By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Start printing the tickets.
A total of 55 undefeated 11-player football teams have clinched spots in this season’s 256-team field, all but one doing so with wins during our latest highlight-filled weekend. (Jackson Lumen Christi, playing eight regular-season games, clinched a berth in Week 5.)
Our look below at 45 results from Friday and Saturday notes many of these, but focuses mostly on league races – some partially clinched, many still completely up for grabs with three weeks to play until the postseason begins.
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Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER: Saginaw Swan Valley 34, Alma 6 The Vikings (6-0) clinched a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Central title for the second straight season with another stifling defensive performance. Swan Valley has given up 54 points total this season and no more than seven in four league games. Alma (5-1) hadn’t been held to so few points since Week 4 of 2016. Click for more from the Saginaw News and see highlights below from WJRT.
— ABC12WJRT (@ABC12WJRT) September 29, 2018
Also of note: North Branch 37, Richmond 0 This was the Broncos’ best win in … well, at least this decade and perhaps longer. North Branch (5-1) is on a major comeback after going 1-8 a year ago, and in its first season in the Blue Water Area Conference suddenly sits in second place after winning big against one of the yearly favorites.
Remember this one: Flint Hamady 34, Goodrich 28 These teams are leading separate divisions of the Genesee Area Conference, but beating the Martians (4-2) will help Hamady (6-0) down the road. Six of the Hawks’ opponents are Class C, but Goodrich is Class B and provides a nice playoff point boost.
More shoutouts: Lapeer 42, Grand Blanc 10 With this win over the third-place Bobcats (4-2), Lapeer (6-0) guaranteed its Week 9 game against co-leader Davison will guarantee one of those teams at least a share of the Saginaw Valley League Blue title. Swartz Creek 49, Linden 28 The Dragons’ now-squashed losing streak against Linden (3-3) stretched 12 seasons to when the former joined the Flint Metro League in 2006. Swartz Creek (5-1) can earn its first playoff berth since 2012 next week and remains undefeated in league play.
HEADLINER: Belleville 29, Dearborn Fordson 26 The Tigers (6-0) went ahead for good in the fourth quarter and held on through a late Fordson drive to move into first place alone in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East – and take an upper hand at the statewide level as both stand to be Division 1 contenders when the playoff field is selected in three weeks. The Tractors (5-1) have lost only to Belleville over the last two regular seasons. Click for more from MLive-Detroit and see highlights below from State Champs Sports Network.
— STATE CHAMPS! (@statechampsnet) October 1, 2018
Also of note: Detroit Loyola 20, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 17 Loyola (4-2) sits atop the Detroit Catholic League AA standings by a half game with one more league win than Detroit U-D Jesuit, this week’s opponent. The Cranes fell to 4-2 with their losses by a combined 10 points.
Remember this one: Detroit Osborn 12, Detroit Western International 6 The Knights, after going only 1-8 a year ago, clinched a share of the Detroit Public School League Gold title. Western (4-2), however, remains in position to secure its second straight playoff berth after making the postseason a year ago for the first time.
More shoutouts: Detroit Community 30, Detroit University Prep Science & Math 8 Community won an outright division title in the Michigan Metro Athletic Conference, and also clinched the first playoff berth in the program's eight varsity seasons. Grosse Ile 33, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 14 The Red Devils (6-0) face both second-place teams in the Huron League over the next two weeks and need to beat one to clinch a share of the title. But that opportunity started with getting past the Falcons (4-2), who beat Grosse Ile 20-7 a year ago. Gibraltar Carlson 47, Allen Park 29 The Marauders (5-1), after finishing second in the Downriver League a year ago, are tied for first after beating the only team, Allen Park (4-2), that has beaten co-leader Brownstown Woodhaven (which defeated Carlson in Week 1).
HEADLINER: Mount Pleasant 40, Midland 20 The Oilers (6-0) moved into a first-place tie with only Midland Dow in the SVL Red by sending Midland (3-3) into third place. All three teams still have three league games to play, but Mount Pleasant has guaranteed its best record and first playoff berth since 2015. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.
Mt. Pleasant remeans undefeated with a big win over Midlandhttps://t.co/JdMutANJgi
— ABC12WJRT (@ABC12WJRT) September 29, 2018
Also of note: Haslett 33, St. Johns 14 These two and Williamston are tied for first place in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red. The Vikings (5-1) finish with winless Lansing Eastern, while St. Johns (3-3) faces a challenge this week from Fowlerville and Williamston gets Mason.
