:04 off the clock going only 50 yards but on 17 plays, leaving Glen Lake little time to attempt a final rally.

The Lakers (11-3) were playing their first MHSAA Final since 1996 and after also eliminating top-eight teams in Calumet and Roscommon along the way.

“We didn’t get it done on two 4th-and-1s, or 4th-and-inches, which really was the surprising part,” Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers said. “And of course, they rushed the ball well. We blew some assignments. We made a couple big mistakes and didn’t get our run fits correctly, and it opened up the door for those guys.”

Peterson completed 15 of 20 passes for 254 yards, especially impressive because of Glen Lake’s troubles balancing things on the ground. Rice caught five passes for 116 yards.

Apsey, senior linebacker Tony Duperon and senior safety Jared Jackson had 11 tackles apiece for the Lakers.

“I’m just so grateful that we came down here with our team. A lot of people didn’t really expect this out of us,” Peterson said. “Obviously, we proved them wrong and we gave these guys a good fight.

“I’m going to miss these seniors a lot. They’re a great group of guys. But we’re coming back next year.”

Click for the full box score.

The MHSAA Football Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Jackson Lumen Christi players hoist the championship trophy after winning Division 6 on Friday. (Middle) Titans running back Bo Bell follows the blocking of teammate Kyle Minder. 

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.)