1st & Goal: Week 7 Preview

October 8, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The sun sets a little earlier as we move toward mid-October – this year allowing Friday Night Lights to shine as an even more present reminder that teams are enjoying an opportunity to play during an otherwise topsy-turvy fall.

This weekend begins the second half of the shortened regular season, and 2020’s storylines are beginning to take shape – with a number of league title contenders hoping to write in key details over the next two days.

Below is a look at games of particular note in every corner of Michigan – not including a handful played Thursday night, including key southwestern matchups between Centreville and Mendon and Kalamazoo United and Watervliet. Find scores for those and the schedule as we know it, and then results this weekend as they’re reported – via the MHSAA Score Center.

This week’s broadcast schedule includes 55 varsity football games on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings.

Bay & Thumb

Port Huron Northern (2-0) at Port Huron (3-0)

The last three meetings between these neighbors were decided by six, three and seven points, and this could be a similar classic with the Macomb Area Conference Blue title on the line. The Huskies are riding a three-game regular-season winning streak in the series, but have played just two games this season and won both by seven or fewer points. They’ll have to contend with a Port Huron defense that has given up only a combined 35 points over three wins and won a playoff rematch with Northern in 2019.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Saginaw Swan Valley (2-1) at Freeland (2-1), Clare (3-0) at Gladwin (2-1), Cass City (3-0) at Unionville-Sebewaing (2-1), Richmond (1-2) at North Branch (3-0).

Greater Detroit

Clarkston (3-0) at Lake Orion (2-0)

The Wolves are coming into this matchup off a come-from-behind overtime win over West Bloomfield, avenging a 2019 loss. Clarkston can avenge another tonight after falling to the Dragons 55-21 a year ago. Because of various cancelations, the Oakland Activities Association Red schedule has become unbalanced – but a Clarkston win would put it at 4-0 in the league, while a Lake Orion win would seem to give the Dragons a one-game edge on the other challengers with West Bloomfield still coming up Week 9.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Orchard Lake St. Mary's (1-2) at Detroit Catholic Central (3-0), Grosse Pointe South (2-1) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-1), Milan (2-1) at New Boston Huron (3-0). SATURDAY DeWitt (3-0) at Warren De La Salle Collegiate (1-2).

Mid-Michigan

Hopkins (3-0) at Belding (3-0)

The Ottawa-Kent Conference circles into Ionia County with Belding, and the Black Knights have an opportunity to bring a league title east with a win tonight clinching at least a share of the Silver championship. Hopkins has won the teams’ last two meetings, including last season’s 32-6. Defense could make this one much closer as the Vikings have given up 10 points over three games and Belding has allowed only 29.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Fowlerville (2-1) at Mason (3-0), Lake Odessa Lakewood (2-1) at Olivet (3-0), Northville (2-1) at Hartland (2-1). SATURDAY Breckenridge (2-1) at Carson City-Crystal (1-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Muskegon Catholic Central (3-0) at Manistee (3-0)

Tonight’s winner clinches a share of the Lakes 8 Athletic Conference championship. The Crusaders are seeking their first since 2017 and enter this title decider having outscored their first three opponents by a combined 110-18. MCC also defeated Manistee 49-0 a year ago, but the Chippewas have been on a roll in 2020 – they’ve already equaled their 2019 win total and got a nice nonleague boost downing Harbor Springs 47-20 a week ago.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Frankfort (1-2) at Harbor Springs (2-1), Traverse City West (2-1) at Gaylord (1-2), Cadillac (2-1) at Petoskey (1-2), Evart (1-2) at Lake City (1-2).

Southeast & Border

Marshall (1-2) at Parma Western (3-0)

This should be a much better matchup than records would indicate. Western is off to an excellent start, with most notably its opening-night win over Hastings looking better and better with every Saxons victory. But Marshall isn’t a down-and-out 1-2 team – the Redhawks lost to reigning Interstate 8 Athletic Conference champion Jackson Lumen Christi by just a point, then to 2019 runner-up Coldwater by eight before getting on the board with last week’s big win over Jackson Northwest. The Panthers have won the last two meetings, but last year in a close one 14-13.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Hillsdale (2-1) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-1), Britton Deerfield (1-2) at Erie Mason (3-0), Riverview Gabriel Richard (3-0) at Manchester (2-1), Springport (1-0) at Reading (2-1).

Southwest Corridor

Paw Paw (3-0) at Vicksburg (2-1)

The Red Wolves have opened by outscoring their first three opponents by a combined 136-7. But these next three weeks will provide a greater measuring stick after the team finished 10-2 last season and 8-3 the year before. First up is Vicksburg, which hasn’t given up a point since falling to reigning Wolverine Conference champion Edwardsburg in the season opener. Then comes Detroit Country Day before Paw Paw finishes the regular season against the Eddies in what could decide the league title – although Vicksburg can still have a say by coming up big tonight.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Joseph (3-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (2-1), Comstock (2-1) at Buchanan (3-0), Delton Kellogg (1-2) at Saugatuck (2-1), Coldwater (3-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek (1-2).

Upper Peninsula

Gladstone (2-0) at Kingsford (2-1)

The Braves have been one of the most intriguing stories of this abbreviated season, for reasons covered a few times on this site over the last two weeks. And Gladstone would seem like the league favorite as it begins Great Northern Conference play tonight – but up first is Kingsford, which owns a 21-game winning streak in the series. Kingsford fell to Marquette 10-0 last week, but could shake things up among the Upper Peninsula’s best by running that streak to 22 tonight.   

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Marquette (2-1) at Menominee (2-1), Benzie Central (2-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-1), Ishpeming Westwood (2-1) at L'Anse (1-2), Negaunee (2-1) at Bessemer Gogebic (0-2).

West Michigan

Byron Center (3-0) at Lowell (3-0)

This is the kind of game the Red Arrows surely have been looking forward to for a few seasons as they’ve built back up into league contenders. The O-K White title could eventually come down to this matchup, as new league member Byron Center – last year’s Green champ – is riding a 13-game regular-season winning streak and coming off a major success last week against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Lowell has proven itself with a win over East Grand Rapids – and another tonight would be a major step toward a possible first league title since 2016.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (3-0) at Cedar Springs (2-1), Newaygo (2-1) at Reed City (3-0), Muskegon (2-1) at Zeeland East (2-1), Jenison (2-1) at East Kentwood (1-2).

8-Player

Mayville (3-0) at Deckerville (3-0)

The Eagles have won 18 straight regular-season games and five straight league championships, but this matchup starts a challenging 2020 run. Mayville tonight, Genesee next week and Morrice in Week 9 all are still undefeated (Genesee plays Morrice this weekend). Mayville has been overshadowed a bit but quietly is coming off three straight playoff seasons and is averaging 62 points per game this fall as it looks to take the next step

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Morrice (3-0) at Genesee (3-0), Pellston (3-0) at Gaylord St. Mary (3-0), Munising (3-0) at Stephenson (3-0), New Buffalo (3-0) at Bridgman (2-1).

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.)