By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
After two weeks of this high school football season, it’s impossible to know how much of what we’re seeing now will be applicable by playoff time or even later this month.
Many of the 45 achievers below are regularly mentioned in this report. Others likely are considered surprises at this point – but might not be for much longer.
"Drive for Detroit" is sponsored by MI Student Aid.
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Freeland 29, Essexville Garber 20 A 2-0 start isn’t unfamiliar to the Falcons – they’ve begun with two straight wins every season this decade. But coming off last week’s one-point victory over Marshall, this win over the Dukes also is noteworthy for the way Freeland (2-0) held on through the end – especially against a Garber team that opened with a nice win against Boyne City and just missed the playoffs a year ago. This also was an opener in the new-look Tri-Valley Conference Central, which includes most of the best from the East and Central over the past few seasons. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.
Watch list Midland 45, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 0 Although the Cavaliers (0-2) have stumbled so far, Midland’s opening run still needs some mention with this win added to the opening victory over Traverse City West. The Chemics started 0-2 against the same two teams a year ago and still finished 9-4 and made the Division 2 Semifinals.
Remember this one Lapeer 43, Midland Dow 6 The Chargers (0-2) have made the playoffs six years in a row, so Lapeer (1-1) bouncing back from its opening-night loss to Lake Orion in a big way deserves notice.
More shoutouts Saginaw Arthur Hill 40, Flint Southwestern 16 The Lumberjacks (1-1) ended a 25-game losing streak with their highest-scoring performance since 2013. Flint Kearsley 28, Ann Arbor Huron 6 A second win over a larger opponent has the Hornets (2-0) a win away from equaling last season’s total as they play for their first winning record since 2003.
HEADLINER Birmingham Groves 24, West Bloomfield 17 The Lakers (1-1) have been considered among early Division 1 championship favorites this fall and had beaten Groves in back-to-back nonleague matchups over the last two seasons. But this shouldn’t be considered entirely stunning by the Falcons (2-0), who finished 10-3 last season and made the Division 2 Semifinals. The ending, on the other hand, was a little wild with a pair of late special teams fumbles turning into scores, including the game-winner. Click for more from the Oakland Press.
Watch list Lake Orion 37, Southfield Arts & Technology 7 The Dragons (2-0) have put themselves in the spotlight quickly with two impressive wins after also downing Lapeer in the opener. The run is especially notable after the team’s 0-2 starts the last two seasons.
Remember this one Romeo 37, Port Huron Northern 6 Romeo is 2-0 for the first time since its Division 1 championship season of 2015, winning big against a Northern team that went 10-2 last season and won big as well in its opener this fall.
More shoutouts Warren Michigan Collegiate 30, Flint Beecher 6 The Cougars (2-0) roll into this week’s matchup with Detroit Country Day with an impressive win over a Bucs team that went 8-4 last season and started this fall with a sizable win. South Lyon 29, Trenton 21 The Lions are picking up where they left off after winning the Lakes Valley Conference in 2018, with Trenton (1-1) providing a strong challenge as it looks to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
HEADLINER Portland 29, DeWitt 27 This very well could end up the game of the regular season in the Lansing area, with two of the region’s most successful programs facing off and the reigning Division 5 runner-up Raiders holding the Panthers off during a scoreless fourth quarter. DeWitt (1-1) had won 18 straight regular-season games and is 77-8 during the regular season this decade. Portland (2-0) has now won 18 straight regular-season games and 37 of its last 38. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
— STATE CHAMPS! (@statechampsnet) September 7, 2019
Watch list Holt 22, Hudsonville 21 Welcome back Rams. A pair of 3-6 finishes the last two seasons were helped along in part by 0-2 starts. But Holt is 2-0 for the first time since 2007 and after deciding to go for a 2-point conversion and the win late against the Eagles (1-1).
Remember this one Ithaca 16, Millington 0 The Yellowjackets (2-0) avenged last season’s playoff opener loss to the Cardinals (0-2), and now they are in the same league.
