Drive for Detroit: Playoffs R2 in Review

November 9, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The second week of the MHSAA football playoffs again was filled with rematches of some of the regular-season’s most touted games.

And the mix of results – close wins, comebacks and victories by the avenged – surely will impact which teams appear in nine championship games later this month.

Below are results that stuck out most as 136 turned into 68.  

Division 1

Saline 27, Ann Arbor Pioneer 23

Pioneer made this rematch of Southeastern Conference Red rivals more like the game it was expected to be Week 6, when Saline (10-0) won 37-21. The Pioneers (7-4) led into the third quarter and early in the fourth, but the reigning Division 1 runner-up earned its second straight District title with a late score and defensive stand. Click for more from AnnArbor.com.

Also noted:

Romeo 34, Lapeer 14 – The Bulldogs (10-1) advanced to a Regional Final for the first time since 1992, with Lapeer receiving its first and only loss in the District Final for the second straight year.

Rockford 21, Hudsonville 13 – The Rams (8-3) downed Hudsonville (7-4) for the second time in three weeks; the first win gave Rockford a share of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship, and this win earned a first District title since 2012.

Grand Ledge 45, Brighton 21 – Grand Ledge (11-0) earned its first District title since 2005 against a Brighton team that at 9-2 won its most games since that same season.

Canton 34, Northville 27 – The Chiefs (9-2) rode a dominating ground game to a second straight District title and handed Northville (10-1) the only loss during a season in which it set a school record for wins.  

Division 2

Muskegon 21, Muskegon Mona Shores 10

The second matchup in four weeks between these rivals was just as entertaining. After falling 21-18 in the first meeting, Muskegon (9-2) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take the rematch and end the season for the reigning MHSAA runner-up. Mona Shores (10-1) followed up its best season ever with a second of double-digit victories. Muskegon is trying to get back to Ford Field for the fourth straight season. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

Walled Lake Western 34, Birmingham Groves 21 – Western (11-0) won this matchup of undefeated teams to get to 11 wins for the first time since 2011, while ending Groves’ winningest season at 10-1.

Livonia Franklin 63, Jackson 35 – After four straight sub-.500 seasons, Franklin (8-3) won its first District title since 2007 and clinched its best record since at least 2005; Jackson (8-3) won its most games since at least 1950 and after five straight finishes below .500.

Berkley 28, Southfield 20 – The first district title for Berkley (9-2) included tying the team record for wins and downing a Southfield team (7-4) that made the Division 2 Semifinals a season ago.

Midland Dow 41, Fenton 14 – The Chargers are 10-1 for the second straight season and headed to a Regional for the first time since 1997 after handing Fenton (9-2) its first loss since opening night.  

Division 3

St. Johns 42, DeWitt 28

Count this as a statewide stunner for the Redwings (8-3), even with their tradition of success as they won their eighth game for the third time in four seasons. St. Johns had dropped six straight to the rival Panthers, including 49-21 only four weeks ago, but jumped to a 28-7 first-quarter lead and rode a mix of rushing and passing to put up the most points DeWitt (9-2) had given up since 2012. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Mount Pleasant 16, Petoskey 13 – The Oilers (9-2) won their second District title in three seasons after Connor Fiolek drilled a 42-yard field goal with 24 seconds left to push ahead of Petoskey (8-3).

St. Joseph 40, Edwardsburg 28 – The Bears (10-1) continued to fade out memories of last year’s 4-5, adding a District title to a shared league crown in handing Edwardsburg (10-1) its lone loss.

Coldwater 35, Vicksburg 14 – Coldwater’s first playoff win ever two weeks ago now is now a successful pair as the Cardinals (11-0) ended a five-game winning streak by the Bulldogs (8-3).

Chelsea 29, Trenton 16 – These Bulldogs (10-1) won their second straight District title and went over nine wins for the first time since 2007 by ending the best run since 2005 for Trenton (9-2). 

Division 4

Hudsonville Unity Christian 23, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 21

Unity Christian isn’t just a soccer school anymore. The Crusaders improved to 8-3, those wins their most in their 13 seasons of football, and they earned the milestone victory against a program only five seasons removed from its most recent Ford Field trip. GRCC (9-2) improved three wins from a year ago, but was eliminated when Unity Christian’s Connor Hollemans converted a 26-yard field goal with six seconds to play. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Also noted:

Ada Forest Hills Eastern 21, Comstock Park 13 – The Hawks (10-1) added the first District title of their 12-year history by ending a sixth-straight playoff appearance by the Panthers (8-3).

Richmond 17, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 15 – The Blue Devils (10-1) won their second straight District title after holding off a comeback attempt that included two fourth-quarter scores by the Irish (8-3), who bounced back from 3-5 a year ago.

Milan 67, Detroit Denby 44 – Milan (9-2) has put up more points by far than even its double-digit win seasons of the last two decades, and needed them this time to hold off a Denby team (6-5) that scored its most in a game since 2013.

Remus Chippewa Hills 35, Big Rapids 12 – The Warriors (9-2) won their first District title by ending the best season for Big Rapids since 2012 after the Cardinals (7-4) won only one game a year ago. 

Division 5

Lansing Catholic 21, Portland 14

This too turned out more like what was expected the first time these teams matched up this season. Portland downed Lansing Catholic 28-6 in Week 4, but the Cougars followed their star quarterback Tony Poljan this time with just enough big plays to hand the Raiders (10-1) their first and only loss. He ran for two scores and connected on a key long pass to help Lansing Catholic (10-1) to within two more wins of returning to Ford Field after finishing runner-up a year ago. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Also noted:

Grand Rapids West Catholic 21, Reed City 14 – The Falcons (9-2) won their sixth straight District title with their eighth straight victory, ending the season for Reed City (10-1) for the third time in five years.

