By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
If Week 4 was an indication, there will be a few new leaders of their packs by the end of this football regular season.
This weekend's highlights included the end of one of the most impressive league winning streaks in the state, a few more headlining upsets and the emergence of a handful of other teams that haven't made the "Drive" in a few seasons.
Bay & Thumb
Midland 21, Mount Pleasant 14
Five of the last six meetings between these Saginaw Valley League Red rivals have been decided by eight points or fewer, with Midland running its streak to three straight over the Oilers. Both are considered playoff contenders this fall, lining up potentially in Division 2 – and if that happens, it’s a strong possibility they could meet again. The Chemics (4-0) also equaled last season’s win total, while Mount Pleasant fell to 3-1. Click for more from the Midland Daily News.
Sanford Meridian 32, Clare 10 – After falling to Clare (1-3) by only two points a year ago, Meridian (4-0) this time ended the Pioneers’ 33-game Jack Pine Conference winning streak that went back to 2010.
Flint Beecher 26, Goodrich 9 – The reigning champion Bucs (4-0) are in the Genesee Area Conference Red driver’s seat again after downing last season’s league runner-up, Goodrich (2-2).
Flint Powers Catholic 10, Davison 0 – After falling to Flushing on opening night, the Chargers (3-1) have given up seven points total in three games, with Davison (2-2) the second to be held scoreless.
Ubly 36, Marlette 12 – The Bearcats equaled their win totals of each of the last two seasons in moving to 3-1 for the first time since 2011, while beating Marlette (3-1) for the first time since 2012.
Warren DeLaSalle 30, Birmingham Brother Rice 6
Reigning Division 2 champion DeLaSalle (3-1) had fallen to Brother Rice by seven points or fewer both of the last two seasons, but got past the Warriors for the first time since 2011 to start the Detroit Catholic League schedule off with a key victory. The Warriors (1-3) had three losses combined from 2012-14, but also opened this fall with three tough out-of-state opponents. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.
Lincoln Park 18, Wyandotte Roosevelt 15 – The Railsplitters (3-1) are for real, this week equaling last season’s win total to tie for their best finish already since 2005, while downing annual Downriver League contender Roosevelt (3-1).
St. Clair Shores South Lake 34, Clinton Township Clintondale 8 – The Cavaliers (4-0) continued their nice comeback from 2-7 a year ago and can now circle Oct. 16 against Madison Heights Madison as the possible decider in the Macomb Area Conference Silver, although Clintondale (3-1) remains in the chase facing Madison the week before.
Dearborn Heights Robichaud 49, Redford Thurston 21 – Playoff regular Thurston (2-2) presented a new league challenge to Robichaud (4-0), but not enough as the Bulldogs moved to 2-0 in the Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue.
Plymouth 24, Livonia Churchill 16 – The Wildcats (3-1) owed this rival some big payback after last season’s 42-0 loss to the Chargers (2-2) that broke a string of three straight games between the two decided by a touchdown or less.
Portland 28, Lansing Catholic 6
Consider Portland’s comeback complete. Not only the Raiders beat their third 2014 playoff team already this fall, and not only did they equal last season’s win total after just four games. But Portland (4-0) also took a major step ahead in the Capital Area Activities Conference White, downing the reigning Division 5 runner-up and holding the usually high-powered Cougars (3-1) to their fewest points since 2009. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
Brighton 35, Grand Blanc 12 – The Bulldogs (4-0) also equaled their win total from last season, beating Grand Blanc (3-1) during the regular season for the first time in their seven recent meetings as part of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association.
St. Johns 34, Haslett 32 – The Redwings (3-1) just keep looking more impressive and held off a late charge by Haslett (3-1) to become DeWitt’s biggest obstacle in the CAAC Red.
Lake Odessa Lakewood 61, Stockbridge 42 – There were few defensive stops as Lakewood (4-0) not only equaled its 2014 win total but pulled into lead position ahead of the Panthers (3-1) in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference.
Jackson 35, Lansing Sexton 34 – The Vikings (3-1) bounced back from last week’s seven-point loss by beating Sexton (0-4) for the first time since 2006; the Big Reds’ defeats this season are by a combined 24 points.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Alpena 21, Cadillac 18
Alpena (2-2) has had its share of football struggles over the last decade, but is showing signs of a team on the rise – including this first win over Cadillac since 2007. The Wildcats opened with two losses by 14 and then nine points, respectively, but are 2-0 in the Big North Conference for the first time since their last playoff season of 2004. Cadillac (0-4) owns two three-point losses this season, contributing to its toughest start since 2003 – but could make a run to the finish and hope to reach the postseason at 5-4. Click for more from the Alpena News.
