1st & Goal: Week 9 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 22, 2020

Over the next 72 hours, endings will be followed by new beginnings for just about every high school football team in Michigan. 

Today and Saturday, the great majority will kick off for the final time this shortened regular season. On Sunday, for the first time, nearly all will be able to begin preparing for the start of this fall's MHSAA Playoffs. 

Pairings in 11 and 8-player will be posted to the MHSAA Website during early afternoon Sunday. In the meantime, more than 270 games will be played to help determine those postseason matchups, with more than 60 available to watch on MHSAA.tv; click the link for listings

Below are some of the games you may want to check out in your corner of the state. Find the full schedule and then results this weekend as they’re reported via the MHSAA Score Center.

Bay & Thumb

Midland Dow (4-1) at Midland (5-0)

Dow’s loss last week to Mount Pleasant rubbed some of the luster off this week’s neighborly meet-up with the Chemics. But this could still significantly impact the Saginaw Valley League Blue championship, as Midland is the only team without a league loss – but a Dow win would leave three one-loss teams (along with the Oilers) at the top of the standings. Dow won this matchup 42-7 last season, breaking a three-game losing streak to its rival.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Ortonville Brandon (5-0) at Fenton (5-0), Saline (5-0) at Grand Blanc (4-1), Davison (5-0) at Lapeer (3-2), Clare (5-0) at Sanford Meridian (4-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit Loyola (5-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (5-0), Saturday

These teams both have won MHSAA Finals championship over the last 11 seasons, but this Detroit Catholic League Bishop Championship game will pit them against each other for the first time. This is likely a matter of significant difference in enrollment size – the Shamrocks are a Division 1 playoff team, and the Bulldogs will play in Division 7. But they are undefeated champions of the two divisions of largest schools in the league, DCC in the Central and Loyola in the AA, and their past successes no doubt will make this a much-anticipated matchup.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Livonia Churchill (4-1) at Belleville (5-0), Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (4-1) at Detroit Country Day (3-1), Marine City (5-0) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-1). SATURDAY Clarkston Everest Collegiate (5-0) vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard (5-0) at Detroit Catholic Central.

Mid-Michigan

Mason (5-0) at Williamston (5-0)

The Bulldogs are attempting to finish a second-straight perfect run through the Capital Area Activities Conference Red. But they’re up against a Williamston team off to its best start since 2014, which is saying something extra given the Hornets’ annual success. This will match strength on strength; Williamston has given up 45 points total (nine per game), while Mason is averaging nearly 38 per contest. The Bulldogs won last year’s meeting 20-9.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Stevensville Lakeshore (4-1) at DeWitt (5-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (5-0) at Lansing Catholic (3-2), Holt (2-2) at Grand Ledge (3-2), Stockbridge (2-3) at Olivet (4-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Charlevoix (5-0) at Maple City Glen Lake (4-1)

The Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders and Legacy championships are up for grabs this weekend, and we’ll focus on the Leaders as the only loss between these two contenders was Glen Lake’s by five to unbeaten Clarkston Everest Collegiate. Glen Lake has won 12 straight league games and three straight championships, and defeated the Red Rayders 42-18 last season when they also met with the title on the line. But a dominant Charlevoix defense could give Glen Lake trouble this time; the Rayders haven’t given up a point over their last two games and only 42 total this fall.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Johannesburg-Lewiston (5-0) at Harbor Springs (3-2), Oscoda (5-0) at Houghton Lake (4-1), East Jordan (3-2) at Frankfort (2-3). SATURDAY Jackson Lumen Christi (2-3) at Traverse City St. Francis (3-2).

Southeast & Border

Addison (5-0) at Grass Lake (4-1)

The Panthers quietly have put themselves in position to clinch a second-straight Cascades Conference championship, outscoring their three league opponents so far by a combined 169-28. Grass Lake trails Addison by a game, thanks to a Week 7 loss to Michigan Center, and also will be looking to avenge last season’s 20-16 defeat that decided the Cascades title.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Chelsea (5-0) at Monroe (4-1), Clinton (4-1) at Hillsdale (4-1), Homer (4-1) and Jonesville (4-1), Brownstown Woodhaven (4-1) at Temperance Bedford (3-2).

Southwest Corridor

Paw Paw (4-1) at Edwardsburg (5-0)

The Wolverine Conference isn’t awarding a championship this season because of the abbreviated schedule, but if it was the title would be coming down to these two again. Paw Paw’s only loss was last week to Detroit Country Day; otherwise the Wolves have again dominated, outscoring their four Wolverine opponents by an average of 48-9. The Eddies, who defeated Paw Paw to claim the league title last year, have yet to be held under 52 points or allow more than 16.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY St. Joseph (4-1) at Battle Creek Lakeview (4-1), Schoolcraft (4-1) at Delton Kellogg (3-2), Saugatuck (3-2) at Lawton (4-1), Portage Northern (4-1) a Kalamazoo Central (2-3).

Upper Peninsula

Marquette (4-1) at Calumet (2-2)

At the end of an unpredictable six weeks in the Upper Peninsula, this could be a much more intriguing game than the records might indicate. These teams recently have been among the best above the Bridge, but in substantially different playoff brackets – Marquette will play in Division 3 and Calumet in Division 6 next weekend. The Copper Kings have played only three games on the field, winning two and losing the third to Kingsford by just a point. Marquette defeated Kingsford 10-0 and also has just one close loss, early to Sault Ste. Marie.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Escanaba (0-2) at Gladstone (2-2), Bark River-Harris (2-2) at L'Anse (1-4), Iron Mountain (5-0) at Manistique (1-3), Gwinn (2-3) at Bessemer (0-4).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Catholic Central (5-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (5-0)

These two were frequent league or playoff foes until 2016, when GRCC moved for a few seasons into the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue. This fall the Cougars moved back into the Gold, and they’ll face the Sailors with the championship on the line. Most notably, both have wins over Cedar Springs, and defensively they’ve given up nearly the same number of points – although GRCC is scoring eight more per game, on average.

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Grandville (5-0) at Rockford (3-0), Hudsonville Unity Christian (5-0) at Allendale (3-2), Whitehall (4-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (4-1). SATURDAY Detroit Martin Luther King (3-2) at Muskegon Mona Shores (5-0).

8-Player

Portland St. Patrick (5-0) at Burr Oak (5-0)

Shortened schedule or not, Burr Oak has a lot to celebrate. The Bobcats have guaranteed a winning season, their second straight and something of a rarity for many year before that. Burr Oak has won all of its games by at least 32 points. But defeating annual power St. Patrick – and by doing so avenging last year's playoff loss – would be the best victory yet. 

Keep an eye on these: FRIDAY Morrice (5-0) at Deckerville (4-1), Mayville (5-0) at Kinde North Huron (5-0), Cedarville (4-1) at Rudyard (3-2). SATURDAY Indian River Inland Lakes (5-0) at Merrill (4-1).

PHOTO: Midland pulled away from Saginaw Heritage for a 42-20 win on Sept. 25. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.) 

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.)