By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
There’s no pretending this football season hasn’t been a little different, for obvious reasons.
But every week seems to reintroduce something familiar – and looking at the statewide scoreboard after Week 6, it was the “first time since the last time” list.
If that’s a theme, Jonesville, Ann Arbor Huron, Centreville and Brimley are among the stars with accomplishments this week they hadn’t enjoyed in a while. Details are below as we take a glance again at the scores that jumped off the page most from the weekend’s action.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Grand Blanc 34, Lapeer 16 The Bobcats (2-1) had lost both regular-season and playoff games to Lapeer the last two seasons, last year by 34 and 28 points, respectively. But they handed the Lightning (2-1) only its second defeat during the regular season over the last three seasons. Click below for more from WJRT.
— ABC12WJRT (@ABC12WJRT) October 3, 2020
Watch list North Branch 27, Croswell-Lexington 20 The Broncos (3-0) handed the Pioneers (2-1) their first loss, a week after avenging last year’s loss to Almont. Up next is Richmond, the only other team that defeated North Branch during the 2019 regular season.
Remember this one Hemlock 48, Midland Bullock Creek 32 The Huskies (3-0) still see Millington, and Millington still faces Bullock Creek (1-2), and it’s likely some combination of those results determines the Tri-Valley Conference West I champion.
More shoutouts Sanford Meridian 28, Harrison 8 The Mustangs (3-0) kept themselves in the hunt for the Jack Pine Conference championship, with Meridian, Harrison (2-1) and Beaverton all trailing league leader Clare by a win. Goodrich 42, Lake Fenton 27 The Martians (2-1) did the same in the Flint Metro League Stars, holding on just a game back of league leader Ortonville Brandon after delivering Lake Fenton (2-1) its first defeat.
HEADLINER Clarkston 24, West Bloomfield 21 (OT) The Wolves showed they’re absolutely back after coming all the way back from a 21-7 deficit to edge the rival Lakers (2-1) in overtime. Clarkston (3-0) sits alone atop the Oakland Activities Association Red standings with as many wins as it earned all of last season. Click for more from the Oakland Press and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 3, 2020
Watch list Canton 21, Brighton 20 Canton is off to its first 3-0 start since 2015 and leads the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West after edging the reigning Division 1 runner-up Bulldogs (1-2).
Remember this one Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 42, Sterling Heights Stevenson 27 In the loaded six-team Macomb Area Conference Red, reigning champion Chippewa Valley (2-1) stopped previously-surging Stevenson (2-1) to create a four-way tie atop the standings.
More shoutouts Detroit Catholic Central 14, Warren De La Salle Collegiate 10 The Shamrocks (3-0) clinched a share of the Detroit Catholic League Central title, avenging last season’s 14-3 loss to the Pilots (1-2). Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 21, Whitmore Lake 7 The Lancers (3-0) sit atop the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference after finishing second to Whitmore Lake (1-2) a year ago.
HEADLINER Portland 21, Lansing Catholic 7 The Raiders (2-1) saw an overall six-game winning streak against Lansing Catholic end in last season’s District Final as the Cougars went on to win Division 5. But Portland ran its regular-season winning streak against Lansing Catholic (2-1) to six in a matchup that put the Raiders in solid position to win the Capital Area Activities Conference White title. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal and see highlights below from WLNS.
For a sixth straight year Portland (@RaidersPAA) wins the regular season showdown against CAAC White foe Lansing Catholic, topping the Cougars 21-7.
— Audrey Dahlgren (@AudreyDahlgren) October 3, 2020
Watch list New Lothrop 44, Montrose 15 The Hornets (3-0) appear the team to beat again in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference after improving on last year’s win over reigning league runner-up Montrose (2-1) – although Durand also is unbeaten and will have a say.
Remember this one Fowlerville 17, Holt 14 Morgyn Muck’s 44-yard last-minute go-ahead field goals surely won’t be forgotten soon by the Gladiators (2-1).
More shoutouts East Lansing 17, Lansing Waverly 0 The Trojans have produced outstanding receivers before him, but Andrel Anthony Jr. is resetting all the school’s receiving records, including for career yardage in this win. Lake Odessa Lakewood 43, Stockbridge 26 The Vikings (2-1) set themselves up to face Olivet this week with a share of the Greater Lansing Activities Conference title on the line.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Kingsley 36, Traverse City St. Francis 23 The Stags (3-0) took a major step toward repeating as Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends champions, as St. Francis (1-2) annually finishes among the top two in the division. Owen Graves piled up 287 yards rushing and scored four times for Kingsley. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Kingsley at Traverse City St. Francis football game from Friday night.
