Drive for Detroit: Week 9 Preview

October 19, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Maybe because it still feels like summer some days downstate, but it seems like we’ve gotten to Week 9 of the football season more quickly this fall.

So let’s get right into it. Playoff fields will be announced at 7 p.m. Sunday on FOX Sports Detroit PLUS. But there is still much to be decided. There are 80 automatic playoff bids still available in 11-player – this observer’s guess is that 55 will be filled by weekend’s conclusion – and a handful of league titles remain up for grabs.

Our “Drive for Detroit” preview below might look like it’s not hitting on some of the best games in your area this weekend, but that’s by design – today’s report, powered by MI Student Aid, is focused on those final league-deciding battles, some key rivalries, but for the most part picks out games that could have the most bearing on who continues on into next week.

There were 20 games statewide Thursday, and those results like all this weekend can be found on the MHSAA Score Center. Click to monitor records and playoff points for all 614 football teams in Michigan this weekend as the field of 288 continues to take its final shape. Click for more information on the “Sunday Selection Show” and a list of games that will be broadcast live tonight on

Bay & Thumb

Clare (7-1) at Beaverton (8-0), Friday

This has been Beaverton’s season, starting with wins over Breckenridge and Harbor Beach – the only losses for those teams as both have gone on to win league titles – and continuing through a dominant run over the first six games of the Jack Pine Conference schedule. The Beavers tonight can clinch their first league championship since 1989, but the greatest obstacle of all stands in the way. Clare also is 6-0 in the league, having lost only to still-undefeated Ithaca on opening night, and has won or shared nine of the last 10 Jack Pine titles. The winner tonight claims the whole thing.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Williamston (5-3) at Lake Fenton (7-1), Midland (7-1) at Midland Dow (7-1), Flint Carman-Ainsworth (5-3) at Lapeer (5-3), Croswell-Lexington (5-3) at Goodrich (7-1).

Greater Detroit

Detroit East English (8-0) vs. Detroit Martin Luther King (7-1) at Ford Field, Friday

This Detroit Public School League A Final might be the most important game between King and East English since East English was formed out of the former Crockett and Finney high schools in 2012. King is a regular in this league finale but usually faces Detroit Cass Tech, which instead it defeated in last week’s semifinal 17-7. After falling to East English in their first meeting ever in 2012, the Crusaders have won the last seven games between the two – including taking two from the Bulldogs in back-to-back weeks in 2016 by a combined 10 points.  

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Madison Heights Lamphere (5-3) at Madison Heights Madison (8-0), Canton (7-1) at Livonia Churchill (7-1), SATURDAY Dearborn Divine Child (7-1) vs. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard (7-1) at Ford Field, Warren DeLaSalle (6-2) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (5-3) at Ford Field.


Okemos (5-3) at East Lansing (6-2), Friday

The Trojans started this season 1-2 taking losses to Dearborn Divine Child and Grand Ledge, which are a combined 14-2. Riding a defense that has given up a combined 28 points over the last four weeks, East Lansing battled through most of the rest of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue and is headed to the playoffs for the second straight season thanks in part to three wins by five points or fewer. Okemos started 4-0 but then lost three straight before getting back on the positive side last week against Holt. This season has been a success regardless, with more wins than the last two combined, but the Chiefs would love to beat an old rival to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Saranac (5-3) at Blanchard Montabella (4-4), Ionia (4-4) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (7-1), Marshall (4-4) at Portland (7-1), St. Louis (5-3) at Breckenridge (7-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Traverse City St. Francis (8-0) at Boyne City (8-0), Friday

The matchup has become one of the best small-school games statewide each season. It’s decided the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends championship the last three years with one of the two teams then going on to at least the Division 6 Regional Finals each of those seasons. Like last year, these teams meet tonight both undefeated in league play. St. Francis handed Boyne City a 22-0 defeat in 2016 and also gave the Ramblers their only losses of 2015 – the first in Week 5 and the final in a Regional rematch. Boyne City is banking this time will look more like the three straight wins in this series from 2012-14, and the Ramblers look that caliber giving up no more than 13 points in a game so far. Then again, the Gladiators have given up 45 points total this fall and haven’t lost a regular-season game since that 2014 Boyne City loss.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Harbor Springs (4-4) at Johannesburg-Lewiston (5-3), Grayling (5-3) at Kalkaska (4-4), Evart (4-4) at Maple City Glen Lake (5-2), Oscoda (5-3) at Tawas (2-5).