Remember this one: Dansville 40, Fowler 9 It’s hard to get credit in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference when two-time reigning Division 7 champion Pewamo-Westphalia is dominating the headlines. But the Aggies (5-1) are tied for first heading into this week’s game with the Pirates and after going 3-6 a year ago. And Fowler (4-2) has equaled its win total from last season with three more games to play.
More shoutouts: Mason 19, Fowlerville 15 The Bulldogs (3-3) have rebounded from 2-7 a year ago and are a combined nine points from being 5-1 and tied for first in the CAAC Red as well. Olivet 56, Vermontville Maple Valley 8 The Eagles quietly are off to a second straight 6-0 start (and with a win over Ottawa-Kent Conference Silver leader Hopkins) heading into this week’s Greater Lansing Activities Conference title decider against reigning champion Lake Odessa Lakewood.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER: Maple City Glen Lake 23, Elk Rapids 15 The Lakers (3-3) opened 0-2 and took a third tough defeat to Gladstone two weeks ago, but rallied to claim a share of the Northern Michigan Football League Leaders championship. Elk Rapids (4-2) and Frankfort are tied for second with a game to play for all three. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle and check out highlights below from MI Sports Now.
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) September 29, 2018
Also of note: Lake City 27, Leroy Pine River 0 The Trojans (6-0) clinched a share of a second straight Highland Conference title by downing an improved Pine River team that fell to 4-2 but would’ve created a three-way tie for first with a win.
Remember this one: Traverse City West 19, Flint Carman-Ainsworth 13 Although a non-league win for Big North Conference leader West (4-2), it should be a key playoff confidence builder as the Cavaliers have played much better than their 3-3 record.
More shoutouts: Manistee 39, Riverview Gabriel Richard 6 A week after clinching a share of the Lakes 8 Conference, Manistee (6-0) won big against the Catholic League Intersectional l-leading Pioneers (3-3). Oscoda 50, Tawas 15 Defeating rival Tawas (3-2) is always a plus, and the Owls (5-1) extended their winning streak to five with their fourth game of 50 or more points this fall.
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER: Jackson 39, Ypsilanti Lincoln 14 The Vikings (6-0) pulled a major step closer to earning their first league title since 1942, downing the second-place Railsplitters (4-2). Jackson finishes its league schedule against back-to-back opponents with 2-4 records. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot and see highlights below from JTV.
Ypsilanti Lincoln vs. Jackson High School Football Video Highlights https://t.co/wvn7JR7HkQ
— JTV Sports (@JTV_Sports) October 1, 2018
Also of note: Grass Lake 14, Michigan Center 10 A year after Michigan Center and Napoleon shared the Cascades Conference title, Grass Lake (6-0) and Napoleon are tied for first with two league games to play and the Cardinals (5-1) now trailing by one win. Grass Lake and Napoleon play this week.
Remember this one: Hillsdale 37, Blissfield 27 The final three games are going to be just as difficult, but getting past the Royals (4-2) put the Hornets (6-0) in first alone in the Lenawee County Athletic Association.
More shoutouts: Pittsford 28, Athens 6 This win combined with Lenawee Christian’s loss gave the Wildcats (6-0) a share of the Southern Central Athletic Association title and dropped Athens (3-2) out of contention. Parma Western 30, Battle Creek Pennfield 13 The Panthers (5-1) moved into a second-place tie in the Interstate 8 Activities Conference by knocking Pennfield (4-2) out of a tie for first.
HEADLINER: Kalamazoo Central 26, Battle Creek Central 20 (OT) Meeting 115 between these century-old rivals was a classic and earned the Maroon Giants (4-2) a share of the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East title. The Bearcats (4-2) came back from two scores down after three quarters, but Kalamazoo Central made a last stand in overtime. The teams were a combined 5-13 just a year ago. Click for more from the Battle Creek Enquirer and see below for highlights from FOX 17.
Game of the Week: Kalamazoo Central vs. Battle Creek Central https://t.co/G80q8ogWy4
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 29, 2018
Also of note: St. Joseph 13, Portage Central 6 Despite a Week 4 loss to Stevensville Lakeshore, St. Joseph is back in the SMAC West hunt thanks to a second-straight win over formerly first place Portage Central (4-2).
Remember this one: Centreville 20, Mendon 0 The Bulldogs (6-0) had been outscored by Mendon (3-3) a combined 145-0 over the last three seasons, but sit atop the Southwest 10 Conference thanks to this win.
