By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Upsets seemed to fall with the raindrops that unexpectedly cropped up in spurts during the first weekend of the 2013 MHSAA football playoffs.
From Romeo to Dowagiac, Britton-Deerfield to Wayland with Parchment and Bath in between, teams celebrated wins that probably weren't expected by most when the brackets were revealed during the Sunday Selection Show.
A telling stat: While teams with higher playoff points averages host during the first three rounds, nearly 23 percent (31 of 136) of road teams won last weekend.
Here’s a look at the results from each division that stuck out most from the 11-player District openers and 8-player Regional Semifinals:
Detroit Catholic Central 35, Northville 14
Detroit Catholic Central (8-2) opened the playoffs against Northville (8-2) for the second time in three seasons and with hopes of again starting off smoothly on a third straight trip to the MHSAA Finals. This opener certainly was closer than the 2011 56-6 DCC win, but the result was the same as the Shamrocks ended an outstanding run by the Kensington Lakes Activities Association overall champion. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.
Macomb Dakota 19, Warren DeLaSalle 14: DeLaSalle (6-4) gave Dakota (10-0) its closest game this season and was the first to come within single digits of the Cougars since opening night.
Walled Lake Western 44, Canton 41: Western (9-1) advanced to the District Final for the third straight season but only after holding off a late comeback by Canton (8-2).
Romeo 24, Lake Orion 21: Likely considered an upset because of Lake Orion’s playoff history, there is some back story. In three playoff games during 2005-08, Lake Orion (7-3) beat Romeo all three times by a combined six points – but this time the Bulldogs (6-4) captured a close one.
Brighton 14, Grand Blanc 7: Grand Blanc (7-3) won the KLAA West thanks to a 44-21 win over Brighton in Week 4, but the Bulldogs remain alive after entering the postseason 5-4.
Birmingham Seaholm 17, Southfield 16
Seaholm (9-1), the Oakland Activities Association Blue champion, scored twice during the final seven minutes to eliminate OAA White winner Southfield (7-3). The Maples will play in their first District Final since 2001, the last time the team also won nine or more games. Click to read more from The Oakland Press.
Wyandotte Roosevelt 45, Ypsilanti Lincoln 40: Downriver League champion Roosevelt (10-0) outlasted another league title winner, Southeastern Conference White winner Lincoln (7-3).
Midland Dow 30, Fenton 21: The Chargers (8-2) returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and opened by beating Flint Metro League co-champ Fenton (8-2).
Pinckney 14, South Lyon 10: In its first playoff appearance since 2001, Pinckney (7-3) won its first playoff game ever and finished a season sweep of South Lyon (6-4), also its opening-night opponent.
Detroit U-D Jesuit 37, Warren Woods Tower 14: Jesuit’s first winning season since 2002 will continue; the Cubs (6-4) ended quickly the first playoff appearance for Warren Woods Tower (6-4) since 2007.
Grand Rapids Christian 14, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 13
The reigning Division 3 champion got a scare from Forest Hills Northern (7-3), which led 13-0 in the third quarter of its first playoff game since 2002. The Eagles (8-2) made an impressive comeback to move on to their fourth straight District Final. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Zeeland West 44, Zeeland East 13: The Dux (9-1) received their lone loss from East (5-5) in Week 2, but this one wasn't as close as that six-point defeat.
Byron Center 28, Battle Creek Harper Creek 3: Harper Creek (7-3) made the Semifinals the last two seasons, but were stopped quickly this time by the Bulldogs (7-3).
Wayland 38, Plainwell 28: A year after finishing 0-9 (after three straight ending 1-8), Wayland is 6-4 and knocked out a solid contender in Plainwell (8-2).
Eaton Rapids 49, Charlotte 21: Although Eaton Rapids (6-4) beat Charlotte in Week 3, it was expected by at least a few that the Greyhounds’ first playoff appearance would be a short one since Charlotte (7-3) had won five straight.
Dowagiac 21, Edwardsburg 17
Dowagiac has been exceptional over the last three seasons – the Chieftains (7-3) are playing to reach 10 wins for the third straight. But it was hard to see this one coming with Edwardsburg (9-1) undefeated and having beaten Dowagiac 36-0 only two weeks ago to decide the Wolverine B West championship. Click for to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Belding 21, Spring Lake 20: This spoke to the strength of the O-K Blue, as third-place Belding (7-3) beat Lakes 8 Conference champion Spring Lake (8-2).
Allendale 24, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 21 (OT): Also from the O-K Blue, league runner-up Allendale (8-1) survived a scare from frequent playoff power GRCC (6-4).
Battle Creek Pennfield 21, Paw Paw 17: The Kalamazoo Valley Association was pretty strong too, with Pennfield (9-1) one of three co-champs and the winner in this one over Wolverine B East champ Paw Paw (8-2).
Saginaw Swan Valley 14, Yale 13: Swan Valley’s hope of returning to the Semifinals – and going to Ford Field – nearly ended until the Vikings (10-0) scored the go-ahead points with two minutes to play to escape Yale (6-4).
Parchment 40, Jackson Lumen Christi 35
In a weekend full of upsets, this was the one that rang the statewide bell loudest. Parchment has had a nice run in a tough KVA and is 7-3 overall after finishing 3-6 only a year ago. But Lumen Christi had the highest playoff point average in Division 5 by a substantial chunk and was considered a definite contender as it pursued its first MHSAA championship since 1999. Click to read more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Reed City 49, Clare 7: The Central State Activities Association champion Coyotes (10-0) continued their dominating play in eliminating Jack Pine Conference champ Clare (7-3).