More shoutouts St. Johns 46, Ann Arbor Pioneer 33 After being shut out by East Lansing last week, the Redwings (1-1) bounced back by avenging a 2018 one-point loss to Pioneer (1-1). Lansing Catholic 56, Grand Rapids West Catholic 28 After two games this fall the Cougars have scored 112 points – nearly one-third of their total over 11 games a year ago – and this week beat the always playoff-bound Falcons (0-2) for the second straight season.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Maple City Glen Lake 28, Traverse City St. Francis 7 September isn’t two weeks old, but it’s hard to not anticipate some good things ahead for the Lakers (2-0) after they opened with a win over Millington and followed up by breaking an eight-game losing streak against the Gladiators (1-1) this weekend. St. Francis won last year’s meeting 50-12 and hadn’t been held to single digits in a regular-season game since 2013. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle and see highlights below from MI Sports Now.
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) September 7, 2019
Watch list Traverse City Central 37, Marquette 28 After falling to DeWitt by just five points at home Week 1, the Trojans (1-1) hit the road and ran their winning streak to six straight over Marquette (0-2).
Remember this one Charlevoix 18, Boyne City 14 The Rayders (2-0) won just once in 2018 and last opened with two straight wins in 2016, when they also last made the playoffs.
More shoutouts Cheboygan 8, Grayling 6 The Chiefs (1-1) are working toward their first playoff berth since 2013 and are a step closer after ending a recent three-game losing streak to Grayling (1-1). McBain 31, Roscommon 0 The Ramblers (1-1) also bounced back from a Week 1 loss by downing a Bucks team that is so far winless but finished 10-2 a year ago.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Erie Mason 80, Britton Deerfield 42 These two tied for the 14th-most points in an 11-player game where the losing team put up at least 40, and Erie Mason improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2003 while guaranteeing to tie its best finish for an entire season since 2005. Through two weeks quarterback Noah Beaudrie has thrown for 473 yards and six touchdowns and run for 509 and eight scores. The Patriots (1-1), meanwhile, upped their season scoring average to 35 ppg despite the defeat.
Watch list Clinton 45, Blissfield 13 Last season’s Tri-County Conference runner-up Clinton (2-0) will enter league play 2-0 for the first time since 2016 after avenging last season’s loss to the Royals (1-1), who opened this fall with a 19-point win over reigning TCC champion Ottawa Lake Whiteford.
Remember this one Sand Creek 31, Adrian Lenawee Christian 28 The Aggies (2-0) also play in the strong TCC, so this last-minute win over postseason regular Lenawee Christian (1-1) could end up a difference-maker when playoff selection time rolls around.
More shoutouts Jackson Lumen Christi 22, Parma Western 7 The Titans (2-0) pushed their winning streak to 25, and if it continues to grow this Interstate 8 Athletic Conference opener could be looked back at as key with Western (1-1) staying close into the fourth quarter. Temperance Bedford 20, Flushing 19 Bedford bounced back from a Week 1 loss to earn what could be a key win for its playoff hopes against a Flushing team that has made the last two postseasons but finds itself 0-2 with those defeats by a combined 12 points.
HEADLINER Portage Northern 14, Stevensville Lakeshore 6 In keeping with recent history, this matchup was decided by eight or fewer points for the eighth time in nine seasons and gives reigning league co-champ Northern (2-0) a valuable early edge in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West race. But 2017 champ Lakeshore is far from being out of it, and a few more contenders also could have a say. Click for more from JoeInsider.com and see below for highlights from FOX 17.
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 7, 2019
Watch list Kalamazoo Central 40, Portage Central 27 Defeating Portage Central last season was the first sign of Kalamazoo Central’s rise that turned into a league title and its first playoff berth since 2004. So the Maroon Giants (1-1) should be excited about the possibilities after bouncing back from last week’s one-point defeat to Mattawan with another notable victory over the annually-strong Mustangs (1-1).
Remember this one Cassopolis 28, Mendon 0 The Rangers (2-0) ran their scoring margin for the season to an early 78-0 advantage and earned a significant edge in their quest to repeat as Southwest 10 Conference champions, as 2017 winner Mendon (1-1) is always in the hunt as well.