Boyne City 55, Kingsley 28 – The Ramblers (4-0) gave up their most points this season but also scored their most since Week 9 of 2014 against a Kingsley team (2-2) that hadn’t given up more than 14.
Grayling 48, Charlevoix 36 – The Vikings (3-1) pulled within a win of matching last season’s success by extending their streak over the Red Rayders (2-2) to seven straight.
Hillman 22, Rogers City 6 – While never in the same division of the North Star League, this two have played each other for 12 consecutive years; the Tigers (3-1) made it five in a row over Rogers City (2-2), which opened the series with seven straight wins.
Traverse City Central 28, Whitehall 21 – The Trojans (4-0) continued their surge, following up a close win over rival West last week with an impressive victory over previously-undefeated Whitehall (3-1).
Southeast & Border
Brooklyn Columbia Central 21, Hudson 0
The Golden Eagles (4-0) have made a 180-degree turn from last season’s 0-6 start, which included a 43-7 loss to Hudson. Columbia Central won a combined seven games over the last three seasons but looks like the favorite in the Lenawee County Athletic Association after downing the reigning champion Tigers (2-2) and also 2014 runner-up Hillsdale in Week 3. Click for more from the Brooklyn Exponent.
Manchester 23, Grass Lake 13 – The Dutchmen (3-1) have taken control of this Cascades Conference rivalry with three straight wins over the Warriors (2-2).
Petersburg-Summerfield 38, Ottawa Lake-Whiteford 18 – The Bulldogs (3-1) succeeded in bouncing back quickly after losing last week to Morenci, and now will root for Whiteford (3-1) to beat Morenci in Week 7.
Monroe 41, Ann Arbor Skyline 6 – The Southeastern Conference Red is loaded this fall, making this a key win for the Trojans (3-1) over improved Skyline (2-2).
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 27, New Boston Huron 7 – The Falcons (4-0) could be headed for a second straight Huron League title after beating New Boston Huron (2-2), last season’s runner-up.
Berrien Springs 7, Cassopolis 0
This matchup of former Lakeland Conference rivals might turn out to be a meeting between eventual Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference champions. Berrien Springs scored near the end of the first quarter, and hung on through a weather delay to hand Cassopolis (3-1) its first loss. The Shamrocks (4-0) are one of four teams in the BCS White, while the Rangers are one of four in the BCS Red and frontrunners in that league thanks to a Week 2 win over Mendon. Click for more from the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium.
Stevensville Lakeshore 28, St. Joseph 14 – Lakeshore (3-1) remains in the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West race thanks to this win, necessary after a one-point loss to Portage Central in Week 3; St. Joseph (3-1) gets Portage Central in Week 9.
Hartford 32, Gobles 29 – The Indians (1-3) struggled at the start this season, but handed Gobles (3-1) its first loss of the fall.
Edwardsburg 26, Paw Paw 6 – The new-look Wolverine B Conference is filled with contenders, but Edwardsburg (4-0) remains at the top after downing playoff regular Paw Paw (2-2).
Battle Creek Lakeview 48, Mattawan 14 – After two straight losses and with two tough league crossovers ahead, the Spartans (2-2) needed a stand against a Mattawan team (2-2) in a similar spot.
Newberry 31, Munising 14
It's early, of course. But at 3-1 and with a win over Munising, Newberry could be setting up for its best season in more than a decade. The Indians will have a tough time winning the Mid-Eastern Conference after losing to Bark River-Harris in Week 3, but are two wins off last season’s total and haven’t won six games since 2005. The Mustangs (3-1), last season’s Division 8 runners-up, had won 17 straight regular-season games and can create an interesting scenario at the top of the league standings when they face Bark River-Harris in Week 7.
Marquette 28, Escanaba 21 – The Redmen (1-3) loaded their nonleague slate and got off to a tough start, but are in first in the Great Northern Upper Peninsula Conference with Escanaba (2-2) dropping its second straight.
Crystal Falls Forest Park 28, Felch North Dickinson 20 – The Trojans (2-2) have had three games decided by eight points or fewer, and this was the first in their favor; it also dropped the Nordics to 1-3.
Negaunee 28, Iron Mountain 14 – Negaunee (4-0) avenged a three-point loss to the Mountaineers (2-2) from last season to move to 2-0 in the Mid-Peninsula Conference.
Ishpeming 46, Ishpeming Westwood 6 – The Hematites (4-0) continue to own this rivalry with 20 straight wins over the Patriots (2-2).
Zeeland West 38, Comstock Park 28
This was one of the most challenging wins of the Dux’ 20-game regular-season winning streak, and certainly a different story than last season’s 57-7 win over Comstock Park. The Panthers (3-1) jumped out to a two-touchdown lead before the punishing running game and defense caught stride for West (4-0). Both are favorites in their divisions of the Ottawa-Kent Conference, with play beginning this week. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.
