By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Why does high school football remain a community staple? Perhaps the most telling reasons are the pride or disappointment that can result from playing the neighboring school a few miles down the road. Whether that game is played early in the schedule or at the end of October – it's going to be brought up again and again during the year to come.
Week 2 featured plenty of games that will be recalled after the snow begins to fall.
For most, league play ramps up this week. But these are the best of the momentum-builders and rivalry clashes that were played all over the state over this Labor Day weekend.
Zeeland East 60, Zeeland West 52 (2 OT)
This is one of the top rivalry games in Michigan, no question. And this was another classic, with East scoring in double overtime and then its defense holding on to avenge last season’s 26-21 loss to the Dux. The Chix have scored a combined 124 points during their 2-0 start. It’s been a rougher one for West (0-2), which in addition to this defeat put up 58 points on opening night and still lost by one to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Click to read more from the Holland Sentinel.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 14, Muskegon Catholic Central 0 – This slugfest between annual powers could get cited in November if these two again make their usual deep playoff runs.
Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 28, Greenville 22 – Kenowa Hills is winning close (see also the four-point win over Traverse City West on opening night), but winning nonetheless.
Whitehall 28, Ravenna 7 – Whitehall joined the West Michigan Conference contenders in 2011 by beating Ravenna, and this seems to indicate that wasn’t just a one-year showing.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 28, Comstock Park 0 – The Falcons rebounded from a shutout in Indianapolis to shut out a team that won 10 games in 2011.
Southwest and Border
Morenci 34, Hudson 28
Keeping in mind that Morenci pushed into the playoffs as a 5-4 qualifier in 2011, this win was maybe a close second in significance. Maybe. Hudson (1-1) had won 33 straight regular-season games and at least 12 total in each of the last three seasons. The Tigers had beaten Morenci 10 straight times. Last but not least, this is Morenci’s first 2-0 start since 2001. Click to read more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Mattawan 49, Sturgis 27 – The Wildcats avenged last season’s nine-point loss in this matchup of 2011 playoff qualifiers to start 2-0 for the first time since 2006.
Schoolcraft 42, Constantine 32 – The Eagles broke a seven-game losing streak to Constantine and now look like the favorites in the Kalamazoo Valley Association.
Jonesville 52, Springport 51 – It’s big that these two scored a combined 103 points; it’s bigger that Jonesville won just once in 2011 and Springport was a playoff team.
Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 22, Kalamazoo Central 9 – This one always is significant, regardless of the talent on the two teams; Loy Norrix made it two straight in the series after previously dropping seven in a row.
Detroit East English 34, Detroit Martin Luther King 26
Make East English the favorite to finish first in the Detroit PSL East and rival Detroit Cass Tech as best in city. East English (1-1) and King (0-2) were considered the main contenders of their newly-formed division, and East English running back Desmond King averaged nearly 10 yards per carry to push his team to the forefront. King fell to 0-2. Click to read more from the Detroit Free Press.
Farmington 14, Southfield 6 – The Falcons have made the playoffs four straight seasons, so success is expected; this win was especially significant not only because it was the OAA White opener, but given Southfield’s impressive win over Detroit King during opening weekend.
Farmington Hills Harrison 19, Rochester Adams 7 – The OAA White is absolutely loaded, and these two are the usual favorites; Harrison sits atop the pack once again.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud 28, Dearborn 21 – This was just the third meeting between the two during the modern era, but also since 2009; it was also the first time Robichaud got the win.
Allen Park Cabrini 35, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 23 – Cabrini equaled both its total wins from last season (two) and Catholic League Intersectional wins (one).
Lower Up North
Traverse City West 16, Grand Haven 14
Aside from rivalry games victories over Traverse City Central, this might be West’s best win of the last five seasons. Grand Haven (1-1) is a force while playing in arguably the best league in the state – the O-K Red – and had beaten the Titans the last three seasons. It also was a great way for TC West (1-1) to bounce back after that four-point loss to Kenowa Hills on opening night. Click to read more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Cadillac 15, Bay City John Glenn 14 – Cadillac had lost five straight to John Glenn, including by 35 points in 2011.
