Marine City, Mathison Make Right Moves

November 29, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

DETROIT — When Jarrett Mathison was told he wouldn't be Marine City's quarterback this season, he could've taken the news the wrong way.

He could've been selfish about losing the marquee position on the football team. He could've sulked, becoming a disruptive force on the team. He could've complained to his parents, who in turn could've made life miserable for coach Ron Glodich and his staff. 

Instead, Mathison handled the change with a team-first attitude, even though he had no clue what his role would be with the Mariners.

"There wasn't really a decision until about a week before our first game," Mathison said. "They told me I was going to play fullback. I said, 'OK. I don't care. I'm playing. I've got to do what I've got to do to help the team out.'" 

As it turned out, Mathison got even more action this season than he did a year ago when he was the sophomore quarterback for an 8-2 team.

He starred in all three phases of the game, leading Marine City to a 49-35 victory over defending-champion Grand Rapids South Christian in the MHSAA Division 4 championship game Friday at Ford Field. 

Mathison intercepted two passes, returned the opening kickoff of the second half 91 yards for a touchdown, and ran 18 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

"We had to tell him he could be a benefit on both sides of the ball," Glodich said. "That gamble paid off tonight. He's a warrior. He was better at the end of the game than the beginning of the game." 

Mathison never expected to have such an active role in Marine City's success after the quarterback position was turned over to junior Alex Merchant, who was 10 for 12 for 208 yards and three touchdowns against South Christian.

"I thought I was just going to be a person filling in," said Mathison, who scored 32 touchdowns this season. "It just came out for the better. Everything happens for a reason." 

Senior Pete Patsalis caught all three touchdown passes for the Mariners, grabbing five passes for 142 yards. Marine City scored on seven straight full possessions, not including a one-play series in which it ran out the clock following a South Christian touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half.

The score was tied 21-21 at halftime when Mathison gave Marine City a huge lift to start the second half. A series of fake handoffs on a kick return that fooled nobody the first time the Mariners tried it worked wonders this time around. Mathison received the kick, turned his back toward the Sailors and faked the ball to three teammates before taking off and getting in the clear. 

"The big kickoff return took the wind out of us a bit," South Christian coach Mark Tamminga said. "That was a huge momentum swing there. Give all the credit to them. That's a heck of a football team. We got beat by a better football team."

Still, South Christian was in the game when quarterback Jon Wassink scored from one yard out on fourth-and-goal to tie the game 28-28 with 6:04 left in the third quarter. 

The Sailors couldn't stop the Mariners' offense, however. A 65-yard touchdown pass from Merchant to Patsalis with 5:11 left in the third quarter put Marine City ahead to stay. A 1-yard run by Mathison made it a 14-point game.

South Christian got within 42-35 with plenty of time left when Wassink hit Eric VanVoorst with a 19-yard touchdown pass with 10:04 remaining, but Marine City ground out a 12-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6:15 to get some breathing room. A 20-yard pass from Merchant to Patsalis capped the drive with 3:45 left. 

"We told the kids, 'You stay with them until the fourth quarter, then I guarantee you you'll have more in your tank than they do,'" Glodich said.

History was made in this game, as Marine City junior Olivia Viney became the first girl to play in an MHSAA Final. Viney did more than just play, going 7 for 7 on extra points to tie a Finals record for most extra points in a game. Paul Gross of Jackson Lumen Christi also was 7 for 7 in the 2001 Division 5 Final against Livonia Clarenceville. 

"I really wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be," Viney said. "My team did a really good job of keeping everyone calm, keeping their heads on their shoulders. I was totally prepared mentally and physically."

Viney finished the season 61 for 65 on extra points, breaking the Marine City mark of 59 extra points in a season. She also had a 30-yard field goal. 

"I couldn't do it without my team," she said. "I couldn't score an extra point unless we get touchdowns. Our snapper, our holder, our offensive line — I couldn't do it without them."

The tone for the high-scoring game was set just 58 seconds in, as Wassink hit VanVoorst with a 52-yard touchdown pass to give South Christian a 7-0 lead. 

That was the only score of the first quarter, but the pace picked up in the second quarter, with the teams combining for five touchdowns to go into halftime tied at 21-21.

Mathison's 1-yard run put Marine City on the board with 10:28 left in the second quarter. 

A 39-yard pass from Merchant to Patsalis with 7:12 left in the second quarter gave the Mariners a 14-7 lead.

Wassink's 50-yard option keeper with 5:36 left in the second quarter tied it 14-14. Tait Sapienza answered for Marine City with an 18-yard touchdown run with 2:05 to go in the half. 

South Christian tied it 12 seconds before halftime when Wassink threw a low 8-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Haan, who was able to trap the ball between his legs as he fell across the goal line.

Wassink, a junior two-year starter who missed last year's championship game after breaking his collarbone in the Semifinal, was 18-for-38 for 240 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Sapienza ran 17 times for 123 yards and a touchdown for Marine City (13-1), which won its other MHSAA title in 2007. 

"They were more physical than us," Tamminga said. "When you control both sides of the line of scrimmage, you're going to win a lot of football games."

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marine City's Joe Mazure (88) hauls in a pass during Friday's Final. (Middle) Grand Rapids South Christian quarterback Jon Wassink breaks away for a gain. (Click to see more from Terry McNamara Photography.)

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.)