River Rouge junior – Football
The Panthers’ multi-talented quarterback has become the state’s most-discussed emerging star from last weekend’s MHSAA 11-Player Football Finals after leading River Rouge to an arguably unexpected 30-7 win over Muskegon in the Division 3 championship game. Hrabowski ran 15 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns and completed 6-of-12 passes for 45 yards more in leading the Panthers to their first Finals title in the sport, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.”
For the season, Hrabowski ran 115 times for 1,175 yards (10.2 per carry) and 14 touchdowns and completed 78 of 108 passes for 1,045 yards and 11 scores with only two interceptions. In making its second trip to the Finals, River Rouge set a program wins record finishing 13-1 with its only loss in Week 1, by three, to eventual Division 4 champion Grand Rapids Catholic Central. The Panthers also outscored their five playoff opponents by an average score of 37-7. But the crowning achievement certainly was defeating Muskegon – the Big Reds were last season’s Division 3 runners-up and the top-ranked team entering this fall’s playoffs, and had received national recognition this fall while quarterbacked by Ohio State recruit Cameron Martinez. After the Big Reds took a 7-0 lead with a score during the final minute of the first quarter Saturday, Hrabowski scored on runs of 1, 40 and 35 yards to put the Panthers up 21-7 less than a minute into the third quarter.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound signal caller had showed his skills well all fall, but the attention likely will grow substantially after his Ford Field performance. He announced earlier this week he’d received a scholarship offer from Bowling Green, and he’ll surely be one of the most anticipated players to watch heading into next fall. Hrabowski also will play basketball for River Rouge, last season’s Division 2 runner-up in that sport, and run track next spring. He carries a 3.5 grade-point average with algebra and environmental science his favorite classes, and he enjoys building and fixing things – mechanical engineering is a field of study he’s considering after high school.
Coach Corey Parker said: “Mareyohn is a great kid, he plays the game hard, he plays the game smart, he plays the game the right way, he’s always focused and is very coachable. He’s a great leader and works hard to get the most out of his teammates. He’s hard on his offensive line on the field, yet maintains a great relationship with all of them off the field – that speaks to his character. … We were not shocked by his state championship performance at all; we knew he had a chance of having a big game if he could get through the emotional roller coaster the state championship throws at you. Mareyohn was your prototype dual threat QB at Ford Field Saturday. He ran the ball exceptionally well and completed several passes for first downs during crucial points in the game. I’m very proud of him and our QB coach, Larry Johnson. (Mareyohn) developed as the season went on and peaked at the right time.”
Performance Point: “After the game, just enjoying the moment after beating the No. 1 team in the state, and letting it soak in – the crowd, everybody was really happy. We won our first state championship in school history, so it was really big for the city, and it means a lot for everyone. It was a really big night for us, the whole team and the city.”
Taking the spotlight: “Before the game a lot of people were talking about Muskegon. A lot of people thought they were going to win. When we won the game, people started talking about River Rouge, and it put us on the map. We were looking forward to playing a game like that. We knew that the championship, that it was going to be a good team. We like playing against competition. Those big games get us hype.”
Finals formula: “To make it this far, it definitely takes teamwork, and trust, and believing in your coaches. And never giving up. It’s not easy making it to the state championship. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be consistent. Team bonding in camps, and getting to know each other and hanging out together really builds a lot of trust and believing in each other.”
Big plays, big-time player: “I was really looking forward to the opportunity. I like playing against competition. I worked as hard as I could to get to this point, and I knew I wasn’t going to give up. … I think every time I ran the ball, passed the ball, I did it like it was going to be my last. Every touchdown that I ran, I ran as hard as I could. And playing against Muskegon, it built my confidence every single time we got a big play – and that played a big role in how I played the game that night.”
More to come: “I watch (Baltimore Ravens’ QB) Lamar Jackson a lot. I like some of my game being like his a little bit. (I’m planning on) getting a little bit faster in the offseason and getting more tools for my box for next season. ... I want to show that I can pass the ball, not only run the ball, and hopefully next year will be fortunate enough to make the state championship again and win. And just keep on showing people I’m one of the best quarterbacks in Michigan.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Nov. 28: Kathryn Ackerman, Grand Haven swimming - Report
Nov. 21: Emily Van Dyke, Southfield Christian volleyball - Report
Nov. 14: Taylor Wegener, Ida volleyball - Report
Nov. 7: Carter Solomon, Plymouth cross country - Report
Oct. 31: Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24: Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country - Report
Oct. 17: Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10: Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
Oct. 3: Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report
PHOTOS: (Top) River Rouge's Mareyohn Hrabowski (5) breaks away for one of his three touchdown runs Saturday while his teammates cheer him on. (Middle) Hrabowski works to evade a defender.
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“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.
Guillean 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.”
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.
Gribler 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 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 email@example.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.)