Drive for Detroit: Week 1 Preview

August 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The lights are ready to shine again at high school football stadiums all over Michigan.

We kick off the 2018 season this weekend with anticipation – not to mention multiple matchups of reigning MHSAA Finals champions and a third game between teams that closed last fall at Ford Field.

Below is the first of 14 “Drive for Detroit” weekly previews aimed at providing a glance at the most intriguing games in every corner of the state through November’s 11-Player Finals at Ford Field. No matter where you’re located in Michigan, we’ll provide at least a handful of local games sure to be worth a trip.  

Varsity games this week and next will be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Check out the MHSAA Score Center for the full schedule and results as games are completed.

Be sure to check out as well the list of 15 games this weekend being broadcast on MHSAA.tv, including all three from the Vehicle City Gridiron Classic at Flint’s Atwood Stadium, four games from the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University, two games from the Battle at the Big House at University of Michigan and two games from the GRidiron Classic at Grand Valley State University.

“Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid. Please click the adjacent linked logo and read below for more information on how MI Student Aid is providing Michigan’s high school students with money to help pay for college.

Bay & Thumb

Linden (9-3) at Flushing (9-3), Thursday

All but one team in the nine-team Flint Metro League opens with a league game, and Linden’s 27-22 win over Flushing on opening night 2017 meant the eventual difference between second and third place behind champion Fenton. With all three anticipating being in the hunt again, tonight’s rematch could have similar significance. The Eagles have won the last three games in this series.

Other that caught my eye: THURSDAY Grand Blanc (7-3) at Midland Dow (7-3), Hudson (9-2) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker (10-2) FRIDAY Muskegon Catholic Central (8-2) at Algonac (10-2), Ubly (7-3) at Unionville-Sebewaing (5-5).

Greater Detroit

River Rouge (10-3) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (9-3), Saturday at Wayne State University

This 3 p.m. Saturday kickoff is the premier game of this season’s Prep Kickoff Classic, with both coming off MHSAA Semifinal runs – Cass Tech in Division 1 and River Rouge in Division 4. Both are expected to again contend for spots playing during the final weekend of this season at Ford Field – with a number of their players going on to play Saturdays at the college level as well.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Oak Park (9-3) vs. Utica Eisenhower (11-1) at Wayne State, West Bloomfield (11-3) at Birmingham Groves (7-3) FRIDAY Detroit Mumford (7-4) at Detroit Country Day (4-5), Macomb Dakota (7-4) at Orchard Lake St. Mary's (2-6).

Mid-Michigan

Pewamo-Westphalia (13-1) vs. Ithaca (13-1), Friday at Alma College

Both played at Ford Field to close the 2017 season, Pewamo-Westphalia as the Division 7 champion and Ithaca as Division 6 runner-up. Many of the standouts who led the Pirates to back-to-back MHSAA titles are gone as the next group looks to build on a 40-2 run over the last three seasons. The Yellowjackets also are debuting some important new faces – and guarding a 73-game regular-season winning streak. 

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Portland (10-2) at Ovid-Elsie (7-3), Beaverton (8-2) at Breckenridge (10-2), Belleville (10-1) at Brighton (4-5), Grand Rapids Christian (7-3) at DeWitt (10-2).

Northern Lower Peninsula

New Lothrop (10-1) at Maple City Glen Lake (7-3), Thursday

A pair of league champions match up with some historical significance on the line. New Lothrop has only one league loss over the last eight seasons. The Lakers haven’t lost a season opener since 2003. The Hornets’ new league schedule also is bookended with another tough test this fall – Traverse City St. Francis in Week 9.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Midland (8-2) at Traverse City West (9-2), Oscoda (6-4) at Houghton Lake (7-4) FRIDAY Newberry (6-3) at Frankfort (8-3), Johannesburg-Lewiston (6-4) at Manton (4-5).

Southeast & Border

Grand Rapids West Catholic (12-2) at Jackson Lumen Christi (12-1), Friday

As West Catholic has won the last five Division 5 championships, and Lumen Christi has won the last two in Division 6, this will be the second straight season they’ll open meeting as reigning title winners. Last season’s chapter went Lumen Christi’s way, 27-24, and the Titans have won two of three in their recent series.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (10-2) at Saline (7-2), FRIDAY Clarkston (12-2) vs. Grandville (6-4) at University of Michigan, Homer (6-4) at Michigan Center (9-2), Morenci (6-4) at Pittsford (9-2).

Southwest Corridor

Battle Creek Harper Creek (12-1) at Benton Harbor (5-5), Friday

Harper Creek’s only defeat of 2017 came in a Division 3 Semifinal against Muskegon, the division’s eventual champion. The Beavers start over again with an intriguing matchup. Benton Harbor has a new coach and is hoping to keep the same momentum that led to the Tigers’ first three playoff appearances ever over the last three seasons.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Three Rivers (8-3) at Plainwell (8-3), Berrien Springs (6-4) at Kalamazoo United (8-3), Williamston (7-5) at Battle Creek Pennfield (4-5) FRIDAY Freeland (6-4) at Marshall (4-5).

Upper Peninsula

Norway (9-2) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-5), Saturday

The expanded Western Peninsula Athletic Conference gets going right away, with these former Mid-Eastern Conference rivals the most notable opener. Lake Linden-Hubbell suffered its first regular-season loss in three years last season but still made the playoffs at 4-4. Norway is coming off its second straight nine-win season and shared the final M-EC title.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Traverse City St. Francis (11-2) at Marquette (4-5), Hancock (7-3) at L'Anse (4-5), Munising (4-5) at Iron River West Iron County (11-2) SATURDAY Menominee (8-4) at Marinette, Wis. (3-6).

West Michigan

Warren DeLaSalle (12-2) at Muskegon (14-0), Friday

From an area always loaded with top opening-weekend matchups, it’s hard to argue with the reigning Division 3 champion hosting the reigning Division 2 winner. Both are replacing graduated star quarterbacks, but also return talented casts – the Pilots should be strong defensively, while Muskegon remains huge up front and likely to pile up rush yards again this fall.

Others that caught my eye: THURSDAY Stevensville Lakeshore (9-2) at Holland West Ottawa (10-2) FRIDAY Newaygo (7-3) at Kent City (10-1), Montague (11-1) at Reed City (11-2) SATURDAY Zeeland East (9-1) vs. East Grand Rapids (9-1) at Grand Valley State

8-Player

Stephenson (9-3) at Cedarville (8-3), Friday

Did you know: Cedarville has 13 straight winning seasons and 14 straight playoff appearances (finishing 5-5 in 2004). The Trojans will begin their march to extend those streaks against a Stephenson team coming off its winningest season since 2003 and having ended Cedarville’s 2017 in a Division 1 Regional Final.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Deckerville (11-2) at Flint International Academy (8-3), *Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (6-4) at Hillman (6-5), Pickford (11-1) at Mesick (5-5), Marion (7-3) at Onekama (9-2) (*both played 11-player last season).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews 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: Grand Ledge’s sideline takes in a Friday night view during last season's game against rival DeWitt. (Click to see 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.)