Millington 28, Almont 21: The Cardinals’ two regular season losses were their most since 2006, but Millington (8-2) is looking strong again after opening with a win over Blue Water Area Conference runner-up Almont (8-2).
Grand Rapids West Catholic 27, Portland 14: This rematch of last season’s Division 5 Final ended the opposite way, with West Catholic (6-4) continuing a five-game winning streak while Portland (7-2) closed with two straight defeats.
Detroit University Prep 42, Clinton Township Clintondale 34: University Prep (8-2) equaled its 2012 record in only its eighth season as a program and handed a first loss to Macomb Area Conference Bronze champion Clintondale (9-1) in one of its best wins during that brief history.
Grandville Calvin Christian 14, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 12
These two and Hopkins played to a three-way tie for the O-K White championship during the regular season, which resulted in part because of NorthPointe’s 13-8 win over Calvin Christian (7-3) in Week 3. This time the Squires came out on top in a matchup of teams both looking for their first playoff wins. NorthPointe finished 8-2. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Montrose 42, Reese 13: The Rams (10-0) won their 10th game for the third straight season and made it two this fall over solid Reese (8-2).
Shelby 35, Montague 23: Montague (6-4) played West Michigan Conference champion Shelby (9-1) closer than in Week 4, but the Tigers (9-1) bounced back from its lone loss, in Week 9, against Division 4 Spring Lake.
Schoolcraft 28, Niles Brandywine 21: Co-KVA champ Schoolcraft (9-1) hasn't lost in two months, although Brandywine (8-2) gave the Eagles one of their closest games in a while.
Constantine 41, Michigan Center 26: This win over Michigan Center (8-2) gave Constantine (6-4) at least one postseason victory in each of the last 12 seasons.
Britton-Deerfield 42, Hudson 28
Britton-Deerfield has made the playoffs all three seasons since its creation from the merging of the Britton-Macon and Deerfield districts. In fact, the Patriots reached the Regional Final in just their second season last fall. But Lenawee County Activities Association co-champion Hudson has reached the MHSAA Semifinals three of the last five seasons and had to be considered a possibility to get back again this month. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Iron River West Iron County 21, Traverse City St. Francis 7: Given St. Francis’ history of postseason success, this seemed ripe for an upset – but West Iron (10-0) broke away from the Gladiators (5-5) in the second half.
Pewamo-Westphalia 57, Saugatuck 21: The Central Michigan Athletic Conference champion Pirates (9-1) bounced back from their lone loss the week before to finish the season for Southwestern Athletic Conference North winner Saugatuck (8-2).
Bath 27, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port 14: This is not only Bath’s first playoff run since 2000, but first winning season since that fall – and the Bees (6-4) continued with a stunner against Greater Thumb Conference West runner-up Laker (7-3).
Madison Heights Bishop Foley 42, Royal Oak Shrine 10: A Week 3 loss to Shrine (6-4) got Bishop Foley off to a rough start in the Catholic League Intersectional, but the Ventures (7-3) scored their second-most points of the season in this rematch.
Detroit Allen 54, Adrian Lenawee Christian 32
Detroit Allen (7-2) built on its first playoff berth with its first playoff win, ending a similarly historic season for Lenawee Christian – the Cougars set a team record for wins in finishing 7-3. Both programs have been in existence for only six seasons, and this fall Allen finished second to much larger River Rouge in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Waterford Our Lady, 34, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 7: These two previously were one as a co-op team before splitting this season; Our Lady (8-2) will move on while Everest (7-3) finished an impressive first season on its own.
Powers North Central 35, Munising 21: Although Munising (6-4) made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, neither of these teams has much recent postseason history – but Powers (8-2) made its own with this first playoff win.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 30, Bessemer 16: The Trojans (10-0) beat the Miners (6-4) for the second time in three weeks and have 10 wins again for the first time since 2010.
L’Anse 52, Lake Linden-Hubbell 34: The Purple Hornets (8-2) bounced back from a Week 9 loss with their most points of the season to outlast one of the best offensive performances as well by Lake Linden-Hubbell (5-5).
Engadine 28, Cedarville 26
Perhaps a little under the radar, Engadine has been arguably the hottest team in 8-player football with five straight wins after beginning this season 1-4. The Eagles’ third loss this fall was 42-16 to Cedarville (8-2) – but in six weeks, Engadine (6-4) found a way to reverse the tide just enough. Click for more from WWTV 9&10.
Peck 32, Deckerville 14: The 8-player champion could come from the Thumb area for the third straight season; in 2012 it was Deckerville (5-5), and Peck (10-0) is looking like a favorite this time.
Carsonville-Port Sanilac 54, Portland St. Patrick 18: The Tigers (7-3) made it two straight wins and two straight over the Shamrocks (7-3) after also beating St. Patrick 45-12 in Week 9.
PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central running back Connor Holton (22) prepares to sprint through a hole in the line while Northville linebacker Jack Ernst works to stop him. (See more at Terry McNamara Photography.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“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.
Guillean 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.”
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.
Gribler 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 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 email@example.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.)