A Game for Every Fan: Week 5

September 26, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Rivalry games develop for a variety of reasons: proximity, a history of close finishes and league ties are just the obvious. And finding one of these matchups worth watching is an easy task just about every week of MHSAA football season..

But tonight and Saturrday might feature the best set of rivalry games, collectively, this state has seen during one weekend in a long time. 

All featured below are tonight unless noted. Be sure to monitor all the scores as they come in at the MHSAA Score Center.

Greater Detroit and Southeast

Birmingham Brother Rice (4-0) at Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) - Saturday

Although DCC hasn’t played a Catholic League Central game yet (it was the odd team out during last week’s openers), the Shamrocks and Warriors are the only teams in the division still undefeated overall. Both are playing for their third trips to the MHSAA Finals – Brother Rice has won back-to-back Division 2 titles, and DCC has finished runner-up the last two seasons in Division 1. But first comes this weekend; they’ve split the last four meetings, and DCC’s defense already has three shutouts this fall. 

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Loyola (4-0) at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-0), Farmington Hills Harrison (4-0) at Southfield (3-1), Melvindale (4-0) at Wyandotte Roosevelt (4-0), Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (4-0) at Clarkston (3-1).

Southwest and Border

Portage Northern (3-1) at Portage Central (4-0)

Portage Northern is coming off a heart-breaking 17-10 loss last week to St. Joseph. But the Huskies surely will bounce back quickly for this rivalry game – especially after falling to Central in last season’s playoff opener after beating the Mustangs by 29 just two weeks before. Central got its first challenge of the season last week as well, from Stevensville Lakeshore, but hasn’t scored fewer than 34 points in a game so far.

Others that caught my eye: Decatur (4-0) at Lawton (4-0), Edwardsburg (4-0) at Three Rivers (3-1), Hartford (3-1) at Watervliet (4-0), Portland St. Patrick (4-0) at Burr Oak (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Kingsford (4-0) at Menominee (4-0)

A year ago in Week 5, Kingsford beat Menominee 14-13 and then went on to win the Great Northern UP Conference title. But that’s been the norm; beginning in 1999, one of these two has won or shared the league title every season. This matchup often during that run decided which finished on top. The Maroons might have a little momentum after coming back to beat Kingsford 48-14 in a 2012 District Final.

Others that caught my eye: Negaunee (4-0) at Gwinn (2-2), Bessemer (3-1) at Hurley, Wis. (3-1), St. Ignace (3-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (2-2), Detroit Country Day (1-3) at Escanaba (1-3).

Lower Up North

Maple City Glen Lake (4-0) at Kingsley (3-1)

Glen Lake jumped into the Northwest Conference title conversation last season for the first time in a decade and earned the championship thanks in large part to a 29-7 win over Kingsley – which similarly was enjoying its finest conference run since 2005 before finishing second. The Stags no doubt would like to finish the job by winning this rematch to move into first place alone; they then finish with winless league opponents Benzie Central and Mesick.

Others that caught my eye: Traverse City St. Francis (3-1) at Boyne City (3-1), Petoskey (2-2) at Cheboygan (3-1), Bellaire (4-0) at Posen (2-2), West Branch Ogemaw Heights (3-1) at Cadillac (4-0).

West Michigan

East Grand Rapids (3-1) at Grand Rapids Christian (3-1)

Grand Rapids Christian enjoyed its best season ever last fall, winning the Division 3 championship, which coincided with East Grand Rapids’ first playoff miss since 2000. But the Pioneers are looking like themselves again, and the Eagles remain elite despite graduating a star-filled class and losing standout receiver Drake Harris for the first part of the regular season with an injury. Three of these teams' last five games against each other have come down to seven points or fewer, and this could be another classic.

Others that caught my eye: Belding (4-0) at Comstock Park (4-0), Ludington (3-1) at Fruitport (2-2), Rockford (3-1) at Holland West Ottawa (3-1), Muskegon (3-1) at Muskegon Mona Shores (4-0).

Mid-Michigan

DeWitt (4-0) at Haslett (3-1)

This once was the best rivalry in the Lansing area – until DeWitt won 10 straight (including three times in the playoffs), dating to Haslett’s last win in the series in 2005. Regardless, the Vikings have come closer than most to beating the Panthers during this latest run. And last season’s game seemed to signal a return to the grudge match, with DeWitt surviving 28-27. The Panthers are always strong offensively but have given up only 23 points this fall and have two shutouts. Haslett, meanwhile, is off to its best start since 2009.

Others that caught my eye: Holt (2-2) at East Lansing (3-1), Reading (2-2) at Homer (4-0), Coleman (4-0) at Carson City-Crystal (4-0), Jackson Northwest (2-2) at Jackson Lumen Christi (4-0).

Bay and Thumb

Midland (4-0) at Mount Pleasant (3-1)

With three wins – and only a 12-point loss to a strong DeWitt team – Mount Pleasant already has one more victory than all of last season, a rare down finish for the Oilers. Midland took advantage by breaking a three-season losing streak to Mount Pleasant and winning the Saginaw Valley Association North. As we reach the midpoint, these two have been the league’s most impressive teams so far.

Others that caught my eye: Harbor Beach (3-1) at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port (4-0), Flint Beecher (4-0) at Lake Fenton (3-1), Warren Woods Tower (3-1) at St. Clair (4-0), Yale (3-1) at Almont (3-1).

PHOTO: Midland (blue uniforms) ran past Saginaw Arthur Hill last week to remain in first place in the SVA North. (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.)