By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Admittedly, last week's statewide slate of varsity football games didn't appear that intriguing on first glance.
Of course, that means we ended up with more noteworthy results than we expected – and some hard decisions picking which had the biggest impacts as we completed the first third of this season.
See below for five of the most significant finishes from every region of the state, plus links to coverage from those that stuck out most.
Bay & Thumb
Marlette 27, Reese 26
The Red Raiders are 3-0 for the fourth time in five seasons, but living a little on the edge after also beating Bad Axe by a point in Week 2. Reese (0-3) opened with 20 straight points, and took back the lead after Marlette’s first go-ahead score made it 21-20 during the second quarter. The Red Raiders took the lead back for good with a final score with just more than six minutes to play. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.
Pinconning 28, Whittemore-Prescott 6 – The Spartans (2-1) ended a five-game losing streak to the Cardinals (1-2), a 10-win team last season, with Pinconning’s start its best since its last playoff season of 2009.
Algonac 50, Imlay City 0 – The Muskrats’ story keeps getting better, with its 3-0 start equaling its best season finish since 2007 and its best start since 1972.
Lake Fenton 49, Montrose 21 – The Blue Devils (2-1) no doubt were happy to equal last season’s win total by contributing to the rival Rams’ first 1-2 start since 2009.
Saginaw Swan Valley 26, Alma 21 – The Vikings are finding their way post-Alex Grace, and moved to 2-1 by handing the Panthers (2-1) their first loss
Warren Mott 32, Macomb Dakota 27
After surging to a 26-0 lead, Mott held on against what was one of the state’s most impressive teams of the first two weeks. Dakota opened this fall by ending two-time reigning Division 1 champion Clarkston’s 27-game winning streak, then beat rival Clinton Township Chippewa Valley in Week 2. But Mott moved to 3-0 and in doing so gained nice footing in a Macomb Area Conference Red race that could be one of the most competitive in the state. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 32, Sterling Heights Stevenson 28 – Quarterback Patrick Briningstool’s two touchdown passes during the final five minutes finished a late comeback for the Big Reds (2-1), who avenged last season’s loss to the Titans (2-1).
Detroit Martin Luther King 20, Detroit East English 15 – The Crusaders (3-0) withstood their first tough challenge of the Detroit Public School League schedule and earned their second win by five or fewer points while handing East English (2-1) its first loss.
Sterling Heights 13, St. Clair 10 – The Stallions won two games combined over the last two seasons but are 3-0 for the first time since 1987 after dropping St. Clair to 0-3.
West Bloomfield 35, Clarkston 21 – The Lakers moved to 3-0 for the first time since 1989 thanks in part to four TD runs by Trishton Jackson, while the tough early go continued for the Wolves (1-2).
Grand Ledge 34, Lansing Sexton 32
Grand Ledge had to outlast a previously inexperienced but quickly improving Sexton team to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2011. After just one game of league play, the Comets look like strong favorites in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue, with Jackson the only other team in the league with fewer than two losses overall. Sexton (0-3) hadn’t lost a league game since Week 8 of 2012. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
East Lansing 28, Jackson 21 – Before handing Jackson (2-1) its first loss, the Trojans (1-2) had fallen by only 13 and seven points, respectively, to teams a combined 5-1.
Dansville 40, Fulton 27 – The Aggies have solidified themselves as a top-four team in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference the last few seasons, and for the second year in a row will take on powers Pewamo-Westphalia and Fowler in back-to-back weeks off a 3-0 start.
St. Johns 49, Mason 28 – Seemingly forgotten again in a league with usual favorites DeWitt and Mason (2-1), St. Johns (2-1) looks every bit the contender in the CAAC Red.
Eaton Rapids 34, Ionia 26 (2 OT) – These teams are in similar position in the CAAC White, both facing tough opponents ahead and Eaton Rapids (2-1) thankful for a slight upper hand as Ionia (1-2) must continue to build after a second loss by six or fewer points.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Traverse City Central 32, Traverse City West 26 (OT)
This season’s Patriot Game again went to Traverse City Central, which also celebrated the 600th win in program history and sits fifth all-time among Michigan high schools for varsity football victories. The Trojans (3-0) have beaten rival West (0-3) three of the last four seasons in the annual game at Thirlby Field. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Hillman 35, AuGres-Sims 20 – The Tigers (2-1) bounced back from a Week 2 loss to continue a recent winning streak over the North Star rival Wolverines (0-3).
Petoskey 38, Cadillac 13 – The Northmen (2-1) also bounced back from a Week 2 loss to down reigning Big North Conference champion Cadillac (0-3) for the first time since 2011.
Gaylord 17, Escanaba 7 – The Blue Devils (3-0) won this matchup of previous unbeatens, although Escanaba’s start remains its best since 2011.
Grayling 30, Maple City Glen Lake 15 – The Vikings (2-1) got back on the right foot quickly after a big Week 2 loss to rival Gaylord by handing league foe Glen Lake (2-1) its first loss this fall.
Southeast & Border
Morenci 22, Petersburg-Summerfield 8
Morenci’s success of a year ago wasn’t a one-time surge – the Bulldogs have now beaten three 2014 playoff teams to open this fall. Morenci has given up only single-digit points in nine its last 12 regular-season games, although the Tri-County Conference challenges should be tougher this time with Sand Creek rejuvenated and Clinton and Ottawa Lake-Whiteford both undefeated as well so far. Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.