Muskegon Mona Shores 30, Caledonia 7 – The offense gets the praise, but the defense definitely was most impressive in this one for the Sailors (4-0), who have given up only 31 points this season; Caledonia (2-2) hadn’t scored in single digits since its last meeting with Mona Shores a year ago.
Muskegon 56, East Grand Rapids 28 – The Big Reds (3-1) got four touchdowns from quarterback Kalil Pimpleton after the teams were tied 21-21, and the Pioneers (3-1) were unable to keep pace.
Grand Rapids Christian 24, Zeeland East 20 – While nonleague, this was key for the Eagles (3-1) with the Chix (3-1) one of a number of tough teams dotting the final two thirds of the schedule.
Grand Rapids West Catholic 45, Hudsonville Unity Christian 28 – Handing the Crusaders (3-1) their first loss should provide a nice confidence boost for a West Catholic team (2-2) that had won 23 straight games before dropping two of three to start this fall.
Cedarville 18, Onaway 12
Few have given Cedarville (3-1) a regular-season challenge during the 8-player era, but Onaway (2-2) didn’t make the move to 8-player until this season – and was a solid 4-5 a year ago playing 11-player in the Ski Valley Conference. Onaway’s other loss this season was to Rapid River – which gave Cedarville its only defeat.
Posen 42, Bellaire 6 – The Vikings (4-0) are looking like contenders in Bridge Alliance Conference after arguably their most impressive win since also beating Bellaire (2-2) in 2013.
Burton Madison 38, Akron-Fairgrove 16 – Madison (2-1), in only its eighth game every of 8-player, handed a first loss this season to the much more experienced Vikings (3-1).
PHOTO: Montrose, on defense, stopped Durand 69-0 on Friday to bounce back from two straight losses and improve to 2-2.
Kingsley football fans have become pretty familiar with VIP parking for home games over the last couple of seasons.
They may just start looking for a Kingsley VIP lot at Ford Field. The Stags just captured the MHSAA Division 6 championship trophy with a 38-24 victory over Almont, their second Finals championship and first since 2005.
The road to the Finals started with Kingsley hosting two playoff games, allowing great use of the VIP Parking of Trina’s Touchdown Club. The lot is adjacent to the school’s Rodes Field and provided in loving memory of Katrina “Trina” Kay Schueller, who passed away Oct. 21, 2021, at Munson Medical Center.
Those playoff games filling Trina’s Touchdown Club’s parking lot featured wins over Mason County Central 61-12 and Manistee 37-18, and 51-27 over Gladstone in the Regional Final. Kingsley then traveled down the road and defeated Reed City 37-7 in the Semifinal.
There may not have been designated VIP parking in Cadillac and Ford Field for the Stags’ followers, but there were a lot of VIPs at both stadiums with Schueller on their minds. Pretty much everyone with an affiliation with the highly-successful program or familiarity with the community’s struggles have become VIPs to the Kingsley coaching staff and many others.
Most certainly among the VIPs are head coach Tim Wooer, assistant coach Conner Schueller, his brother Carter Schueller, and his father Mike Schueller.
Conner was set to play the biggest regular-season game of his career the day after his mom passed. It was the regular-season finale against rival Traverse City St. Francis.
Wooer vividly remembers the moments leading up to that matchup, noting how difficult it was for Conner. But his then-fullback and now-assistant coach demonstrated amazing strength and maturity he stills exhibits today.
“He’s in his senior football season, and his mom is in the hospital for four weeks — he’s balancing that playing football and going to school,” Wooer recalled. “And then she passes, and he has the strength to come back to school and deliver the news to our team.
“I am sobbing watching this kid, and I’m just amazed,” Wooer continued. “The next night is Parents Night, and he’s on the field with his dad and brother without his mom.”
Conner still played, making a 4th-down goal line tackle to prevent a St. Francis touchdown. The Gladiators won the game, but Conner won the day, conquering much just to dress for the game.
The Stags went on to playoff wins over Kingsford 28-10 and Clare 32-6. They bowed out with a 33-18 Regional loss to Frankenmuth.
Conner’s junior year of 2020 had been cut short as the Kingsley was forced to forfeit its District Final to Reed City because several players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. The Stags had Ford Field in their minds that season too after playoff wins over 38-13 Standish-Sterling 38-13 and Gladwin 63-16.
Conner, who celebrated his 20th birthday at Saturday’s Final, remembers his playing days and the challenges presented him.