Video Courtesy: WPBN-TV
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 3, 2020
Watch list Manistee 42, Harbor Springs 20 Manistee (3-0) tuned up well for this week’s Lakes 8 Athletic Conference decider against Muskegon Catholic Central, handing Harbor Springs (2-1) its first defeat.
Remember this one Traverse City Central 41, Cadillac 17 The first-place Trojans (3-0) now own wins over the two teams tied for second in the Big North Conference, Cadillac (2-1) and Traverse City West.
More shoutouts Evart 29, Houghton Lake 22 The Wildcats (1-2) celebrated their first win, knocking Houghton Lake (2-1) out of a tie for first in the Highland Conference. East Jordan 30, St. Ignace 6 The Red Devils (2-1) had lost all four previous meetings to the Saints since they joined the NMFC Legacy together.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Jonesville 44, Reading 18 There are plenty of impressive numbers coming off the weekend’s most surprising score. Jonesville (2-1) hadn’t beaten Reading since 2014, having lost the last two meetings with the Rangers by a combined 112-0. Reading (2-1) hadn’t lost a Big 8 Conference game since 2016, and only one other regular-season game over the last three seasons. This sets Jonesville up to compete with Week 9 opponent Homer for this year’s league title – although Reading faces Homer first in Week 8. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.
Watch list Blissfield 28, Clinton 14 The Royals (3-0) are alone atop the Lenawee County Athletic Association with wins over two of three second-place teams and the third, Brooklyn Columbia Central, not on the shortened schedule.
Remember this one Ann Arbor Huron 18, Ann Arbor Pioneer 8 The Hurons (1-1) broke an 18-game losing streak to rival Pioneer (0-2) that went back to 2002.
More shoutouts Sand Creek 50, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 14 The Aggies’ first win over Whiteford since 2011 kept Sand Creek (3-0) tied for first in the Tri-County Conference. Chelsea 42, Schoolcraft 21 Scheduled after two other cancelations, this last-minute matchup pitted teams both often among the highly-ranked in their divisions.
HEADLINER Centreville 36, Cassopolis 7 The Bulldogs (3-0) not only scored their first points on Cassopolis since 2015, they defeated the Rangers (2-1) for the first time in 10 recent meetings. Cassopolis also hadn’t lost a league game since 2017. Centreville will play co-leader Mendon this week for a share of the Southwest 10 Conference championship. Click for more from JoeInsider.com.
Watch list Buchanan 31, Berrien Springs 15 The Bucks (3-0) have equaled last year’s win total and with another victory will guarantee their best finish since 2016. Buchanan had lost the last three Berrien Springs matchups by a combined 127-0.
Remember this one Constantine 55, Watervliet 6 The Falcons (2-1) locked up a Watervliet offense that had scored a combined 107 points in two wins to start the fall.
More shoutouts Paw Paw 49, Sturgis 0 The Trojans (2-1) have put themselves back in the football conversation in the Wolverine Conference, but Paw Paw (3-0) made sure the title talk still centers on itself and Week 9 opponent Edwardsburg. Kalamazoo United 44, Parchment 6 The Titans (3-0) remain in position to challenge for a third-straight Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore title.
HEADLINER Gladstone 28, Sault Ste. Marie 26 The has been a whirlwind start for Gladstone, which didn’t play in the opening “Week 4” and then defeated Negaunee by two Week 5 on just a few days of prep. And now, this past weekend, the Braves (2-0) edged a Sault Ste. Marie team (2-1) that appeared to be the U.P.’s best after its first two victories. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.
Watch list Marquette 10, Kingsford 0 The Redmen (2-1) ran their winning streak over Kingsford (2-1) to three and sit in good position to win the Great Northern Conference, with Menominee – which Marquette beat by 23 in Week 4 – up next.
Remember this one Negaunee 29, L’Anse 6 The Miners (2-1) bounced right back after a two-point loss to Gladstone two weeks ago.
More shoutouts Manistique 12, Bessemer 0 The Emeralds (1-2) picked up their first win of the season with their first defensive shutout since 2012. Bark River-Harris 43, Norway 12 The Broncos (1-2) also earned their first victory, putting up a big number after scoring a combined six points over the first two weeks.
HEADLINER Grand Rapids Catholic Central 42, Cedar Springs 28 The rebuilt Ottawa-Kent Conference this fall placed GRCC – coming off five straight league titles, most recently in the Blue – in the Gold with two-time reigning White champion Cedar Springs (2-1). Undefeated Grand Rapids South Christian still must face both, but the league race appears down to those three and with the Cougars and Sailors tied for the lead. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Cedar Springs at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (@GRCC_CougarsFB) football game from Friday night.
Video Courtesy: WXMI-TV
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) October 3, 2020
Watch list Byron Center 35, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 14 The Bulldogs (3-0), along with Lowell, have emerged as the frontrunners in the O-K White, with Forest Hills Central (2-1) and East Grand Rapids one game behind.
