A Game for Every Fan: Week 3

September 12, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This week has some of the best of everything for the Michigan high school football fan.

Two powers meet again in one of the most followed rivalry games in the state. Two neighbors face off in another that should draw an entire town. On perhaps a sadder but immediately urgent note, two more will meet again but for the final time.

See below for some of the best games to see in every corner of the state this weekend, and be sure to monitor all the scores at the MHSAA Score Center.

West Michigan

Rockford (2-0) at Muskegon (2-0)

Most seasons, this is arguably the most anticipated regular-season matchup in Michigan. And the excitement was tempered only slightly by Muskegon’s move to another division of the O-K Conference in 2012. Rockford holds a 4-2 advantage in the regular-season series since it began in 2007, but four of those games have been decided by eight or fewer points and Muskegon won last season, 21-9. The Big Reds, also last season’s Division 2 runner-up, have opened with big wins over Grand Haven and reigning Division 3 champ Grand Rapids Christian. Rockford’s slate has been similarly impressive – double-digit wins over Utica Eisenhower and Holt.

Others that caught my eye: Muskegon Mona Shores (2-0) at Caledonia (2-0), Grand Rapids West Catholic (0-2) at Grand Rapids South Christian (1-1), East Grand Rapids (2-0) at Holland West Ottawa (1-1), Ravenna (1-1) at Montague (1-1).

Bay and Thumb

Lapeer West (2-0) at Lapeer East (2-0)

These two schools will merge next fall, making this the final matchup between the rivals. West owns a 28-10 edge in the series dating to 1975, including seven wins in the teams’ last eight against each other. That said, East has bounced back from last fall’s three-win showing and outscored its first two opponents by a combined score of 51-0. West is playing this fall for a third straight playoff berth but this week for its first 3-0 start since 2009.

Others that caught my eye: Birmingham Brother Rice (2-0) at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (2-0), Essexville Garber (2-0) at Frankenmuth (1-1), Bay City Western (1-1) at Saginaw Arthur Hill (2-0), Freeland (2-0) at Saginaw Swan Valley (2-0).

Lower Up North

Traverse City Central (1-1) at Traverse City West (1-1)

The Nowak-Olson Memorial Trophy is again on the line with these rivals having split their last eight games against each other. This matchup also could go a long way toward deciding the Big North Conference champion. Central won 42-28 last season and finished undefeated in the league, while West settled for a second-place tie. Both rebounded from opening-night losses to win their first league game last week.

Others that caught my eye: Petoskey (2-0) at Cadillac (2-0), Traverse City St. Francis (1-1) at Elk Rapids (2-0), Suttons Bay (0-2) at Kingsley (1-1).

Upper Peninsula

Crystal Falls Forest Park (2-0) at Hurley, Wis. (2-0)

These two have built quite a rivalry in the Great Western Conference. At least one has won the league title over the last three seasons, and twice during that time they shared it – last season with Bessemer in a three-way split. The Trojans haven’t been tested yet, but Hurley had to fend off a challenge last week from Lake Linden-Hubbell in an eventual 30-20 win.

Others that caught my eye: Gwinn (1-1) at Manistique (0-2), Marquette (2-0) at Sault Ste. Marie (1-1), Powers North Central (2-0) at Lake Linden Hubbell (1-1), Kingsford (2-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (0-2).

Southwest and Border

Kalamazoo Central (2-0) at Portage Northern (2-0)

The Maroon Giants are back in some conversations they’ve missed out on the last few seasons thanks to their first 2-0 start since 2008 that could become their first 3-0 kickoff since 2004 – also the last season Kalamazoo Central made the playoffs. Portage Northern has beaten the Giants in eight straight, however, including 48-0 last season.

Others that caught my eye: Saugatuck (2-0) at Decatur (2-0), Plainwell (2-0) at Dowagiac (2-0), Portage Central (2-0) at Mattawan (1-1), Stevensville Lakeshore (2-0) at St. Joseph (2-0).

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (2-0) at Utica Eisenhower (1-1)

Chippewa Valley also has made its way back into the spotlight with its first 2-0 start since 2006 that’s included wins against regular playoff qualifiers Romeo and Dearborn. The good news for the Big Reds is they beat Eisenhower by two touchdowns in 2012 – which has be a confidence builder heading into a rematch with a rival that lost to a powerful Rockford team on opening night and is expected to be in Macomb Area Conference Red mix again.

Others that caught my eye: Warren Woods Tower (2-0) at Madison Heights Madison (2-0), Oak Park (2-0) at Rochester Adams (1-1), Harper Woods Chandler Park (2-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (1-1), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (2-0) at Clinton (2-0).

Mid-Michigan

Grand Ledge (0-2) at Lansing Sexton (2-0)

The surging Big Reds have made this game the no-brainer best in this area this week. Sexton has opened with solid wins over Chelsea and Monroe, and the smallest school in the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue now takes on the second-largest school in the entire Lansing area. Keep in mind the Comets’ start didn’t come against slouches; East Kentwood and Holland West Ottawa are among the strongest programs on the west side of the state. But Grand Ledge has to feel some urgency heading into a competitive league schedule.

Others that caught my eye: Fowlerville (1-1) at DeWitt (2-0), Portland (2-0) at Lansing Catholic (0-2), Haslett (1-1) at St. Johns (1-1), Charlotte (2-0) at Eaton Rapids (1-1).

PHOTO: Flint Carman-Ainsworth (blue helmets) handled a solid Saginaw Heritage team last week, but gets another challenge this weekend in Birmingham Brother Rice. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)

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.)