More shoutouts Watervliet 22, Saugatuck 14 This was a major win as the Panthers (1-1) work to rebound from last season’s 2-7 finish; Saugatuck (1-1) was 9-2 a year ago and has won at least that many games four straight seasons. Battle Creek Lakeview 28, Mattawan 12 The Spartans (2-0) have had a few tough seasons but with this win tied their victory total of a year ago and against a Mattawan team that has made the playoffs two straight years.
HEADLINER Iron Mountain 42, Ishpeming Westwood 22 Two weeks into the season, Iron Mountain (2-0) could have its two main obstacles out of the way as it looks to challenge reigning champion Calumet in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper. This week’s win followed up last week’s over Negaunee, and the Copper Kings await in Week 6. Westwood (1-1) was second and Iron Mountain third in the league last season. Click for more from the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Watch list Ishpeming 36, Lake Linden-Hubbell 34 The Hematites (2-0) are reigning champions in the West-PAC Iron and setting themselves up to be in the mix again, although the Lakes (1-1) could still find themselves in contention as well with a little help.
Remember this one Manistique 28, Gwinn 8 The Emeralds broke a 21-game losing streak on the field (not counting forfeits for games not played last season) with their first win since Week 9 of 2015.
More shoutouts Gladstone 20, Gaylord 7 The Braves (2-0) are halfway to last year’s win total with this one over a Gaylord team that made the playoffs last season and now sits 1-1 this fall. Sault Ste. Marie 20, Alpena 14 The Blue Devils (2-0) also downed a Big North Conference opponent, avenging last season’s loss to the Wildcats (0-2).
HEADLINER Muskegon 41, Detroit Martin Luther King 18 It’s impossible to not lead with Muskegon for the second straight week after the Big Reds defeated their second reigning MHSAA champion already this fall. And this one surely meant a little more as it came in a rematch of last season’s Division 3 championship game, won by King 41-25. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
VIDEO: Check out the highlights of the Muskegon (@mbigredsports) at Detroit King football game from last night.
— STATE CHAMPS! (@statechampsnet) September 7, 2019
Watch list Caledonia 19, Cedar Springs 12 The Fighting Scots’ Week 1 loss to Holt is looking even better after Holt beat Hudsonville, and this victory over Cedar Springs (1-1) says a lot about Caledonia’s potential heading into Ottawa-Kent Conference Red play starting this week.
Remember this one Byron Center 33, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 14 After two straight sub-.500 seasons, the Bulldogs (2-0) also could be on their way to big things after sending the Trojans to 1-1.
More shoutouts Rockford 24, Lowell 7 The Rams evened these teams’ latest four-game series at 2-2 and moved to 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2014. Zeeland West 48, Grand Rapids Christian 27 The Dux (2-0) added to their opening-night win over East Grand Rapids with another impressive one, as the Eagles (0-2) likely will be in the mix again in the O-K Gold.
HEADLINER Pellston 42, Posen 38 The Hornets finished 4-5 in their first season of 8-player football in 2018, winning four of their final six games. This fall they’re off to a 2-0 start, and a first winning season since 1995 might become part of the conversation soon. Pellston scored the go-ahead touchdown against Posen (0-2) with 5:03 to play after trailing by 18 midway through the third quarter. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.
Watch list Vestaburg 22, North Adams-Jerome 6 The Wolverines (2-0) moved to 8-player football this fall, and so far so good after finishing 0-9 last season and 1-8 in 2017.
Remember this one Bridgman 46, St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 8 It also will be interesting to see how this first season of 8-player goes for Bridgman, which has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 102-24.
More shoutouts Martin 20, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 0 Martin (2-0) also is a first-year 8-player program and its scores the last two weeks have been much closer, but against two of the traditional best in Bellevue and this week Tri-unity (0-2). Powers North Central 62, Rapid River 6 These Jets (2-0) are scoring like the title-winning Jets of a few seasons ago, with a combined 128 points over their first two games.
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PHOTO: A Marquette defender closes in Friday as Traverse City Central quarterback Peyton Smith decides if he will hand off or keep the ball. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)
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.)