Final-Seconds Field Goal Ends Defensive Stalemate, Delivers Gladwin's 1st Title

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

November 26, 2022

DETROIT – As Treyton Siegert warmed up with the kicking net on the Gladwin sideline late in the Division 5 Football Final on Saturday, he was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be necessary.

“I was just trying to focus on making good contact with the ball, and just hoping they would score a touchdown,” the junior kicker said. “I knew it would probably come to me.”

It did, and Siegert delivered with a 21-yard field goal from the right hash to give Gladwin a 10-7 win against Frankenmuth and its first MHSAA football title.

“It was a crazy moment,” Siegert said. “I never doubted it once we got up close enough, but it was just a crazy moment. I’m really speechless. It was awesome to have that feeling. … I wouldn’t have that opportunity without a team behind me. It was really a great moment.”

Siegert’s moment capped a defensive struggle between two unbeaten teams, each in search of a first Finals title. For Frankenmuth, it was the second trip to the Finals in three seasons. Gladwin, meanwhile, was making its first appearance in a Final, and it came just three seasons after the team went 1-8 to cap a four-year stretch during which it won seven games total.

The Flying Gs’ Lucas Mead (4) and Frankenmuth’s Will Soulliere (13) contend for a jump ball in the end zone.The 1-8 season was the first for coach Marc Jarstfer and his staff. Two players who were on the field Saturday – receiver/safety Kaden McDonald and running back/linebacker Logan Kokotovich – played on the 1-8 team as freshmen.

“The culture,” McDonald said of what changed. “The culture was a huge thing. And the brotherhood. We worked out all the time and got after it in the offseason.”

Gladwin needed every bit of that culture and brotherhood to overcome a Frankenmuth team that had been building the same thing for decades.

With the game tied at 7 midway through the fourth quarter, it was the Flying Gs who found just a little bit more. 

Senior quarterback Nick Wheeler connected with senior receiver Lucas Mead for a 43-yard gain down the sideline to put Gladwin at the Frankenmuth 28-yard line. Senior running back Earl Esiline then chipped away for 24 yards over the next five plays to set up Siegert’s game-winning field goal.

The junior soccer player left little doubt on it, too, smashing the kick through the middle of the uprights with two seconds remaining. That was only enough time for Frankenmuth to unsuccessfully attempt multiple laterals on the ensuing kickoff.

“I never doubted it for a second,” Jarstfer said of Siegert’s kick. “I was thinking of taking knees a little bit earlier to just ensure that we had that opportunity. Upstairs, on the phones, they were telling me to keep punching it and maybe we’ll break one through and we can seal the deal that way. I have a lot of trust and faith in him, and I’m glad he’s back for another year.”

The drive that set up the winning kick was a rare win for an offense in the game. It covered 74 yards, and Gladwin finished the game with 225 of total offense.

Frankenmuth, meanwhile, was held to 199 yards of offense, and 3.9 yards per play.

“Both defenses have been pretty sound all year,” Frankenmuth coach Phil Martin said. “I think both offenses probably left a little bit on the field that they would have liked to cash in on; I know we did. But again, I thought the kids played a whale of a smash-mouth football game. Small-town football in Division 5 is a lot of fun.”

Mead (4) wraps up Frankenmuth’s Hunter Bernthal (3).The first offensive breakthrough didn’t come until late in the third quarter, when Frankenmuth junior Griffin Barker scored on a 2-yard run. He was helped with a push from behind by senior Brenden Marker, who had started as his lead blocker. The Frankenmuth drive covered 90 yards, and featured a 56-yard pass from senior quarterback Aidan Hoard to junior receiver Hunter Bernthal.

Gladwin immediately responded, putting together a four-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard pass from Wheeler to McDonald.

The rare flash of offense wasn’t matched previously, nor after, until the game-winning drive.

Gladwin looked to have broken the deadlock on the first play of the second quarter, but a 55-yard touchdown run by Esiline was wiped off the board by an illegal formation penalty.

The Flying Gs did get into the red zone twice in the first half, but both trips came up empty. The first ended on downs at the Frankenmuth 16. The second ended with an incomplete pass on a fake field goal at the Frankenmuth 9.

“I just couldn’t be more thankful for the defense that I have on this team,” Hoard said. “They kept us in it the entire thing, and as the quarterback, seven points, that’s not really acceptable. We should have done a better job. The defense was what really kept us in it, and it was the main key of our team. That was our identity right there, a strong defensive team. All the way from the coaching staff to every player who played on the defensive side of the ball, I couldn’t be more proud of you guys.”

Hoard was 4 of 10 passing for 77 yards for the Eagles, while Barker led the rushing attack with 43 yards. Colin Main had nine tackles to lead Frankenmuth’s defense, while Dalton DeBeau added eight.

Wheeler had 123 yards on 7 of 15 passing, and Esiline led the Gladwin rushing attack with 67 yards. Mead had 81 yards on four catches. Esiline was the leading tackler for Gladwin with eight, while McDonald had seven.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Gladwin celebrates its first Finals championship Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) The Flying Gs’ Lucas Mead (4) and Frankenmuth’s Will Soulliere (13) contend for a jump ball in the end zone. (Below) Mead (4) wraps up Frankenmuth’s Hunter Bernthal (3). (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Lawrence's Schuman Sets Example for Well-Rounded Success

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

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 pamkzoo@aol.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.)