Rivalries play out every week of the nine-game football regular season – but a few we watch for every fall top the Week 7 schedule.
Neighbors Port Huron and Port Huron Northern will face off with a league title on the line, as will Marquette and Menominee, and the Muskegon High/Mona Shores matchup will decide first place in their conference as well. Saline/Temperance Bedford and St. Joseph/Stevensville Lakeshore will have similar impacts.
MHSAA.tv will carry more than 175 games live this weekend, with Bally Sports Detroit broadcasting Friday's Rockford/Caledonia game on its primary cable channel and State Champs! Sports Network streaming Saturday's Warren Michigan Collegiate/Harper Woods Chandler Park matchup. See the full schedule from the MHSAA Score Center.
Also, circle Oct. 24 on your calendars and tune your TVs to Bally Sports Detroit’s primary channel for the MHSAA’s annual football playoff selection show, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. The fields and full brackets for 11 and 8-player will be announced.
(Games below are Friday unless noted.)
Bay & Thumb
Port Huron (5-1) at Port Huron Northern (6-0)
This rivalry this season will be a championship decider with the winner tonight claiming the Macomb Area Conference Blue title outright. Port Huron is the reigning champion and won last year’s meeting 20-7, and actually has claimed the last two matchups as these teams split regular season and playoff games in 2019. It’s very possible this will be just the first chapter again this fall; Northern is ranked No. 5 in Division 2 and the Big Reds are No. 14. They’re succeeding with different strengths; Port Huron has scored 28 or more points in five straight games since an opening-night loss to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, while the Huskies are scoring less but giving up only eight points per game.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Reese (5-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (5-1), Goodrich (5-1) at Lake Fenton (5-1), Midland Dow (4-2) at Lapeer (5-1), Swartz Creek (3-3) at Flushing (3-3).
Romeo (5-1) at Sterling Heights Stevenson (5-1)
After a few tough seasons playing in one of the state’s strongest leagues, Stevenson got rolling last fall and hasn’t stopped. The Titans shared the 2020 MAC Red title but can finish an outright championship tonight – while a Romeo win would mean a shared title between the two as the Bulldogs fell by three points to Clinton Township Chippewa Valley two weeks ago. Stevenson has scored at least 30 points every game, including a Week 1 loss to still-unbeaten Rockford, while Romeo excels defensively and has given up 13 or fewer points in all of their five wins (but 37 in the loss to the Big Reds). Stevenson won last season’s meeting with Romeo 14-7.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (6-0) at Dearborn Fordson (5-1), Allen Park (5-1) at Harper Woods (5-1), Detroit Osborn (4-2) at Detroit Pershing (4-2). SATURDAY Harper Woods Chandler Park (4-2) at Warren Michigan Collegiate (4-2).
Gladwin (6-0) at Clare (4-2)
The Flying G’s also took a big jump in 2020 and have guaranteed their most successful finish since 2014. They can add tonight a share of their first Jack Pine Conference championship since 2002, their first season in the league. Gladwin is scoring nearly 63 points per game and has five shutouts in six games – the only points given up were 18 three weeks ago in a 40-point win. But the JPC road always goes through reigning champ Clare, and the Pioneers have defeated the Flying G’s all 19 seasons they’ve been in the league together, including 41-30 a year ago. Clare’s defeats this season are to Freeland and Marquette teams that are a combined 10-2.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Carson City-Crystal (6-0) at Breckenridge (4-2), Lansing Catholic (6-0) at Charlotte (4-2), New Lothrop (4-2) at Durand (5-1), Olivet (4-2) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (4-2).
Northern Lower Peninsula
Boyne City (5-1) at Mancelona (5-0)
Mancelona’s best start since back-to-back 10-1 finishes in 2011 and 2012 fast forwards this week into what could be an unforgettable regular-season conclusion with Boyne City this week also undefeated in Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders play and Week 8 opponent Charlevoix only a game back. The Ironmen are coming off an open date and have had a little more time to prepare for a Ramblers team that lost only to Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago but bounced back big last week against Kalkaska. Boyne City has played one more league game than Mancelona and can clinch a share of the league title if victorious tonight; the Ramblers already own a 27-8 Week 2 win over Charlevoix as well. Boyne City won last season’s meeting 48-6.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Petoskey (3-3) at Cadillac (4-2), Harbor Springs (1-5) at Frankfort (5-1), Traverse City Central (5-1) at Alpena (1-5), Charlevoix (5-1) at Kalkaska (1-5).
