A Game for Every Fan: Week 5

September 25, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The MHSAA football season nearly stretches over four full months from the first practices until the final championship game ends at Ford Field in November.

But the regular season seems to fly by; just like that, we’re already halfway through and today a month away from the selection of this fall’s playoff divisions and brackets.

One team – two-time reigning Division 7 champion Ishpeming – can earn the first playoff berth of this fall with a win tonight and because it is playing only eight games during the regular season. 

Read on for more of the most significant match-ups this weekend across the state.

West Michigan

Muskegon Oakridge (3-1) at Ravenna (4-0)

After three straight MHSAA Semifinal appearances from 2008-10, Ravenna fell back to the pack the last three seasons – finishing 4-5 each of the last two, even despite outscoring its opponents by 62 points in 2013. But the Bulldogs already have equaled that win total and can take another giant step back against Oakridge, a favorite in the West Michigan Conference that lost only on opening night to reigning Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic.

Others that caught my eye: Fruitport (2-2) at Muskegon Catholic Central (4-0), Rockford (4-0) at Caledonia (2-2), Grand Rapids South Christian (2-2) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (2-2), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (4-0) at Ada Forest Hills Eastern (2-2).

Bay and Thumb

Richmond (4-0) at Almont (4-0)

The Blue Devils are back on the march in the Blue Water Area Conference after finishing the league schedule perfect in 2013. Only seven points kept Almont from that accomplishment instead, and the Raiders are surely raring for this rematch after falling 42-35 to Richmond a year ago and finishing second in the conference. Almont opened this fall with three shutouts before giving up six points last week to Capac.

Others that caught my eye: Burton Atherton (3-1) at Flint Hamady (4-0), Goodrich (3-1) at Montrose (4-0), Midland Dow (4-0) at Flint Powers Catholic (3-1), Flint Kearsley (2-2) at Fenton (4-0).

Southwest and Border

Plainwell (3-1) at Vicksburg (4-0)

Vicksburg will look to keep its best start since 2010 going in this Wolverine B Conference East opener that could end up deciding the league champion. Plainwell was the league runner-up last season to Paw Paw, which this fall moved to the Wolverine B West, and has beaten Vicksburg in three straight including 26-3 a year ago. Plainwell fell to Edwardsburg by two last week, but Vicksburg has beaten the Eddies and Paw Paw over the last two weeks, respectively.

Others that caught my eye: Edwardsburg (3-1) at Paw Paw (3-1), Stevensville Lakeshore (4-0) at Battle Creek Lakeview (2-1), Battle Creek Harper Creek (2-2) at Battle Creek Pennfield (1-3), Lawton (2-2) at Decatur (4-0).

Greater Detroit

Clarkston (4-0) at Oxford (4-0)

Clarkston is tied with three others for the highest playoff point average in Michigan as it seeks to repeat as MHSAA Division 1 champion. But first up is Oakland Activities Association Red play and a quest for a fourth straight league title – although new to the league this season is Oxford, which fell to the Wolves by a mere 30-27 in last season’s Division 1 playoff opener.

Others that caught my eye: Detroit Catholic Central (2-2) at Birmingham Brother Rice (4-0), Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (4-0) at Carleton Airport (3-1), Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1) at Southfield (3-1), Orchard Lake St. Mary's (4-0) at Warren DeLaSalle (3-1).

Lower Up North

Traverse City St. Francis (3-1) at Boyne City (4-0)

St. Francis is back in a league – the first-year Northern Michigan Football Conference – for the first time since 2011, and draws its toughest opponent so far in Boyne City. The Ramblers finished Lake Michigan Conference runners-up to Grayling the last two seasons after St. Francis left that conference for football. All three teams are in the Leaders division this season, but Boyne City is the only Michigan team to not yet give up a point – it’s outscored its first four opponents by a combined 166-0.

Others that caught my eye: Traverse City Central (3-1) at Gaylord (4-0), Mancelona (3-1) at Indian River Inland Lakes (3-1), Manistee (3-1) at McBain (2-2), Lincoln Alcona (3-1) at Whittemore-Prescott (4-0).

Mid-Michigan

Hanover-Horton (4-0) at Manchester (3-1)

Hanover-Horton is quickly advancing a turnaround after finishing 4-5 a year ago and a combined 14-31 over the last five seasons. The Comets already have avenged 2013 losses to Addison and Michigan Center over the last two weeks and now get Manchester, last season’s Cascades Conference co-champion and owner of six straight playoff berths.

Others that caught my eye: Fowler (4-0) at Dansville (3-1), Haslett (2-2) at DeWitt (4-0), Homer (4-0) at Jonesville (3-1), Newaygo (3-1) at Stanton Central Montcalm (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Marquette (3-1) at Gladstone (3-1)

The road to Gladstone’s first playoff berth since 2008 doesn’t get any easier after last week’s loss to reigning MHSAA Division 5 runner-up Menominee. Marquette put 63 points on Gladstone in 2013 – although the Braves defense has been impressive holding its other three opponents this fall to 19 or fewer points.

Others that caught my eye: Iron Mountain (2-2) at Ishpeming Westwood (3-1), Menominee (4-0) at Kingsford (2-2), Maple City Glen Lake (2-1) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (3-1), Hurley, Wis. (4-1) at Bessemer (3-1)

8-Player

Posen (2-2) at Bellaire (4-0)

Bellaire on paper has looked more dominant during the season’s first half, outscoring three opponents 137-32 (the fourth win came as a forfeit). But the Eagles won’t look past Posen after falling to the Vikings 62-14 last season, a defeat that started a 1-4 skid to finish 2013. Posen’s two losses this season were to powerful Cedarville and Rapid River during the first two weeks.

Others that caught my eye: Waldron (3-1) at Webberville (3-1), Burr Oak (2-2) at Portland St. Patrick (4-0).

PHOTO: DeWitt defeated Lansing Waverly last week 56-12 and has won 30 straight league games dating to 2008.  (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.)