Boyne City 18, Kent City 13 – Boyne City is 2-0 for the first time since 2008, also the last the last time the Ramblers made the playoffs.
Traverse City Central 50, Escanaba 6 – These longtime annual foes renewed their rivalry for the first time since 2007.
McBain 42, Manistee 40 – The Ramblers made it three straight over Manistee; the Chippewas finished just short after winning their opener by two points.
Thumb and Bay
Croswell-Lexington 27, Richmond 24
In the pecking order of the Port Huron area’s best, this combined with Richmond’s win over Marine City on opening night might mean the Pioneers are tops so far. Croswell-Lexington (2-0) didn’t take its first lead until 31 seconds remained in regulation and trailed 21-0 midway through the second quarter. But after edging the Mariners by a point, the Blue Devils (1-1) couldn’t regain the lead this time. Click to read more from the Port Huron Times Herald.
Flint Powers Catholic 27, Mount Pleasant 7 – The reigning Division 5 champion used a big second quarter to push ahead of the reigning Division 3 runner-up.
Saginaw Nouvel 33, Lansing Catholic 28 – The reigning Division 7 champion Panthers came back to edge the reigning Division 5 runner-up; the Cougars hadn’t lost during the regular season since 2009.
Midland 31, Davison 20 – Not too much flash and dash, just two solid wins now for the Chemics as they head into Saginaw Valley League North play.
Beaverton 14, Tawas 12 – The Beavers broke a 12-game losing streak on opening night and are 2-0 for the first time since 1984 after beating a 2011 playoff team this week.
Lansing Everett 38, DeWitt 10
This might’ve come as a shock to those not familiar with Lansing-area football. True, the Panthers had beaten the Vikings 48-7 in 2011. But Everett (2-0) has had nearly the same starting lineup the last three seasons and was picked by its league coaches to finish first in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue now that those players are juniors and seniors. The title quest begins this week, while DeWitt (1-1) remains the heavy favorite in the CAAC Red. Click to read more from the Lansing State Journal.
Belding 63, Lakewood 42 – This is one of five games statewide over the first two weeks in which the teams combined for more than 100 points and the losing team scored at least 40.
Bath 19, Fulton 17 – The Bees are 2-0 for the first time since 2000 and broke a 14-game losing streak to the Pirates after falling to them by just a point in 2011.
Haslett 28, Okemos 20 – This Meridian Bowl featured old rivals not just in that Haslett and Okemos share the same township, but because Chieftains coach Jack Wallace spent most of the last three decades coaching Fowlerville.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 49, Manistee Catholic Central 41 – The Irish made it seven straight over their former league foe, but not without 90 points being scored between the two.
Cedarville 32, Deckerville 8
Using the transitive property of who beat who, Cedarville might now be the team to beat in 8-player football this fall. The Trojans are 2-0 after going 9-2 and making a Regional Final in 2011. Deckerville opened the season with a 32-12 win over reigning MHSAA 8-player champion Carsonville-Port Sanilac, giving Cedarville something more to feel good about heading back into league play. Click and scroll to the bottom to read more from the Soo Evening News.
Negaunee 12, Calumet 6 – These two had last met in the regular season in 1958, but also in two playoff games since 1995; the Miners won both of those and this long-awaited rematch as well.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 35, Norway 22 – Norway made this much closer than last season’s 34-0 shutout, but the Trojans are 2-0 as usual heading into a tough matchup with Hurley (Wis.).
Powers North Central 36, Munising 12 – Good news for a North Central turnaround; the Jets fell to Munising 45-8 in 2011, when Munising finished in the playoffs and North Central ended 4-5.
L’Anse 40, Iron River West Iron County 20 – The Purple Hornets are 2-0, equaling last season’s win total, and with 74 points are also halfway to that 2011 output.
PHOTO: Midland quarterback Alec Johnson follows his blockers during last week's win over Davison. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)