Drive for Detroit: Playoff Week 2 Preview

October 31, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The field of 288 a week ago became 144 teams still playing. Starting tonight, 11-player teams will compete for District titles and 8-player contenders will aim to celebrate Regional championships.

And this round presents more than a few familiar matchups from either earlier this fall or recent MHSAA Playoffs.

There again are ample opportunities to watch playoff games from the comforts of home if you do not choose to take a seat in the stands. FOX Sports Detroit’s Prep Zone matchups this week are Detroit Catholic Central at West Bloomfield in Division 1, Birmingham Brother Rice at Birmingham Groves in Division 2 and Flint Powers Catholic at Williamston in Division 4. Those all will stream free of charge on FOXSportsDetroit.com and on the FOX Sports app. At least five more games will be viewable on MHSAA.tv, either live with subscription or free after 72 hours.

Below are a few notes on games of particular intrigue in each division. Games are tonight unless noted. “Drive for Detroit” is powered by MI Student Aid

Division 1

Macomb Dakota (8-2) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (10-0)

The Big Reds beat Dakota 24-17 in Week 5 on the way to the Macomb Area Conference Red title and their first perfect regular season since 1975. After winning another MAC Red rematch last week over Utica Eisenhower, Chippewa Valley will look to remain the only conference team still alive – but must avoid a 2016 scenario, when it beat Dakota during the regular season and lost to the Cougars in the playoffs.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Oxford (8-2) at Lapeer (10-0). SATURDAY East Kentwood (9-1) at Saline (9-1), Dearborn Fordson (9-1) at Detroit Cass Tech (10-0).

Division 2

Warren DeLaSalle (8-2) at Oak Park (9-1)

Oak Park has won at least one playoff games six of the last seven seasons and seems to be inching closer to a trip to Ford Field – but for the second straight season, DeLaSalle stands in the way. The Pilots won last year’s playoff meeting, 14-7 in a Regional Final, on the way to claiming the Division 2 championship. The Knights have won four games by eight or fewer points this fall and should be prepared for another close one.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Midland Dow (6-4) at Midland (7-3), Jenison (7-3) at Muskegon Mona Shores (9-1), Birmingham Brother Rice (7-3) at Birmingham Groves (8-2).

Division 3

Zeeland West (8-2) at Zeeland East (9-1)

East won the teams’ first meeting, 48-34 in Week 8, on the way to clinching the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green title. But the Chix as well have a scenario they want to avoid: In 2012, 2013 and 2017, East won the first matchup but West won the playoff rematch. The Dux’ only losses this season were to league champions – East and Grand Rapids Christian.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Cedar Springs (9-1) at Mount Pleasant (10-0), Grand Rapids Christian (8-2) at Muskegon (10-0), Detroit Martin Luther King (8-2) at Warren Woods Tower (9-1).


Division 4

Farmington Hills Harrison (7-3) at Detroit Country Day (7-2)

Of course not to slight possible Regional and Semifinal opponents, but Country Day has accomplished the most of late of any team standing between Harrison and finishing its final season at Ford Field. The Yellowjackets have reached the Semifinals four times this decade and finished Division 4 runners-up in 2016 before falling below .500 last fall for the first time since 2005. Country Day opened these playoffs by downing MAC Bronze champ Center Line 42-6.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Paw Paw (8-2) at Edwardsburg (10-0). SATURDAY Escanaba (8-2) at Alma (9-1), North Branch (8-2) vs. St. Clair (8-2) at East China Stadium.

Division 5

Clare (9-1) at Reed City (10-0)

The intrigue here is based in part on Clare’s win last week – 42-28 over Manistee, which like Reed City was perfect during the regular season. The Pioneers’ lone loss came Week 4 to Jack Pine Conference foe Roscommon, and the two ended up sharing the title with Beaverton – all three are still alive in the playoffs. Reed City, meanwhile, has won 42 of its last 46 games, including 34-7 over Clare in last season’s District Final.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Lansing Catholic (9-1) at Portland (10-0), Muskegon Oakridge (9-1) vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian (8-2) at Jenison, Hopkins (9-1) vs. Kalamazoo United (10-0) at Vicksburg.

Division 6

Calumet (10-0) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (10-0) at Thirlby Field, Saturday

This is another playoff rematch from 2017, when St. Francis opened the postseason with a 28-6 win over the Copper Kings. That Calumet team entered 6-3, while this one makes the trip downstate coming off its first perfect regular season since 1996 and with a school-record 10 wins. The Copper Kings will need another big performance from a defense giving up only 5.3 points per game; St. Francis is scoring nearly 49 on average.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Michigan Center (9-1) at Jackson Lumen Christi (9-0), Blissfield (6-4) at Brooklyn Columbia Central (9-1). SATURDAY Ecorse (8-2) at Flint Hamady (10-0).

Division 7

Saugatuck (9-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (10-0)

This is not only a playoff rematch, but a replay of last season’s Division 7 championship game. These two actually are meeting in the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons – P-W has won all four meetings including last season’s Final 21-0, but the Indians gave the Pirates two of their toughest games of the last four seasons in falling by six in 2016 and 10 in 2015. Get the scoreboard ready: Saugatuck’s offense has blown through 500 points for the third time in four seasons, while the Pirates with 537 points already have outscored last year’s championship team.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Detroit Loyola (7-3) at Madison Heights Madison (10-0), Centreville (9-1) at Cassopolis (10-0), Cass City (8-2) at New Lothrop (9-1).

Division 8

Ottawa Lake Whiteford (10-0) at Reading (10-0)

These two have thoroughly dominated their competition to this point. It’s tough predicting what’s going to give now that they’ll share the same field. Reigning Division 8 champion Whiteford has won 24 straight games and 37 of its last 38, this season outscoring opponents 54-8 on average. Reading is outscoring its opponents only 52-9 per game – although Pittsford may have given the Bobcats some ideas putting up 48 to Reading’s 65 in last week’s opener.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Iron River West Iron County (8-2) at Ishpeming (10-0), Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-1) at Breckenridge (10-0), Ubly (8-2) at Harbor Beach (9-1).

8-Player Division 1

Morrice (10-0) vs. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (10-0) at Grandville Middle School, Saturday

The Orioles blazed a trail with their first 9-0 regular season and now will play to reach their first Semifinal since 1996. Just as impressive, if not more so – Morrice hasn’t given up a point since Week 4, a stretch of outscoring their last six opponents by a combined 313-0. The Defenders are playing to reach the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons. Counting last week’s win over Webberville, they’ve beaten five playoff teams and reigning champion Central Lake this fall.

Other Regional Finals: FRIDAY Suttons Bay (9-1) at Pickford (10-0). SATURDAY Deckerville (8-2) at AuGres-Sims (10-0), Bellevue (9-1) at Colon (9-1).

8-Player Division 2

Brethren (7-3) at Onekama (8-2)

The West Michigan D League champion Bobcats keep earning respect, adding to the league title last week’s win over intriguing contender Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 42-26. Brethren has its most wins in a season since 1990, and now takes on another team with championship aspirations. Onekama’s two losses came by a combined seven points to Midwest Central Michigan Conference West foes still alive in 8-player Division 1. The Portagers are 17-4 since moving to 8-player last season after three straight making the 11-player playoffs.

Other Regional Finals: FRIDAY Crystal Falls Forest Park (6-4) at Rapid River (7-3), Cedarville (6-4) at Posen (8-2). SATURDAY Tekonsha (6-4) vs. Portland St. Patrick (6-4) at Portland High.

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.  

PHOTO: Clarkston’s punter winds up to send the ball back to Lake Orion during last week’s Division 1 District win. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.)