Southeast & Border

Reading (7-1) at Michigan Center (7-1), Friday

The champions of the Big 8 and Cascades conferences meet in Week 9, and it’s a crowning regular-season achievement for a Reading team that had won six games combined over the last two seasons and earned its first league title since 2012. It’s a great opportunity as well for Michigan Center, which shared the Cascades title with Napoleon and Addison – the Cardinals’ first piece of a championship since sharing in 2013. To the victor tonight goes a little more pride, and also possibly enough points to earn a home playoff game.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Hudson (7-1) at Blissfied (5-3), Brooklyn Columbia Central (6-2) at Hillsdale (4-4), Milan (5-3) at Ypsilanti Lincoln (6-2), Morenci (5-3) at Petersburg-Summerfield (6-2).

Southwest Corridor

Three Rivers (7-1) at Vicksburg (6-2), Friday

Technically, the Wolverine B Conference can still finish with three teams sharing the title. It would take, in part, co-leader Edwardsburg falling to two-win Sturgis. So while that seems less likely to occur, Three Rivers faces a much tougher task to hold on to its share of the prize. The Wildcats find themselves tied for first because of a three-point win over the Eddies two weeks ago, and can keep what would be a first league title since 2009. But Three Rivers beat third-place Vicksburg by only a point last year after losing three straight to the Bulldogs. And with that slim chance at a three-way title still alive, the Wildcats are sure to see Vicksburg’s best again.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Kalamazoo United (6-2) at Schoolcraft (5-3), Paw Paw (4-4) at Dowagiac (5-3), Coloma (5-3) at Watervliet (8-0), Climax-Scotts (6-2) at Athens (5-3).

Upper Peninsula

Escanaba (7-1) at Kingsford (6-1), Friday

Escanaba won two weeks ago a game that lined up like a meeting of the two best teams in the Upper Peninsula, handing the only loss to then-undefeated Gladstone. But Kingsford has belonged in that conversation too, and tonight’s game has the same feel – and with the winner claiming the outright Great Northern Conference championship. Kingsford’s only loss was on opening night to Menasha, Wis., which has gone on to go 8-1. The Flivvers actually have been a little better against their league opponents too, scoring three more points than Escanaba and giving up 48 fewer – not to mention they have three straight losses to the Eskymos they’d love to avenge.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Gladstone (7-1) at Calumet (5-3), Bark River-Harris (4-4) at Munising (4-3), Negaunee (4-4) at Ishpeming Westwood (7-1), Menominee (5-3) at Marquette (4-4).

West Michigan

Zeeland West (6-2) at Zeeland East (8-0), Friday

This matchup between schools literally next door to each other is always one of the most anticipated on the west side of the state. But it means more again as both are undefeated in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green and with the possibility they could see each other in the playoffs at some point as well. The Chix have put up 41 or more points in every game – their most impressive offensive output this decade. West has won their last three meetings, and its two defeats this fall – to Muskegon Mona Shores and Grand Rapids West Catholic, a combined 13-3 – no doubt prepared the Dux for games of this caliber.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Grand Rapids South Christian (7-1) at East Grand Rapids (8-0), Grandville (6-2) at Holland West Ottawa (7-1), Lake City (8-0) at Morley Stanwood (7-1), Montague (8-0) at Muskegon Catholic Central (7-0).


Bay City All Saints (6-2) at Kinde-North Huron (7-1), Friday

A lot of the hype this season deservedly has gone to teams playing – and succeeding – in their first seasons of 8-player football, and All Saints is part of that group. The Cougars were 3-6 last fall in 11-player and had one winning season over their last six before making the switch. Kinde-North Huron, meanwhile, has played 8-player since 2012 – and it’s having its most successful regular season since 2007. Both are undefeated in the North Central Thumb League Stripes division, with the winner tonight taking the outright championship.

Others that caught my eye: FRIDAY Battle Creek St. Philip (5-3) at Bellevue (7-1), Stephenson (7-1) at Powers North Central (5-2), Suttons Bay (5-3) at Mesick (5-3), Webberville (5-3) at Morrice (7-1).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO: Zeeland East (yellow helmets) downed Saginaw Swan Valley on opening night and will face arguably its toughest opponent since in rival Zeeland West this weekend. (Click to see more from

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for

December 14, 2022

LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.

Southwest Corridor“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.

John GuilleanGuillean 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.”

Great anticipation

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.

Derek GriblerGribler 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 ShebestPam 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 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.)