A Game for Every Fan: Week 4

September 13, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Just like that, the MHSAA football season is one-third over. And after this weekend, teams will be cruising into the midpoint of the regular season. 

Don't let it pass you by. We're entering the thick of league races, Homecoming and rivalry games. The toughest part can be choosing which to watch. 

See below for some of the best options near you. And remember to visit the MHSAA Score Center for updated scores and standings.

(All are tonight unless noted. Go to Score Center for additional dates and kickoff times.)

Bay and Thumb

Flint Powers (3-0) at Saginaw Nouvel (3-0)

This beats out some pretty strong league matchups because of a few hard-to-match circumstances. Both are undefeated, yes. But both also are reigning MHSAA champions -- Powers won Division 5 last season and Nouvel was Division 7. Both have already survived close calls, but are surging behind solid defensive efforts -- both teams are giving up roughly 11 points per game. 

Others that caught my eye: Croswell-Lexington (3-0) at Capac (2-1), Bay City Western (3-0) at Saginaw (2-1), Marine City (2-1) at Clawson (3-0), Goodrich (3-0) at Montrose (2-1).

West Michigan

Lowell (3-0) at Muskegon (3-0)

These two have been in the conversation for best game in the state just about every week so far. That's the product of loading up tough nonleague opponents before expected championship runs through their respective conferences. Lowell is a slight favorite in the O-K White, and Muskegon is a little bit more in the O-K Black. But this game might indicate something even bigger -- the eventual frontrunner for the MHSAA Division 2 title. 

Others that caught my eye: Allendale (3-0) at Comstock Park (2-1), Hudsonville (1-2) at Grand Rapids Christian (2-1), Zeeland East (3-0) at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (3-0), Cedar Springs (3-0) at Zeeland West (2-1).

Mid-Michigan

Saginaw Swan Valley (3-0) at Alma (3-0)

Two teams kept Alma from winning the Tri-Valley Conference Central in 2011, and the Panthers are rolling after gaining vengeance on Freeland last week. They've also beaten Swan Valley in two straight, but by a combined three points. The TVC Central race has whittled down quickly, with these two and Hemlock the only three off to 2-0 starts in the league. That number will be down to at least two by the end of tonight. 

Others that caught my eye: Haslett (1-2) at DeWitt (2-1), Charlotte (2-1) at Jackson Lumen Christi (3-0), St. Johns (3-0) at Owosso (2-1), Lansing Everett (3-0) at Holt (2-1). 

Greater Detroit

Birmingham Brother Rice (2-1) at Warren DeLaSalle (2-1), Saturday

Raise your hand if you realized DeLaSalle has won three of its last four against the Warriors. Or that the teams' last eight meetings have been decided by 11 or fewer points. The reason that might surprise is Brother Rice's four trips and two wins in MHSAA Finals over the last decade -- DeLaSalle also has played in two Finals, but is seeking its first title. The winner this weekend will have the upper hand in the Detroit Catholic League Central, a great sign for another MHSAA run. 

Others that caught my eye: Oxford (2-1) at Farmington (3-0), Oak Park (3-0) at Southfield (2-1), Detroit Country Day (2-1) at Dearborn Divine Child (2-1), Monroe St. Mary Catholic (3-0) at Carleton Airport (3-0).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming (3-0) at Ishpeming Westwood (2-1)

This rivalry has been one-sided lately, with Ishpeming winning the last 15 meetings including twice in the playoffs. The Hematites ended Westwood's 2011 season and own a couple of impressive wins already this fall over Iron Mountain and Calumet. But the Patriots haven't given up a point since their Week 1 loss to Stephenson -- and appear due to tilt this series the other way. 

Others that caught my eye: Engadine (2-0) at Cedarville (3-0), Negaunee (3-0) at Iron Mountain (2-1), Gladstone (2-1) at Menominee (3-0), Iron Mountain North Dickinson (3-0) at Stephenson (2-1).

Lower Up North

Traverse City St. Francis (2-1) at Grayling (3-0)

St. Francis is the big opponent on many teams' calendars. That goes with winning six MHSAA championships. But both of these teams were ranked in the opening Associated Press polls this week. The Gladiators have won two straight since being shut out on opening night by Kingsley; Grayling is off to its third straight 3-0 start and looks like the favorite in the Lake Michigan Conference after watching last season's title fall out of grasp with a one-point loss to St. Francis in the regular-season finale. 

Others that caught my eye: Muskegon Catholic Central (1-2) at McBain (2-1), Petoskey (2-1) at Traverse City Central (2-1), Maple City Glen Lake (3-0) at Benzie Central (1-2), Boyne City (3-0) at Harbor Springs (2-1).

Southwest and Border

Portage Central (3-0) at Stevensville Lakeshore (3-0)

Four of the seven teams in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West appear capable of winning it, with these two joining St. Joseph among the 3-0 teams so far this season. Lakeshore perhaps has been the most impressive after finishing second in the league to Mattawan last season. But Portage Central already has equaled last season's win total and has won five straight going back to 2011's Week 8. 

Others that caught my eye: Paw Paw (3-0) at Allegan (1-2), Plainwell (2-1) at Otsego (3-0), St. Joseph (3-0) at Portage Northern (2-1), Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (2-1) at Sturgis (1-2).

PHOTO: Flint Powers senior receiver Zach VanAlst attempts to break a tackle in his team's game against Mount Pleasant during Week 2. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.)