1st & Goal: 2021 Week 4 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 17, 2021

For the last 20 years, we would have entered Week 4 of football season discussing how many teams would have to win the rest of their games to guarantee making the playoffs.

MI Student AidBut the six-wins-and-in era is done (and never existed for 8-player), and there’s still plenty of time for every team to impact its destiny – especially with only 130 of 598 teams still undefeated and 12 more sure to fall off that list this weekend.

MHSAA.tv will carry 170 games live this weekend, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Traverse City Central/Traverse City West matchup on its PLUS cable channel. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center and see below for some of the games with the most intriguing storylines as we take another step toward the regular season’s midpoint.

Bay & Thumb

Davison (1-2) at Grand Blanc (3-0)

This is the fourth season these two will meet in the Saginaw Valley League Red, and Davison has won all four meetings of the recent series including for a Division 1 District title last year. Coming off three one-score wins over highly-touted foes – East Lansing, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and Midland Dow – Grand Blanc could be ready to take its turn in the rivalry. But the Cardinals’ record is deceptive. Coming off last season’s second-straight trip to the Division 1 Final, Davison opened this fall with losses to Clarkston and then Detroit Catholic Central, falling by just three to the still-undefeated Wolves.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Mount Pleasant (3-0) at Midland Dow (2-1), Standish-Sterling (3-0) at Millington (3-0), Freeland (3-0) at Essexville Garber (3-0), Harbor Beach (2-1) at Ubly (3-0).

Greater Detroit

Warren De La Salle Collegiate (2-0) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (3-0)

The four Detroit Catholic League Central teams are a combined 10-1 this fall, and this week begins a must-see title race. These two have opened league play against each other since 2010, with seven meetings (including one in the playoffs) decided by seven or fewer points. Rice won the 2019 matchup 16-14 and last year 27-25, but the Pilots followed up the latter by reaching the Division 2 Final for the third time in four seasons. The Warriors haven’t given up a point since a season-opening win over Macomb Dakota, but De La Salle can claim the biggest headliner so far after downing last season’s Division 3 runner-up River Rouge 38-29 in Week 2.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grosse Pointe South (2-1) at Romeo (3-0), Detroit Country Day (3-0) at South Lyon (3-0), Marine City (3-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (3-0), Southfield Arts & Technology (2-1) at Clarkston (3-0).

Mid-Michigan

Haslett (2-1) at Mason (2-1)

Last week’s Mason comeback win over Williamston thrust this game quickly into the spotlight as it’s almost sure to have Capital Area Activities Conference Red implications. Mason has won the league the last two seasons, while Haslett is returning to contention – the Vikings already have as many wins this fall as in 2020 and 2019, and they need one more point to also equal last year’s scoring over seven games. Both of these teams have intriguing offensive skill players, but both also needed time last week to get rolling – Williamston trailed 27-13 at halftime before winning 34-27, and Haslett was up 7-0 at halftime on the way to defeating Lansing Eastern 33-14. Getting on track first could be key.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Lake City (3-0) at Beal City (2-1), Big Rapids (2-1) at Central Montcalm (3-0), Holt (2-1) at DeWitt (2-1), Lansing Everett (2-1) at Grand Ledge (3-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City West (3-0) vs. Traverse City Central (2-1) at Thirlby Field

The annual “Patriot Game” is the place to be in northern Michigan – crowds every season of 10,000+ would agree – and this year’s chapter could read more like the one-score classics from most of the last decade after less-characteristic big wins (both by Central) the last two seasons. They’ll go together into the Saginaw Valley League for football next season, and started their final Big North Conference schedules last week with wins – West 21-7 over last season’s Division 4 runner-up Cadillac. The only loss by either so far has been Central’s season opener to reigning Division 3 champion DeWitt.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Traverse City St. Francis (3-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (1-2), Frankfort (2-1) at Oscoda (2-1), Harbor Springs (1-2) at Boyne City (3-0), Petoskey (3-0) at Gaylord (1-2).

