1st & Goal: Week 8 Preview

October 15, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The midpoint of every other regular season is crunch time during this abbreviated fall of 2020.

Teams across Michigan will play their fifth games this weekend – but a week from Saturday, all of this year’s league championships and playoff profile boosting will be complete.

Every game has meant even more, and below are a number of games this weekend that could end up meaning the most. 

Find the schedule and then results this weekend as they’re reported via the MHSAA Score CenterThis week’s broadcast schedule includes 53 varsity football games on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings

Bay & Thumb

Hemlock (4-0) at Millington (4-0)

This will decide the Tri-Valley Conference West I championship, with Hemlock seeking its first league title since 2012 and Millington its first since 2014. To finish first, the Huskies will need to break a recent three-game losing streak against the Cardinals, who won last year’s matchup 15-6. Millington’s defense might be the key this time; it has given up just 34 points over its other three league matchups. 

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Marine City (4-0) at Marysville (4-0), North Branch (4-0) at Imlay City (3-1), Bad Axe (3-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (3-1), Fenton (4-0) at Swartz Creek (3-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Cass Tech (4-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (3-1) at Detroit Collegiate Prep, Saturday

They opened this season with their closest result since 2015, Cass Tech winning 34-26, and now meet again in the Detroit Public School League 1-2 championship game. Both cruised through their league schedules, both giving up only seven points over their other three games this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Detroit U-D Jesuit (2-1) at Detroit Catholic Central (4-0), Garden City (3-1) at Dearborn Heights Crestwood (4-0), Detroit Central (4-0) vs. Detroit Southeastern (4-0) at Detroit Collegiate Prep. SATURDAY Clarkston Everest Collegiate (4-0) at Royal Oak Shrine (4-0).

Mid-Michigan

McBain (4-0) at Beal City (4-0)

The Aggies were well on their way to a perfect run through the Highland Conference last season when third-place McBain stunned with a 27-0 win in the league finale – which sent Beal into a shared championship with Houghton Lake instead. McBain and Beal City are meeting in the league finale again, with the winner taking the championship outright.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Pewamo-Westphalia (4-0) at Fowler (4-0), Harrison (3-1) at Clare (4-0), Durand (4-0) at New Lothrop (4-0), Williamston (4-0) at Olivet (4-0).

Northern Lower Peninsula 

Sault Ste. Marie (3-1) at Kingsley (4-0)

The Blue Devils have launched an impressive chase of reigning champion Kingsley in their first season as part of the Northern Michigan Football Conference, as both are the only teams still unbeaten in Legends division play. Both have wins over Traverse City St. Francis, but Sault Ste. Marie’s victory over Marquette in Week 5 may turn out to have been even more important prep for the powerful Stags.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY East Jordan (3-1) at Johannesburg-Lewiston (4-0), Manistee (3-1) at Ludington (3-1), Cadillac (3-1) at Traverse City West (3-1). SATURDAY Ogemaw Heights (3-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (2-2).

Southeast & Border 

Erie Mason (4-0) at Sand Creek (4-0) 

The Eagles, first-year members of the Tri-County Conference, are in a league title conversation for the first time since winning the Lenawee County Athletic Association in 2003. They also can tie their winningest finish since 2003 with a victory this week or next, having won a combined eight games over the last seven seasons before this fall. Sand Creek is used to more success, but still is hoping to clinch its first league championship since 2011. Both have scored at least 46 points in every game this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Homer (4-0) at Reading (3-1), Monroe (3-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-1), Ida (2-2) at Blissfield (4-0), Michigan Center (1-1) at Manchester (2-2). 

Southwest Corridor 

Lawton (4-0) at Schoolcraft (3-1)

In 2019, Lawton won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley title, and Schoolcraft the SAC Lakeshore championship. This fall, Schoolcraft moved into the Valley, and Lawton this weekend no doubt is rolling up the welcome mat – recalling as well how the Eagles defeated the Blue Devils 47-10 in last season’s Division 7 District Final.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Constantine (3-1) at Kalamazoo United (4-0), Battle Creek Lakeview (4-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (3-1), Cassopolis (2-2) at Mendon (3-1), Watervliet (2-2) at Coloma (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba (0-1) at Marquette (3-1)

Arguably the Upper Peninsula’s most famed rivalry will add one of its more interesting chapters, as Marquette has clinched a share of the Great Northern Conference championship while Escanaba is finally getting an opportunity to play its first game this fall. This could go a few ways. The Eskymos could show some rust against their game-sharpened rivals. They also could unleash a month’s worth of wanting to get back on the field now that they’ve finally gotten the chance.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Gladstone (2-1) at Menominee (2-2), West Iron County (4-0) at Gwinn (2-2), Negaunee (3-1) at Houghton (1-1), Calumet (1-2) at Hancock (1-2).

West Michigan 

Whitehall (4-0) at Montague (4-0)

Tonight’s winner will clinch a share of the West Michigan Conference title, and Montague is a frequent part of the championship conversation. Whitehall is seeking its first WMC title since 1999, but has had a big role is making this one of the most competitive leagues in the state as well with five playoff appearances over the last six seasons. This matchup could be a test of defensive wills – the Vikings have allowed only three points this season, and Montague has given up a mere 12.  

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Zeeland West (4-0) at Muskegon (3-1), Allendale (3-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (3-1), Hamilton (2-2) at Hudsonville Unity Christian (4-0), Ada Forest Hills Eastern (3-1) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (4-0).

8-Player

Kinde-North Huron (4-0) at Peck (3-1)

This showdown will decide at least a share of the North Central Thumb League Stripes championship, with North Huron able to clinch outright what would be its second title in four seasons. The Warriors have won six straight times over Peck, including in last season’s playoff opener – although the team’s regular-season meeting was decided by just eight points.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Munising (4-0) at Cedarville (3-1), Deckerville (3-1) at Genesee (3-1), Pickford (4-0) at Rapid River (3-1). SATURDAY Merrill (4-0) at Portland St. Patrick (4-0).

PHOTO: Muskegon Catholic Central is another undefeated team this fall; here the defense surrounds Sparta’s quarterback during the Oct. 2 victory. (Photo by Tim Reilly.)

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.)