Moore Making Case as Best of Martin Luther King's QB Greats

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

October 7, 2021

It might come as no surprise to many, but we could be watching the best quarterback that's ever been a part of the rich football history at Detroit Martin Luther King.

Let's begin with Darnell Dickerson, an `86 King graduate. Dickerson was the Detroit News' No. 1 Blue Chip prospect and went on to play at Pittsburgh. More recently there's Dequan Finn, who led King to the 2016 Division 2 title. Finn is currently the back-up quarterback at Toledo.  

Now there's Dante Moore. Moore (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) is still a junior, so there's still much for him to accomplish, and for us to witness, at King.

As a freshman, Moore led the Crusaders to the Division 2 title game before they lost to Muskegon Mona Shores, 35-26. Last season, King lost to River Rouge, 33-30, in a Division 3 Regional Final. This season, King is 5-1 and one of the favorites to win the Division 3 title. Its only loss was Carmel High, 42-40. Carmel (6-1) is one of the top teams in Indiana.

Tyrone Spencer is in his sixth season as King's head coach and he realizes, with Moore, he has a special player.

“He's very poised, mature for his age,” Spencer said. “He's a class act on and off the field. He's got a great arm and great accuracy.”

Moore, 16, attended a number of camps throughout the country this past summer including many in the South including at Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia. At the Elite 11 camp in California, Moore was able to gauge how he measures up to a number of the top quarterbacks in the country, many of whom are a year older, and he more than held his own.

In only four games on the field (two wins came by forfeit), Moore has completed 67 of 95 pass attempts, for 1,280 yards and 17 touchdowns. He's received 27 scholarship offers including from Michigan and Michigan State.

Despite all of the hype Moore has received, he remains grounded. He's a quiet leader, but a leader nonetheless. As a sophomore he was elected captain, a rarity for any program but especially one as successful as King.

Detroit Martin Luther King football“I remember my first snap (as a freshman) against Detroit Catholic Central at Wayne State,” he said. “It was crazy. Now I'm a junior, and I'm just thankful being with my teammates at a school like King.”

Moore was King's starter from day one, and he remembers well that first game against DCC – a 24-22 defeat against the Shamrocks, who went on to share the Detroit Catholic League Central title.

“It was crazy, taking my first snap,” Moore said. “Now I'm a junior. It goes so fast.”

Life has its twists and turns, and Moore has had his share. Born in East Cleveland, Ohio, Moore and his family moved to Detroit when he was 5. His father grew up in the Detroit area and went to Southfield High, where he competed in basketball, football and track, and job opportunities brought Otha Moore and his family back to Detroit.

But before all that took place, Moore and his family had moved to Lorain, located just west of Cleveland, then they went to live with his grandmother on a farm in Lancaster, located just southeast of Columbus. Too young to be responsible for chores such as milking cows and such, Moore did get a taste of farm life and the early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle.

In addition to football, Moore began playing soccer at an early age. From second grade through eighth Moore was on the pitch either as a goalkeeper or a striker. He credits that sport for improving his footwork. When asked if he'd play soccer if King sponsored the sport, Moore quickly replied yes and admits he misses the game. He does get a few opportunities to show those foot skills; Moore is King's punter and has handled the place-kicking duties at times.

There was a transitionary period, country life to the big city, but Moore said because he's the out-going type, it didn't take him long to make new friends. It was this type of personality that years later would lead to a relationship that would not only grow into a strong friendship, but one that would have a lasting effect on his development as a quarterback.

While working out at a Southfield health club, Moore recognized Devin Gardner – the former Inkster star and Michigan quarterback/receiver – going through his workout. Moore wasn't going miss out on this chance meeting. He introduced himself, and they almost instantly became friends. For the past three years or so, Gardner has worked with Moore, mostly during the offseason. But rarely does a week go by when the two don’t talk about football, school, you name it.

“We talk about anything,” Moore said. “We tell each other jokes. We go to fairs together. He gives me advice on how to be a better man in my life. He's making an impact. He gets me mentally prepared.”

Moore first acknowledges his father as the one who's had the greatest impact in his life – athletically, emotionally and socially. After that, it's his other family – the King coaching staff – who has played such an important part in his development.

First there's Spencer, then there's quarterback coach Jerrell Noland – a former King quarterback (2007 graduate) who played at Kentucky State – and Terel Patrick, King's offensive coordinator. Both Spencer and Patrick coached under one of the icons in Detroit's coaching history, James Reynolds, and Patrick like Noland also played for Reynolds.

“I lean on (Patrick's) shoulder,” Moore said. “He helps me break down film and be prepared. It's not all about football at King. It's family.”

As for college, Moore has placed those decisions on hold until after the season.

“I'm just thankful I have the opportunity to play at a school like King,” he said. “I'm concentrating on the season and winning a state title. At the end of the season, I'll narrow down my choices.”

Tom Markowski primarily covered high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. He also is a former correspondent and web content director for State Champs! Sports Network. Contact him at with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS (Top) King quarterback Dante Moore (5) avoids the pressure during a 41-34 Week 3 win over Detroit Cass Tech. (Middle) Moore interviews after the game with Bally Sports Detroit. (Photos by Quintin Love Jr.)

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.)