Remember this one Grand Rapids Union 59, Wyoming 57 Union’s 45-game losing streak, going back to 2015, came to an end in a game with so many points scored it will be included in the MHSAA record book at the end of the season.
More shoutouts Zeeland West 34, Zeeland East 14 With a third-straight win over the Chix (2-1), the Dux (3-0) moved into first place in the O-K Green with Muskegon Mona Shores. Grandville 21, Hudsonville 17 The Bulldogs (3-0) share the lead in the O-K Red with Rockford after breaking a two-game losing streak against the Eagles (2-1).
HEADLINER Gaylord St. Mary 54, Whittemore-Prescott 18 The Snowbirds (3-0) topped 50 points for the third time in three games, this time against a first-year 8-player program that had given up a combined 44 points over its first two weeks. St. Mary is averaging 55 points per game and certainly provided the Cardinals (2-1) their toughest 8-player challenge so far. Click for more from the Iosco County News-Herald.
Watch list Adrian Lenawee Christian 55, Climax-Scotts 8 Lenawee Christian continued its impressive start in 8-player, handing former 11-player foe Climax-Scotts (2-1) its first defeat of the fall and improving its scoring margin for the season to 141-14.
Remember this one New Buffalo 28, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 26 The Bison (3-0) have gone from contributing players to Bridgman as part of a cooperative team in 2018 to winning one game in its first season of 8-player a year ago, to putting together one of the strongest starts of 2020.
More shoutouts Brimley 42, Engadine 30 The Bays (1-2) broke a 15-game losing streak against Engadine and after falling 66-8 in last year’s meeting. Cedarville 32, Rapid River 20 The Trojans (2-1) had lost their three most recent games with Rapid River (2-1) by eight or fewer points each time.
PHOTO: Negaunee's Lukas Nelson (25) finds a brief opening Friday before L'Anse closes it up. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
Kingsley football fans have become pretty familiar with VIP parking for home games over the last couple of seasons.
They may just start looking for a Kingsley VIP lot at Ford Field. The Stags just captured the MHSAA Division 6 championship trophy with a 38-24 victory over Almont, their second Finals championship and first since 2005.
The road to the Finals started with Kingsley hosting two playoff games, allowing great use of the VIP Parking of Trina’s Touchdown Club. The lot is adjacent to the school’s Rodes Field and provided in loving memory of Katrina “Trina” Kay Schueller, who passed away Oct. 21, 2021, at Munson Medical Center.
Those playoff games filling Trina’s Touchdown Club’s parking lot featured wins over Mason County Central 61-12 and Manistee 37-18, and 51-27 over Gladstone in the Regional Final. Kingsley then traveled down the road and defeated Reed City 37-7 in the Semifinal.
There may not have been designated VIP parking in Cadillac and Ford Field for the Stags’ followers, but there were a lot of VIPs at both stadiums with Schueller on their minds. Pretty much everyone with an affiliation with the highly-successful program or familiarity with the community’s struggles have become VIPs to the Kingsley coaching staff and many others.
Most certainly among the VIPs are head coach Tim Wooer, assistant coach Conner Schueller, his brother Carter Schueller, and his father Mike Schueller.
Conner was set to play the biggest regular-season game of his career the day after his mom passed. It was the regular-season finale against rival Traverse City St. Francis.
Wooer vividly remembers the moments leading up to that matchup, noting how difficult it was for Conner. But his then-fullback and now-assistant coach demonstrated amazing strength and maturity he stills exhibits today.
“He’s in his senior football season, and his mom is in the hospital for four weeks — he’s balancing that playing football and going to school,” Wooer recalled. “And then she passes, and he has the strength to come back to school and deliver the news to our team.
“I am sobbing watching this kid, and I’m just amazed,” Wooer continued. “The next night is Parents Night, and he’s on the field with his dad and brother without his mom.”
Conner still played, making a 4th-down goal line tackle to prevent a St. Francis touchdown. The Gladiators won the game, but Conner won the day, conquering much just to dress for the game.
The Stags went on to playoff wins over Kingsford 28-10 and Clare 32-6. They bowed out with a 33-18 Regional loss to Frankenmuth.
Conner’s junior year of 2020 had been cut short as the Kingsley was forced to forfeit its District Final to Reed City because several players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. The Stags had Ford Field in their minds that season too after playoff wins over 38-13 Standish-Sterling 38-13 and Gladwin 63-16.
Conner, who celebrated his 20th birthday at Saturday’s Final, remembers his playing days and the challenges presented him.