Southeast & Border

Michigan Center (3-0) at Addison (3-0)

Addison has won two straight Cascades Conference titles and 16 straight league games, but this will be its first matchup with Michigan Center since 2019. They didn’t see each other during last year’s abbreviated regular season, although the Cardinals finished second in the league with a loss coming to Hanover-Horton. Addison has outscored its three opponents so far – including Hanover-Horton last week – by a combined 145-35. But the Cardinals have been just as impressive if not more – outscoring their three opponents 136-0, including a 42-0 avenging against Hanover-Horton in Week 2.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (3-0) at Milan (3-0), Monroe (2-1) at Saline (3-0), Ann Arbor Huron (2-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-0), Clinton (2-1) at Ida (2-1).

Southwest Corridor

Vicksburg (3-0) at Edwardsburg (3-0)

It’s early, of course, but statistically this Edwardsburg team is following the pattern of its best over the last decade. The offense has scored more every week, from 38 to 55 to 61 against Niles in the latest win, and the defense has given up seven points total. Next up are the Bulldogs, who lost twice to Edwardsburg last season but have been a playoff team five of the last seven years. The three opponents the Eddies defeated are all 2-1, and league rivals are lined up – undefeated Plainwell is next after Vicksburg, with Paw Paw coming up in Week 6.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Three Rivers (2-1) at Niles (2-1), Battle Creek Lakeview (2-1) at Battle Creek Central (2-1), White Pigeon (3-0) at Comstock (2-1), St. Joseph (3-0) at Kalamazoo Central (1-2).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (2-1) at Ishpeming (1-1)

This rivalry will be restored after Ishpeming did not field a varsity last season. The Patriots solidly ended a 23-game losing streak to the Hematites the last time they met, however, claiming the 2019 matchup 38-0. Westwood’s fast start this fall ran into an obstacle last week with a loss to Calumet, but there would hardly be a better way to pick back up than with a win tonight. Ishpeming was off last week and has had plenty of time to prepare for a game that could pay big dividends toward its rebound as well.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Kingsford (3-0) at Marquette (2-1), Iron Mountain (1-2) at L'Anse (2-1), Negaunee (2-1) at Manistique (2-1). SATURDAY Houghton (2-1) at Bark River-Harris (3-0).

West Michigan

Muskegon Oakridge (3-0) at Montague (2-1)

A fresh start with some new faces saw Montague shut out in Week 1 by a strong Edwardsburg team. But the reigning Division 6 champion Wildcats stormed right back with back-to-back shutouts the last two weeks of North Muskegon and Hart. And they could get another big boost against rival Oakridge, which they’ve beaten three of the last four seasons including 42-6 a year ago. The Eagles are coming off a forfeit win/bye last week but already own a pair of solid wins over Sparta and Whitehall. Another this week combined with the Week 2 victory over the Vikings would put the Eagles in pretty strong position in the West Michigan Conference title race.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Zeeland West (2-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (2-1), East Grand Rapids (1-2) at Byron Center (3-0), Manton (2-1) at Evart (3-0), Grand Rapids South Christian (2-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (3-0).

8-Player

Mendon (3-0) at Bridgman (3-0)

These two are likely league title contenders in the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 and 2, respectively. Mendon had been one of the last southwestern holdouts its size before switching to 8-player football for this fall, and the Hornets brought a run of 13 winning seasons over their last 14 with them. So far so good after the switch, as the offense is averaging just more than 63 points per game. Bridgman successfully made the switch in 2018 and is a combined 18-2 since the move. The Bees are scoring 55 points per game so far – but more notably for this matchup, giving up only seven.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Adrian Lenawee Christian (3-0) at Athens (3-0), Norway (2-1) at Ironwood (2-1), Lawrence (3-0) at Morrice (3-0). SATURDAY Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-1) at Powers North Central (3-0).

Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Ishpeming's Preston Gauthier (37) is chased by Manistique's Austin Hinkson (24) during their teams’ Week 1 matchup. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)

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.)