More shoutouts Climax-Scotts 62, Adrian Lenawee Christian 20 In its only home game this season and last as an 11-player team (C-S is switching to 8-player next season), the Panthers shook up the SCAA standings and kept their playoff hopes alive. Schoolcraft 63, Constantine 27 The Eagles (5-1) stayed tied for first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley with a big win keyed by an MHSAA-record nine rushing touchdowns from junior Kobe Clark.
HEADLINER: Ishpeming 44, Gwinn 8 The Hematites (6-0) set up a likely league-deciding matchup this week with Iron River West Iron County with a big win over former Western Peninsula Athletic Conference small-school co-leader Gwinn. The Modeltowners (4-2) still could figure into the race with a Week 8 meeting against West Iron also coming up. Click for more from ABC10.
Friday Night Frenzy highlights and scores 9/28/18 - https://t.co/rC5yxTEDid
— ABC 10 UP Sports (@ABC10UPSports) September 29, 2018
Also of note: Marquette 21, Kingsford 20 The Redmen (3-3) have climbed back from an 0-2 start to move into first place alone in the Great Northern Conference. Kingsford (2-4) must win out for a chance at an at-large playoff bid.
Remember this one: Escanaba 20, Menominee 12 The Eskymos (4-2) made it two in a row over the Maroons (1-5), and also formerly ended Menominee’s chances at making the playoffs for a 23rd straight season.
More shoutouts: Calumet 24, Iron Mountain 0 The Copper Kings (6-0) haven’t allowed a point in two weeks and have given up only 32 total – and Iron Mountain (4-2) was averaging 30 per game entering the night. Sault Ste. Marie 14, Gladstone 7 The Blue Devils (4-2) won their third game this season by seven points or fewer – and their four wins are as many as the last two seasons combined.
HEADLINER: Grand Rapids Christian 21, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 14 The Eagles avenged last season’s four-point loss to the Trojans (5-1) by knocking them out of a tie for first place in the O-K Gold. Grand Rapids Christian (5-1) continues to share the top spot with East Grand Rapids. Click for more from FOX 17.
Blitz Battle: Grand Rapids Christian vs. Thornapple Kellogg https://t.co/u3yf7srI48
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 29, 2018
Also of note: Grand Rapids West Catholic 38, Spring Lake 21 The Falcons (3-3) aren’t done yet. With their playoff hopes on the line, reigning Division 5 champion West Catholic handed Spring Lake (5-1) its first loss – and moved into a tie for first in the O-K Blue.
Remember this one: Wyoming Godwin Heights 23, Wyoming Kelloggsville 14 Last season a one-point Kelloggsville win decided the O-K Silver. The Wolverines (3-3) broke a two-game losing streak to the Rockets (3-3) this time to push both into a second-place tie with Belding, one win behind leader Hopkins.
More shoutouts: East Grand Rapids 42, Grand Rapids South Christian 29 EGR (4-2) shares first in the O-K Gold and likely will be cheering for the Sailors (3-3) this week against Grand Rapids Christian. Hudsonville 16, Grandville 13 (OT) The Eagles (5-1) just held on as one of two teams undefeated in the O-K Red, breaking a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs (2-4).
HEADLINER: Pickford 59, Stephenson 8 Will anyone catch the Panthers? No team has so far, as Pickford (6-0) has outscored its opponents by a combined 327-47. This big win came against a Stephenson team that while 4-2 could still push for a league title. Click for more from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.
— MISportsNow (@MISportsNow) September 29, 2018
Also of note: Colon 51, Camden-Frontier 0 The Magi (6-0) continued to impress in their first season of 8-player, handing the Redskins (4-2) their first shutout in three seasons playing this format.
Also of note: Powers North Central 52, Crystal Falls Forest Park 28 The Jets (5-1) moved into first place alone in the Great Lakes Conference West, a win away from clinching a share of the title while Forest Park (3-3) sits tied for second.
More shoutouts: Hillman 38, Posen 34 The Tigers (5-1) continued factoring into the Midwest Central Michigan Conference East race by knocking Posen (5-1) out of a tie for first. Peck 8, Mayville 0 The Pirates (5-1) moved into first place with Deckerville in the North Central Thumb League Blue by sending Mayville (4-2) into a tie for third.
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PHOTO: Saginaw Swan Valley locks down an Alma ball carrier during Friday's win over the Panthers. 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 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.)