4-Year QB Leads with What He's Learned

October 2, 2020

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half 

BLISSFIELD – Gavin Ganun is like a seasoned veteran. 

“I’m really confident now with everything I’m doing,” said the Blissfield quarterback. “I’ve seen a lot of things happen. There’s nothing that surprises me.” 

Clinton’s football team might have something to say about that tonight when it travels to Blissfield for a colossal Lenawee County Athletic Association clash.

But there’s no denying that Ganun has seen just about everything by now. He’s making his 37th career start at quarterback for Blissfield and is having a sensational season. 

“To me the game feels really slow now,” Ganun said while preparing to face the 2-0 Clinton squad this week. “I have plenty of time to see everything. I can calm myself down in the pocket. Even if there is pressure, I don’t feel it like I used to. I’m not worried about getting hit. I just stand back there, make the reads and find the open receiver.” 

This year Ganun has had plenty of open receivers. He has great targets in wide receivers Zack Horky (6-foot-4) and Ty Wyman (6-6) and tight end Nick Ostas (6-2).  

“One of them gets open every play,” Ganun said.  

Over the first two weeks of the season, Ganun threw for a combined 611 yards and 10 touchdowns – five scores to Horky and three to Wyman – as Blissfield piled up wins over Dundee and reigning LCAA champion Hillsdale.

Ganun has looked great behind a Royals offensive line that has five new starters – tackles Blaine Pifer and Scott Jackson, guards Luke Nofzinger and Ricky Eisenmann and center Henry Smith.  

“It all starts with the line,” Ganun said. “They have come so far. They worked really hard to get better. Their pass blocking has been amazing.” 

Ganun has been the starting Blissfield quarterback since game one of his freshman year. He has led Blissfield into the playoffs three straight seasons. For his career, he enters tonight’s game against Clinton with 4,953 passing yards and 56 passing touchdowns. 

Ganun was coached his first two seasons by Ryan Love, who is now coaching at Morenci. Ron Estes returned to the Royals’ sideline last year and inherited Ganun as his QB. He couldn’t be happier with his signal-caller. 

“There’s no panic in him,” Estes said. “He knows the offense inside and out. He knows what to do when things break down. He knows what to do and when to do it.” 

Ganun said Estes gives him a lot of freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage if he sees something when looking over the defense. 

“When I was a freshman, we weren’t doing that,” he said. “But, now, I’m fine to do that anytime. If the defense is running what we think they will run, I don’t have to, but if they change things up, I can change things up.” 

Ganun’s audibles have resulted in a couple big plays this season. Horky has caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter of both games. 

“We have a good connection,” he said. “We’ve played together so long that we know what each other is going to do before we do it. We’ll just look at each other or say something really quick when we leave the huddle.” 

Clinton, which returned to the LCAA this season after just over a decade as a member of the Tri-County Conference, will be a stiff test for Blissfield. Clinton has been rolling during the first two weeks of the season, piling up more than 900 yards of offense – all on the ground. 

Clinton coach Jeremy Fielder has watched a lot of film of Ganun lately and is impressed. 

“He’s always been pretty good,” Fielder said. “You see it all with him. He’s an outstanding quarterback.” 

Ganun plays three sports for the Royals and has been on varsity for all his entire career. He committed to play college baseball at Bowling Green State University, which announced in the spring that it was dropping baseball before re-examining that decision a month or so later. He’s happy he gets to play for the Falcons. 

“I’m super excited,” he said. “I love that place. Everything about it is amazing.” 

The Royals are trying to win their first LCAA championship since 2007, the same year Estes guided them to the Division 6 championship game before he stepped away – then returned – as head coach. Ganun knows Clinton stands in the way of that goal. 

“It’s going to be very tough,” he said. “They are very physical. Both teams know what the other team wants to do.” 

He also knows the Royals are playing at a high level right now. 

“We have a great team bond,” he said. “We have been clicking on all cylinders.” 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Blissfield quarterback Gavin Ganun prepares to take on an Ottawa Lake Whiteford defender during the 2019 season. (Middle) Ganun winds up to pass, also last season. (Below) Ron Estes returned as Blissfield coach in 2019. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)

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.)