Moment: Streak-Ender Highlights 1st Finals

December 11, 2020

By John Johnson
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

It’s been 45 years since the first MHSAA Football Playoffs took place, a two-week, 16-team tournament with the top teams of each of four regions in all four classes finally settling gridiron championships on the playing field.

In that first year, cries of “U.P. Power” thundered through the stands at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo and the new Perry Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant as Crystal Falls Forest Park and Ishpeming claimed the 1975 titles in Classes D and C respectively. Bill Santilli ran wild for 179 yards on 37 carries and three touchdowns as the Trojans manhandled Flint Holy Rosary, 50-0, in the Class D game. But the Class C affair was one for the ages - perhaps the biggest upset in the history of the finals.

It was billed as David and Goliath. The mighty Hudson Tigers roared north to Mt. Pleasant riding a 72-game winning streak, which would stand as a national record until 1992; and is still a state record, only threatened once by a 69-game skein by Ithaca which ended in the 2014 Finals. Hudson had also laid claim to mythical state titles in Class C the three previous seasons. Ishpeming’s pedigree dated back to 1900, when it won the first of three straight - and of four in a five-year period - state titles in a championship conducted at and by the University of Michigan, primarily for the purpose of recruiting for Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines football program. The Hematites, having their best season in 15 years, had even lost a regular-season game along the way to a 9-0 Marquette squad that didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

On a cold, windy day at Central Michigan University, Ishpeming struck first and struck hard. Four minutes into the game, Tom Andriacchi blocked a Hudson punt and returned it to the Tigers' 10-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Mark Marana kept the ball on the option and scored from two yards out. On its next possession just midway through the first period, the Hematites ripped off a 61-yard drive capped by a three-yard scoring run by Dave Farragh, and Ishpeming was up 16-0.

Hudson rallied following the ensuing kickoff with its first score, a 28-yard pass from Chris Luma to Dan Salamin, but the Hematites came right back with their third score of the opening frame, a 60-yard run by Mike Dellangelo to give Ishpeming all the points it would need.

The two teams traded scores in the second period, when Hudson then missed a golden opportunity to tighten things up just before halftime, fumbling at the Hematites' 2-yard line and with Ishpeming recovering for a touchback.

Dellangelo picked up a second TD in the third quarter, and finished the game with 156 of Ishpeming’s 336 rushing yards in the 38-22 victory.

“It wasn’t hard getting our guys up for the game,” Hematites coach Mike Mileski told Central Michigan Life after the game. “The emotion factor was a ready-made thing considering Hudson’s streak …”

Our action footage this week comes courtesy of Brian Sarvello, a member of that 1975 Ishpeming team. About 17 minutes film from that game was assembled with some of the local radio station call into a DVD that was shared with the team several years ago. We found it in a random internet search for this most recent series of MHSAA Moments, and appreciate Mr. Sarvello’s help in bringing it to you.

If you know of championship game footage from those pre-television years (1975-88) of the MHSAA Football Finals, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line at

PHOTO: Ishpeming's Mark Marana works to break away from a tackler during the 1975 Class C Final. (MHSAA file photo). 

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.)