Drive for Detroit: Semifinals in Review

November 25, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

We finally have answers to some of the questions that have been asked all season. 

Four 2012 MHSAA champions earned the opportunity Saturday to play for titles again this weekend. Five teams that finished runners-up at Ford Field last season will get another chance to finish the job. 

We'll have two Finals rematches, in Divisions 2 and 7. And Clarkston and Clinton will play in the season's final games for the first time. 

Read on for a few details from all 16 Semifinals, plus coverage of each from our statewide media. 

Division 1

Clarkston 61, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 26

Clarkston (12-1) has earned its first MHSAA championship game berth in its fourth Semifinal try, thanks in part to 355 yards and six touchdowns rushing from senior running back Ian Eriksen. Flint Carman-Ainsworth finished its best season ever in its first Semifinal and with a final record of 11-2. Click to read more from MLive Detroit.

Detroit Catholic Central 28, Detroit Cass Tech 0

The rematch of the last two Division 1 Finals went the opposite way this time as DCC (11-2) cruised against the two-time reigning champion Technicians. The loss ended an 18-game winning streak for Cass Tech (12-1), which hadn’t been shut out since 2009. Click to read more from the Oakland Press.

Division 2

Muskegon 41, Portage Central 35

Big Reds quarterback Deshaun Thrower was the hero again, scoring with just under a minute remaining to put his team back in the Division 2 Final after Muskegon (12-1) finished runner-up a year ago. Portage Central (12-1) capped its best season since making the Semifinals in 1977 with its best record ever. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Birmingham Brother Rice 43, Detroit Martin Luther King 20

Brother Rice has set a school record for points with 450 this season. But its defense was equally key in getting the Warriors (13-0) back to Ford Field as it seeks to win a third straight MHSAA title. King (10-2) had averaged 33 points per game this season and scored fewer than 20 only three times. Click to read more from the Detroit News.

Division 3

Zeeland West 42, Stevensville Lakeshore 7

The Dux’ offense continued to rumble in carrying West back to Ford Field for the second time in three seasons – the Dux will be attempting to add to their Division 4 title won in 2011. But the defense has to be applauded as well after holding Lakeshore (9-4) to its season low points; in fact, it was only the second time West (12-1) held an opponent to fewer than 13 this fall. Click to read more from the Holland Sentinel.

DeWitt 21, St. Clair 20

The Panthers (13-0) are headed back to the MHSAA Finals for the first time since 2004 after ending St. Clair’s longest run in program history. St. Clair (11-2) drove to DeWitt’s 5-yard line during the final minutes but could get no closer to a go-ahead score. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Division 4

Grand Rapids South Christian 20, Comstock Park 6

The reigning champion Sailors (12-1) booked a return trip to Detroit by dispatching of Comstock Park (12-1) in a Semifinal for the second straight season. South Christian scored twice in the fourth quarter to earn the final advantage. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Marine City 12, Lansing Sexton 7

Marine City (12-1) is headed to the Finals for the third time in seven years after ending Sexton’s best season. Defense reigned as both held the other to their respective season low points totals. The Big Reds finished 12-1. Click to read more from the Port Huron Times Herald.

Division 5

Menominee 59, Muskegon Oakridge 28

The Maroons (13-0) are one win from their fourth MHSAA title and first since the retirement of legendary coach Ken Hofer two seasons ago. Menominee gave up its most points this season to Oakridge (11-2), but jumped to a 49-0 halftime lead and never looked too far back. Click to read more from the Eagle Herald Extra.

Grand Rapids West Catholic 35, Livonia Clarenceville 0

It’s been brought up plenty over the last month, but West Catholic’s season has come nearly full circle – the Falcons (9-4) are back in the Division 5 Final for the second straight season after losing to Portland by three in last year’s championship game and then barely squeaking into the playoffs this fall. Clarenceville (12-1) did complete its best season since 2001. Click to read more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Division 6

Ithaca 21, Montrose 20

Never during Ithaca’s 55-game winning streak has an opponent come so close to ending it – in fact, the Rams (12-1) were the first to come within 10 points of the Yellowjackets since the 2011 Regional Final. Ithaca (13-0) also stopped a last-minute drive into its territory to earn a chance to play for a fourth straight MHSAA title. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.

Clinton 49, Shelby 3

Clinton will play for an MHSAA championship for the first time after winning in its first Semifinal appearance since 1990. The Redskins (13-0) scored 35 points during the first half to set the tone and keep the best season in program history going one more week. Shelby (11-2) also was seeking its first championship game berth. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

Division 7

Ishpeming 44, Harbor Beach 10

Ishpeming (13-0) earned the opportunity to repeat as Division 7 champion by eliminating the reigning winner in Division 8. The Hematites' defense continued to shine – it’s now given up a combined 23 points in four playoff games this fall – while Harbor Beach (11-2) scored its fewest points since the 2011 Regional Final. Click to read more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Detroit Loyola 52, Homer 7

Loyola (13-0) earned a Finals rematch against Ishpeming with another incredible offensive performance – the Bulldogs have outscored their playoff opponents by a combined 205-14. The Semifinal appearance was a first for Homer (11-1). Click to read more from MLive Detroit.

Division 8

Beal City 34, Crystal Falls Forest Park 18

Forest Park (12-1) did hold Beal City to a season low in points and scored the second most of any opponent. That’s how good the Aggies (13-0) have been this fall, and they’ll get a chance to finish the run after falling to Harbor Beach in last year’s Division 8 Final. Click to read more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Muskegon Catholic Central 45, New Lothrop 14

The Crusaders (11-2) are headed to the Finals for the first time since 2008 and in search of their ninth MHSAA championship. New Lothrop (12-1) was the second straight previously-undefeated team to have its season ended by Muskegon Catholic Central. Click to read more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

PHOTO: DeWitt defenders swarm a St. Clair ball carrier during the Panthers’ 21-20 Division 3 Semifinal win Saturday at Goodrich High School. (Photo courtesy of Matt Stehouwer.)

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for

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 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.)