Buchanan 35, Berrien Springs 0 – These two played to a two-point win for Buchanan in Week 8, but the Bucks (11-0) must have found what they needed to shut down the Shamrocks (9-2).

River Rouge 42, Detroit University Prep 0 – River Rouge (10-1) has three District titles and three double-digit win totals in four seasons after ending this one for University Prep (7-4).

Ida 39, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 30 – The Bluestreaks’ best season ever continued with their first District title to move to 11-0, while Robichaud (8-3) finished with at least that many wins for the third time in four seasons. 

Division 6

Constantine 49, Watervliet 48

The 17th straight playoff berth for Constantine came at-large with a 5-4 regular-season record, but the Falcons have looked like anything but a team that just got into the postseason. First came a three-point win over previously-undefeated rival Schoolcraft. This week’s one-point win ended the season for another league champion in Watervliet (9-2), which beat Constantine by 21 in Week 6. Click for more from the Sturgis Journal.

Also noted:

Ithaca 42, Sanford Meridian 6 – Ithaca (11-0) still hasn’t let an opponent come within 28 points, including now Jack Pine Conference champion Sanford Meridian (10-1), which posted its best record ever this fall.

Jackson Lumen Christi 45, Manchester 28 – Three losses over the final five games of the regular season haven’t slowed down Lumen Christi (8-3) in the playoffs, as the Titans this week posted an impressive win over the Cascades Conference champion Dutchmen (9-2).

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 31, Montague 28 – The Mustangs (11-0) are looking like a contender again for the second straight year after handing rejuvenated Montague (10-1) its only loss.

Clinton 43, Madison Heights Madison 20 – Clinton has owned the road, moving to 11-0 with a sound defeat of host Madison (9-2) after beating the reigning champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the District opener. 

Division 7

Pewamo-Westphalia 38, Saugatuck 28

The Pirates’ fifth straight District championship might have been the toughest to earn against previously-undefeated Saugatuck (10-1). Pewamo-Westphalia (11-0) scored 16 points over the final six minutes to move on. Saugatuck finished with 10 wins for the second time in program history and first since finishing Division 8 runner-up in 2010. Click for more from the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.

Also noted:

McBain 20, Saginaw Nouvel 19 (OT) – The Ramblers (8-3) went for a two-point conversion down one in overtime and extended their best season since 2011 while ending Nouvel’s at 9-2.

Sandusky 7, Cass City 0 – A touchdown on fourth down with less than a minute to play gave Sandusky (11-0) its first District title and continued the Redskins’ best season while ending the best run for Cass City (8-3) since 2005.

Dansville 35, Homer 21 – The Aggies (10-1) have 10 wins and a District title for the first time after defeating Big 8 Conference champion Homer (8-3).

New Lothrop 37, Flint Beecher 7 – The Hornets (11-0) won this unofficial Genesee Area Conference crossover and with it a third straight District title, although Beecher (7-3) did score the first points New Lothrop had given up in four weeks. 

Division 8

Muskegon Catholic Central 48, Beal City 13

The rematch of the 2013 Division 8 Final again went the Crusaders' way, as MCC rushed for 402 yards and five touchdowns to break open a game still close at halftime. Muskegon Catholic Central has scored at least 48 points the last three games after scoring only six points in a Week 8 loss to Detroit Country Day – the two-time reigning champion put up more points than Beal City had given up in a game since 2011. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Also noted:

St. Ignace 16, Johannesburg-Lewiston 8 – Although they finished ahead of Johannesburg-Lewiston (9-2) in the Ski Valley Conference, the Saints (10-1) ended up on the road but came away with a fourth District title in five seasons.

Frankfort 28, Onekama 21 – Frankfort (9-2) earned its first District title since 2009 with a quick turnaround after falling to Onekama (9-2) by 13 points only two weeks ago.

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 26, Morenci 6 – After taking a pair of losses from Tri-County Conference rival Morenci (8-3) in 2014, Whiteford (9-2) returned the favors with its second this fall after also winning the Week 7 matchup.

Crystal Falls Forest Park 26, Bark River-Harris 22 – For the second straight week, Forest Park (7-3) avenged a regular-season loss, this time bouncing back from a one-point opening-night defeat to the Broncos (8-3).

8-Player

Battle Creek St. Philip 58, Lawrence 14

In an odd turn of schedule, St. Philip (11-0) has faced two opponents twice over the last four weeks – Portland St. Patrick in Week 8 and in the Pre-Regional, and then Lawrence in Week 9 and the Regional Final. The first St. Philip-Lawrence meeting came out a three-point St. Philip win, which made this result a little surprising from a score margin point of view. St. Philip had been eliminated the last two seasons by Lawrence (8-3), last year’s eventual champion. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Also noted:

Cedarville 22, Posen 20 (OT) – Two points one way went the other this time, as Cedarville (9-2) avenged a 28-26 Week 6 loss to Posen (10-1) to make a second straight Semifinal.

Powers North Central 64, Rapid River 8 – Believe it or not, North Central (11-0) tied its season low in points in ending a fifth-straight winning season for the Rockets (7-4).

Deckerville 40, Morrice 20 – Deckerville (10-1) also avenged a regular-season loss and its only loss this season, a Week 6 four-point defeat to Morrice (9-2). 

PHOTO: Muskegon Catholic Central (gold helmets) defeated Beal City in a playoff game for the second time in three seasons. (Click for 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.)