“At the time it was ‘she’s not there,’ especially my senior year she wasn’t there to watch me and finish it out, but I know she’s watching above,” he said. “We were about to go play Reed City my junior year for Regionals, and everyone got sick and it ended our season unfortunately.”
Those challenges were on his mind at Ford Field, and running through his mind when he saw his brother and father in the stands. Carter, now a senior at Kingsley, had been unable to play football due to injuries.
“I thought about my brother – he unfortunately didn’t play this year due to his injuries, and I don’t really blame him for that,” Conner said. “I thought about him as well because it was just me and my dad and my brother now.
“It was very emotional,” Conner continued. “I got a glimpse of him in the strands.”
Carter also was filled with gratitude for the coaching staff for welcoming and mentoring him. He had become keenly aware of the amount of time coaches spend away from family at practices and going through film.
In addition to his family, Conner was thinking about many others in the Kingsley community – and other senior classes like his that didn’t get the chance to celebrate a championship.
He also was thinking about Justin Hansen, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley. Hansen was a captain on the 2002 conference championship team. He went on to become a special-operations Marine sergeant and was killed in action July 24, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan. Hansen was on patrol as part of an operation in search of a high-value target when his team was hit with small arms fire.
On Saturday, Wooer was wearing a red T-shirt with the letters “USA” on the front and the name “Hansen” on the back. It also featured the number 54, Hansen’s in high school.
Wooer, who turned 54 in July, wore the shirt in Hansen’s memory knowing Hansen would be on the veteran coach’s mind and symbolizing Hansen’s presence with the team at Ford Field.
Wooer wants to make sure Hanson is never forgotten and reminds the soldier’s family the entire community remains behind them.
“I believe it is part of our job as a community to show our love to this family and help in any way possible to help them get through this process,” Wooers said. “After the funeral, we all went about life.
“We certainly still think about Justin and feel the pain,” he continued. “But nothing like a family does.”
Hansen’s tragic passing led to the creation of the annual Patriot Game in Traverse City in 2012 while Wooer was coaching Traverse City West. The game features crosstown rivals West and Traverse City Central every year and strives to honor veterans, first responders, active duty military, and area heroes who died while serving their country.
Saturday’s win over Almont left Wooer emotionally exhausted after all the preparations to do it right for the senior class, the school, the Kingsley community, the Schueller family and Hansen. Collectively, they’ve really become more like a family to the Stags coaching staff and many, many others.
“In terms of emotions, there is no doubt Justin was on my mind throughout the game,” Wooer said. “Trina and Conner have been – those are two huge pieces.
“And, a lot of my thoughts are with the seniors,” he continued. “You want to win the game, but also it is your last time with them.”
Wooer has learned a lot from his former players and coaches over the years. He’s become close friends with many of them, going back to his early days of coaching as a student-teacher at Elk Rapids. He also coached at Farewell and Traverse City West, the latter from 2008-2017 after a first tenure at Kingsley. He returned to Kingsley in 2018.
Schueller is among several former players and coaches who have been on Wooer’s coaching staffs over the years. Several continue today.
“I could give you lots of other stories about kids I have had,” Wooer said. “There comes this transition where they turn into such amazing men, you catch yourself every once in a while saying, ‘I want to be like him.’
“You get this huge smile on your face because you’re so proud of them, just like a mother or father would,” Wooer continued. “A coach always looks at his players like they’re part of his family.”
In addition to Conner, current assistants with long-term relationships with Wooer are Tom Kaleita, Kyle Smith, Ryan Zenner, Dan Goethals, Josh Merchant, Jordan Bradford, Steve Klinge, Connor Schueller, Mike Arlt, Larry Mikowski, Bobby Howell, Rob Whims and Jason Morrow.
This year’s seniors were Jon Pearson, Eli Graves, Skylar Workman, Gavyn Merchant, Max Goethals, Evan Trafford, Bode Bielas, Grant Kolbusz, James Person, Caleb Bott, Trenton Peacock, Noah Scribner and Gavin Dear. They and the coaching staff will be the center of attention as the community celebrates the football team at 7 p.m. this evening in the high school gymnasium.
The seniors probably won’t need VIP parking tonight. But if it would help, Conner would surely make arrangements to utilize Trina’s Touchdown Club. He’d have to add a shuttle though as Rodes Field is about a mile away from the school.
“It feels amazing — I don’t think it really hit any one yet, but I am sure it will,” Conner said. “After we won, it is truly something – it is something else I can’t explain.
“The seniors finally won it the way they were supposed to,” he continued. “It was a good class of seniors.”
Tom 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 [email protected] 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) Kingsley students support their classmates during Saturday’s Division 6 Final at Ford Field. (2) Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back. (3) Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right. (4) Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. (Ford Field photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; touchdown club photo courtesy of the Kingsley football program.)