1st & Goal: 2021 Week 2 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 1, 2021

Last week's return to "normal" football was as good as anticipated, if not better. And the good news is we're just getting started. 

As we cruise into Labor Day weekend, the great majority of Week 2 games will again be played Thursday. Additionally, more than 150 games will be viewable live on MHSAA.tv, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Detroit Cass Tech at Muskegon game on its PLUS cable channel and State Champs! Sports Network streaming live Saturday's Grand Rapids Catholic Central game against Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center.

In addition to our weekly glance at some of the games to watch in every corner of our state, we're also introducing a new feature for this season -- an "Unforgettable 5ive" of highlights from MHSAA.tv and media partner broadcasts. See below for our Week 1 5ive, which includes the following: 

► Marquette's Jordan Demay with the Pick 6 in Marquette's 49-14 win over Alpena.
► Clinton Township Chippewa Valley's Cephus Harris with the 60-yard TD run in a 45-20 win over Detroit Catholic Central.
► Dearborn Fordson's Alex Osman connecting with Antonio Gates Jr. for a 37-yard TD in Fordson's 38-23 win over Canton.
► DeWitt's Tyler Holtz throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Kurncz in DeWitt's 47-27 win over Traverse City Central.
► Grand Blanc's Elijah Jackson-Anderson sealing a 40-34 win over East Lansing with a 40-yard TD run.

Bay & Thumb

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (1-0) at Ubly (1-0), Thursday

Both got off to solid starts last week, Laker downing Flint Beecher and Ubly upending Unionville-Sebewaing. By October, both could be contending for league championships as well. Ubly was third in the Greater Thumb Conference East last season, while Laker came in third in the GTC West.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Saginaw Swan Valley (0-1) at Frankenmuth (1-0), Saginaw Nouvel (1-0) at Millington (1-0). FRIDAY North Branch (1-0) at Croswell-Lexington (0-1), Lapeer (0-1) at Midland (0-1).

Greater Detroit 

Muskegon Mona Shores (1-0) at Detroit Martin Luther King (0-1), Friday

Mona Shores began its drive last week for a third-straight Division 2 championship with a 42-point win over Lowell, and they’ve lined up 2019 Finals foe King for a second-straight regular-season meeting. The Sailors have won both of those last two matchups, and the Crusaders also have plenty driving them from last week’s 42-40 loss to Indiana power Carmel – decided on a 35-yard touchdown catch on the game’s final play.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Davison (0-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (0-1), West Bloomfield (0-1) at Oak Park (0-1), River Rouge (1-0) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (1-0), Dearborn (1-0) at Belleville (1-0).

Mid-Michigan

Lansing Catholic (1-0) at Williamston (1-0), Thursday

Formerly league rivals until 2018, both again have league title aspirations after the Capital Area Activities Conference didn’t award championships last season due to the shortened schedule. Williamston, from the CAAC Red, set the tone coming off last year’s Division 4 Semifinal trip by doubling up Croswell-Lexington on the road last week. Lansing Catholic, in the CAAC White, made the Division 5 Semifinals last season and doubled up Lansing Waverly in its opener.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Lansing Everett (1-0) at Lansing Eastern (1-0), DeWitt (1-0) at Portland (1-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (1-0) at Laingsburg (1-0), Jackson (1-0) at Grand Ledge (1-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Maple City Glen Lake (1-0) at Kingsley (1-0), Thursday

These are two more who could emerge as league champions over the next eight weeks. Kingsley – from the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends division – has made the best of last year’s unfortunate circumstance, when the undefeated Stags were unable to take the field for their District Final. Kingsley opened with a 54-8 win over McBain, last season’s Highland Conference champion. Glen Lake was second in the NMFC Leaders last fall, ending a four-year league title streak, but opened last week with a 35-6 win over 2020 Highland co-runner-up Houghton Lake.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Marquette (1-0) at Traverse City Central (0-1). FRIDAY Grand Haven (1-0) at Traverse City West (1-0), Escanaba (1-0) at Petoskey (1-0), Grayling (1-0) at Traverse City St. Francis (1-0).