Brooklyn Columbia Central 26, Hillsdale 22 – The Eagles (3-0) won two games last season and hadn’t beaten Hillsdale (1-2) since 2011, including a 41-3 loss to the Hornets a year ago.
Homer 32, Concord 30 – The Trojans (2-1) took the momentum away from Concord (2-1), which had celebrated the week before a solid win over reigning Big Eight Conference champion Union City.
Jackson Lumen Christi 20, Battle Creek Harper Creek 17 – The Titans (3-0) remained undefeated with their second win this season by three points or fewer, and this one much closer than last year’s 34-14 win over Harper Creek (1-2).
Vandercook Lake 41, Addison 7 – The Jayhawks (3-0) early are outscoring opponents on average 36-7 during their best start since 2008.
Portage Central 7, Stevensville Lakeshore 6
This was the second time in four seasons these teams played to within a point of each other – the other two games were decided by three and 10 – and Portage Central avenged last season’s 20-17 loss in part by blocking Lakeshore’s extra-point try with just under 10 minutes to play. The Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West rivals have split their last four meetings – with the winner of this game going on to win the league title the last three seasons. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.
Battle Creek Central 35, Battle Creek Lakeview 27 – Central (1-2) broke a four-game losing streak against Lakeview (1-2) after scoring only seven points against the Spartans during those previous four matchups.
Delton Kellogg 21, Constantine 18 – The Panthers (2-1) had dropped all six meetings with Constantine (1-2) when the two were in the former Kalamazoo Valley Association, but are 1-0 against the Falcons now that they are in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Kalamazoo Central 18, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 6 – This gives the Maroon Giants (1-2) a 4-3 advantage over the recent history of this rivalry after Loy Norrix (1-2) won last season 20-19.
Coldwater 35, Battle Creek Pennfield 8 – The undefeated Cardinals (3-0) have yet to give up more than eight points in a game this fall and haven’t given up double digits in the regular season since Week 7 of 2014.
Bark River-Harris 56, Newberry 34
Every week the wins are getting more impressive for Bark River-Harris, which moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2009 while handing Newberry (2-1) its first loss. The Broncos literally have doubled their offensive output every week this season, from 14 points in a one-point win over Crystal Falls Forest Park on opening night, to 28 against Gogebic last week and 56 on Friday. Click for more from the Escanaba Daily Press.
Ishpeming Westwood 20, L’Anse 12 – The Patriots (2-1) won this first matchup between these two since the early 1990s, with L’Anse dropping its first game after two league wins.
Munising 12, Felch North Dickinson 8 – Make that 11 straight regular-season wins for the Mustangs (3-0), although the Nordics (1-2) gave them the toughest test during that run.
Iron Mountain 26, Iron River West Iron County 0 – The Mountaineers (2-0) avenged a 24-0 shutout from a year ago at the hands of the rival Wykons (0-3).
Sault Ste. Marie 35, Marquette 21 – The Blue Devils (2-1) broke a five-game losing streak to Marquette (0-3) to move to 2-1 for the first time since 2008.
Muskegon 39, Grandville 12
Friday turned into a flood of historical references and national headlines from Michigan's west coast after Muskegon became the state's first high school football program to earn 800 varsity wins – which also puts the Big Reds tied for ninth in national high school history. They are 2-1 this season and 800-274-43 dating to 1895 (and watch for more on this on Second Half soon from MHSAA historian Ron Pesch, a Muskegon resident and the expert on the subject). Grandville fell to 2-1. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.
East Grand Rapids 35, Caledonia 28 – With plenty of tough competition ahead, this was huge for the Pioneers (3-0) as Caledonia (2-1) also has been one of this area’s most impressive teams early.
Zealand East 39, Hudsonville 33 – Last season’s uncharacteristic 2-7 finish for East (3-0) included a 40-0 loss to Hudsonville (2-1), making this a pretty significant turnaround to say the least.
Ada Forest Hills Eastern 48, Grand Rapids West Catholic 15 – This is a signature win for the still-emerging coach Eddie Ostipow era at Forest Hills Eastern (3-0); the Hawks had dropped all three of their recent meetings with the two-time reigning Division 5 champion.
Muskgon Mona Shores 31, Rockford 10 – Last season’s three-point loss to Rockford (1-2) was Mona Shores’ only defeat of the regular season; the Sailors (3-0) might be even stronger this fall and will have more opportunities to prove it.
Rapid River 28, Cedarville 14 – As explained last week, Cedarville’s only regular-season losses of the last three years have come, now three times, to the Rockets (3-0). But for the first time since both moved to 8-player football, they aren’t in the same league – which means a possible rematch in the playoffs for the second straight year would mean infinitely more than this appetizer.
Peck 28, Kinde-North Huron 22 – The generally-powerful Pirates came back from a significant Week 2 loss to Morrice by taking an early upper hand in the North Central Thumb 8-Man League.
Powers North Central 76, Bellaire 14 – Circle Week 8 against Rapid River on the North Central schedule; the Jets (3-0), in their first season of 8-player, are looking that dangerous after winning big over another of the annual powers in Bellaire (2-1).
PHOTO: St. Louis, here adding a few more points in last week's 38-6 win over Breckenridge, is 3-0 for the first time since 1978. (Click for 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 email@example.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.)