“At the time it was ‘she’s not there,’ especially my senior year she wasn’t there to watch me and finish it out, but I know she’s watching above,” he said. “We were about to go play Reed City my junior year for Regionals, and everyone got sick and it ended our season unfortunately.”
Those challenges were on his mind at Ford Field, and running through his mind when he saw his brother and father in the stands. Carter, now a senior at Kingsley, had been unable to play football due to injuries.
“I thought about my brother – he unfortunately didn’t play this year due to his injuries, and I don’t really blame him for that,” Conner said. “I thought about him as well because it was just me and my dad and my brother now.
“It was very emotional,” Conner continued. “I got a glimpse of him in the strands.”
Carter also was filled with gratitude for the coaching staff for welcoming and mentoring him. He had become keenly aware of the amount of time coaches spend away from family at practices and going through film.
In addition to his family, Conner was thinking about many others in the Kingsley community – and other senior classes like his that didn’t get the chance to celebrate a championship.
He also was thinking about Justin Hansen, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley. Hansen was a captain on the 2002 conference championship team. He went on to become a special-operations Marine sergeant and was killed in action July 24, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan. Hansen was on patrol as part of an operation in search of a high-value target when his team was hit with small arms fire.
On Saturday, Wooer was wearing a red T-shirt with the letters “USA” on the front and the name “Hansen” on the back. It also featured the number 54, Hansen’s in high school.
Wooer, who turned 54 in July, wore the shirt in Hansen’s memory knowing Hansen would be on the veteran coach’s mind and symbolizing Hansen’s presence with the team at Ford Field.
Wooer wants to make sure Hanson is never forgotten and reminds the soldier’s family the entire community remains behind them.
“I believe it is part of our job as a community to show our love to this family and help in any way possible to help them get through this process,” Wooers said. “After the funeral, we all went about life.
“We certainly still think about Justin and feel the pain,” he continued. “But nothing like a family does.”
Hansen’s tragic passing led to the creation of the annual Patriot Game in Traverse City in 2012 while Wooer was coaching Traverse City West. The game features crosstown rivals West and Traverse City Central every year and strives to honor veterans, first responders, active duty military, and area heroes who died while serving their country.
Saturday’s win over Almont left Wooer emotionally exhausted after all the preparations to do it right for the senior class, the school, the Kingsley community, the Schueller family and Hansen. Collectively, they’ve really become more like a family to the Stags coaching staff and many, many others.
“In terms of emotions, there is no doubt Justin was on my mind throughout the game,” Wooer said. “Trina and Conner have been – those are two huge pieces.
“And, a lot of my thoughts are with the seniors,” he continued. “You want to win the game, but also it is your last time with them.”
Wooer has learned a lot from his former players and coaches over the years. He’s become close friends with many of them, going back to his early days of coaching as a student-teacher at Elk Rapids. He also coached at Farewell and Traverse City West, the latter from 2008-2017 after a first tenure at Kingsley. He returned to Kingsley in 2018.
Schueller is among several former players and coaches who have been on Wooer’s coaching staffs over the years. Several continue today.
“I could give you lots of other stories about kids I have had,” Wooer said. “There comes this transition where they turn into such amazing men, you catch yourself every once in a while saying, ‘I want to be like him.’
“You get this huge smile on your face because you’re so proud of them, just like a mother or father would,” Wooer continued. “A coach always looks at his players like they’re part of his family.”
In addition to Conner, current assistants with long-term relationships with Wooer are Tom Kaleita, Kyle Smith, Ryan Zenner, Dan Goethals, Josh Merchant, Jordan Bradford, Steve Klinge, Connor Schueller, Mike Arlt, Larry Mikowski, Bobby Howell, Rob Whims and Jason Morrow.
This year’s seniors were Jon Pearson, Eli Graves, Skylar Workman, Gavyn Merchant, Max Goethals, Evan Trafford, Bode Bielas, Grant Kolbusz, James Person, Caleb Bott, Trenton Peacock, Noah Scribner and Gavin Dear. They and the coaching staff will be the center of attention as the community celebrates the football team at 7 p.m. this evening in the high school gymnasium.
The seniors probably won’t need VIP parking tonight. But if it would help, Conner would surely make arrangements to utilize Trina’s Touchdown Club. He’d have to add a shuttle though as Rodes Field is about a mile away from the school.
“It feels amazing — I don’t think it really hit any one yet, but I am sure it will,” Conner said. “After we won, it is truly something – it is something else I can’t explain.
“The seniors finally won it the way they were supposed to,” he continued. “It was a good class of seniors.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Kingsley students support their classmates during Saturday’s Division 6 Final at Ford Field. (2) Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back. (3) Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right. (4) Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. (Ford Field photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; touchdown club photo courtesy of the Kingsley football program.)