Southeast & Border

Erie Mason (1-0) at Hudson (1-0), Thursday

The Eagles were one of the best stories of the 2020 season, breaking a string of 15 straight sub-.500 finishes to win the Tri-County Conference in their first season in the league. If this fall’s Week 1 is an indication, former Lenawee County Athletic Association foe Hudson could be a candidate for a similar 2021. The Tigers earned some statewide attention with a 59-14 opening win over annual power Ithaca.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Jonesville (1-0) at Homer (0-1), Ida (1-0) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (1-0), Michigan Center (1-0) at Hanover-Horton (1-0), Harper Woods (1-0) at Pinckney (1-0).

Southwest Corridor

Three Rivers (1-0) at Edwardsburg (1-0), Thursday

Even with reigning Division 6 champion Montague undergoing a bit of a fresh start, few results jumped off the page more last week than the Eddies’ 38-0 win in their opening matchup. A little more undercover but intriguing also was Three Rivers’ 36-34 overtime win over Paw Paw, the most frequent runner-up of late to Edwardsburg’s Wolverine Conference dominance. Three Rivers’ victory also gave it as many wins as it totaled all last season, and this week will be another opportunity to show what’s possible.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Niles Brandywine (1-0) at Cassopolis (1-0), Schoolcraft (0-1) at Centreville (0-1), Battle Creek Pennfield (1-0) at Marshall (1-0), Kalamazoo Hackett Prep (0-1) at Stevensville Lakeshore (1-0).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (1-0) at Iron Mountain (1-0), Thursday

The Mountaineers have a chance to stake a pretty serious claim as Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper favorites if they can add a win over Westwood to last week’s two-pointer over Negaunee. The Patriots similarly would enjoy a major boost with another Copper contender, Calumet, up next. Iron Mountain and Westwood have split their last four meetings on the field.  

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Calumet (0-1) at Negaunee (1-0), Bark River-Harris (1-0) at West Iron County (0-0). FRIDAY Gladstone (1-0) at Kingsford (1-0), Marinette, Wis. (0-2) at Menominee (1-0).

West Michigan

Detroit Cass Tech at Muskegon, Friday 

This was another anticipated matchup that couldn’t be played last fall because of the late start, but this would be a massive draw any season. Both are coming off big wins, and as in years past both feature plenty of future college players. The Technicians are riding a 10-game regular-season winning streak – but Muskegon has lost only twice at home over the last six seasons.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Cedar Springs (1-0) at Rockford (1-0), Muskegon Oakridge (1-0) at Whitehall (1-0). FRIDAY Grand Blanc (1-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (1-0), East Grand Rapids (0-1) at Grand Rapids South Christian (1-0). 

8-Player

Hale (1-0) at Pellston (1-0), Friday

Pellston is a combined 15-3 over the last two seasons, and Hale is 12-6 over the same span of time – and Pellston won their league matchups in 2018 and 2019 before both moved into different conferences and didn’t play each other last season. This return of the series could feature strength on strength. Hale hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game since last season’s opener, while Pellston’s 64 points last week followed the 45+ they scored six times a year ago.

Keep an eye on these: THURSDAY Marion (1-0) at Brethren (0-1), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (1-0) at Deckerville (0-0). FRIDAY Rapid River (0-1) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (1-0), Ironwood (1-0) at Ontonagon (1-0).

PHOTO: Capac and New Haven kicked off their season last week. Capac, returning after playing only one game a year ago, won 22-0. (Photo by Robert Batzloff.)

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

December 14, 2022

LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.

Southwest Corridor“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.

“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”

Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.

“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.

Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.

As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.

He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.

“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.

John GuilleanGuillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.

“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.

Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.

At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.

“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”

Great anticipation

Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.

In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.

Derek GriblerGribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.

“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”

Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.

“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”

In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.

“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.

“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”

Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.

“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”

Big shoes to fill

As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.

Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.

Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.

Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.

“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.

As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”

His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.

He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.

“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”

Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.

“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.

“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at pamkzoo@aol.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)