Southeast & Border
Saline (6-0) at Temperance Bedford (5-1)
The last time Saline lost a Southeastern Conference Red game was Week 5 of 2013 – to Temperance Bedford. This matchup has determined the league champion three times since the Kicking Mules claimed the title that season, and Saline has a one-game edge heading into this weekend thanks to Bedford’s one-point loss to Ann Arbor Huron in Week 4. Three of the last five games between these two have been decided by one score – although Saline won last season 56-14. The Hornets are ranked No. 3 in Division 1, while Bedford is No. 6 in Division 2 from a league that also has Huron at No. 10 in Division 1, Dexter slated to make the playoffs and Monroe only one spot away from doing the same with three games to play.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Sand Creek (4-2) at Erie Mason (4-2), Napoleon (5-1) at Michigan Center (5-1), Dundee (4-2) at Clinton (4-2), Chelsea (6-0) at Tecumseh (3-3).
Stevensville Lakeshore (5-1) at St. Joseph (5-1)
The Bears lost an overtime heartbreaker last week to Portage Central but have had to rebound quickly with this game now pitting two of the three teams sitting in first place in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference. Lakeshore has defeated St. Joseph in nine of their last 10 meetings, including 26-0 and then 14-9 in the playoffs a year ago – when the Lancers were the only team to defeat the Bears. Lakeshore’s loss this fall came against Portage Northern in Week 4, and it won by four against Portage Central in the season opener. St. Joseph downed Northern 21-3 in Week 3.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY South Haven (5-1) at Berrien Springs (6-0), Vicksburg (5-1) at Plainwell (5-1), Cassopolis (4-2) at White Pigeon (5-1), Watervliet (4-2) at Kalamazoo United (4-2).
Menominee (4-2) at Marquette (5-1)
This matchup once again will decide the Great Northern Conference title, as Marquette can clinch the championship outright with a win and Menominee can clinch a share with a Week 9 meeting with Kingsford left on the GNC schedule. Marquette has won the last two league titles outright after sharing with Escanaba in 2018, and its only loss this season came Week 2 against Traverse City Central, which can clinch the Big North Conference title outright this week. Menominee’s losses both qualify as good ones – both came to Wisconsin teams that are 6-1, and because of that the Maroons are No. 13 in Division 6. Marquette is No. 16 in Division 3 coming off a one-point win last week over Clare (mentioned above).
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hancock (3-3) at Iron Mountain (3-3), L'Anse (3-3) at Ishpeming Westwood (5-1), Traverse City St. Francis (6-0) at Sault Ste. Marie (4-2). SATURDAY Calumet (4-2) at Houghton (4-2).
Muskegon (5-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-1)
Undefeated Caledonia and Rockford meet with first place on the line in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red, but it’s tough these days to not call Muskegon High/Mona Shores this region’s top game of any week. They are tied atop the O-K Green, both having lost to Detroit Public School League powers (Muskegon to Cass Tech and Mona Shores to Martin Luther King). The Big Reds haven’t given up a point since Week 3 and before that allowed just 20 to a Zeeland West team averaging nearly 40 per game. Mona Shores will counter with an offense averaging 47 points per game. The Sailors won last season’s meeting 21-14 on the way to eventually claiming their second-straight Division 2 championship.
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Caledonia (6-0) at Rockford (6-0), Manistee (4-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (5-1), Grand Rapids Christian (3-3) at Byron Center (6-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (6-0) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (6-0).
Mendon (5-1) at Martin (6-0)
The winner receives a share of the Southwest Michigan 8-Man Football League Tier 1 title, and this will be their first meeting since 1997. Martin is in the midst of its third season as a force in 8-player football, and Mendon made the format switch this fall and has only a nonleague loss to Bridgman keeping it from a matching perfect start. Subtract that defeat, when the Hornets were shut out, and they’re averaging 58 points per game in their wins. Martin no doubt will incorporate a little bit of what worked for the Bees to augment a defense that has given up only a combined 18 points in five games played (the sixth win was a forfeit).
Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Suttons Bay (6-0) at Marion (6-0), Waldron (5-1) at Tekonsha (4-2), Pickford (5-1) at Newberry (5-1), Genesee (4-1) at Morrice (6-0).
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PHOTO Muskegon's defense readies for the snap this season against Detroit Cass Tech. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“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.
Guillean 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.”
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.
Gribler 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)