West Bloomfield senior – Football
The Lakers’ quarterback led his team 80 yards over the final two minutes of Friday’s Regional Final against previously-undefeated Utica Eisenhower, completing 6 of 7 passes during the drive before running in the go-ahead score with 51 seconds to play as West Bloomfield clinched its first MHSAA Semifinal berth with a 28-25 win – clinching Veasley the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Total on Friday, Veasley connected on 23 of 37 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores. This season he has completed 200 of 337 passes for 3,208 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only eight interceptions, and run for 455 yards (averaging 4.2 per carry) and 14 scores. Veasley is a two-year starter at West Bloomfield and also started as a sophomore on varsity as Southfield Lathrup in 2015 before that school closed the following spring. The Lakers went 6-5 a year ago, reaching the District Finals, but started 0-2 this fall before rattling off 10 straight wins to earn Saturday’s matchup with reigning Division 1 champion Detroit Cass Tech at Troy Athens High School.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Veasley called baseball his first love – he played first base and pitched last spring and said he throws 85 mph – but he is expecting to enroll early this winter at Bowling Green, where he’ll continue his football and academic careers. Veasley carries a 3.1 grade-point average and is considering studying business management, although he’s still solidifying his academic plans. For now, he has more high school history to help make; West Bloomfield also had never won a District football title before two weeks ago, but is aiming to finish this month with its first MHSAA Finals championship.
Coach Ron Bellamy said: “Bryce is one of the best leaders I have ever been around. What makes Veasley an exceptional leader is his ability to impact his teammates and coaches. He is very passionate about football, and making everyone step their game up a notch has been a strength of his. Veasley is a hard worker who challenges himself to be better every day. He is extremely coachable and usually doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Bryce is one of the main reasons why West Bloomfield has been able to make this amazing run.”
Performance Point: “It was just a great team win for us,” Veasley said of the Regional title victory. “It started off with the defense – they made a great stop on about the 10-yard line giving us the ball, and from there I knew I had to take it upon myself, with my O-line first, to get the ball into my receivers’ hands. … I live for that moment all the time. It was a great feeling. To be honest, every week we work on the 2-minute drill. I give it to the coaches; they prepare us well. We were prepared to go down the field and score.”
Making history, making memories: “We get recognized all the time, by the community, the alumni, the teachers and the students that go here. Everybody’s excited. … The memories, I think they will be just cherished, be just something I remember for my life. It’s more just the guys. We’re all going to keep in communication with each other. It will be memorable.”
Slow start: “We learned a lot (at 0-2). At first, it was just we knew we had to just finish games. That was one. And we just had to make sure when we come out we are ready to play. A lot of it was focus and competition.”
QB1: “I think it starts off with wanting to go out there and just win. That’s me. The other things (are) knowing coverages, knowing what defenses are trying to do, knowing what you’re trying to do as an offense to the defense, having a strong arm and being able to sometimes just know the matchups and be able to get the ball to your best player.”
Ford Field focus: “First off, it starts with preparation. I think the coaches are going to make sure (Saturday) is not just another game, but at the same time it is. We just have to come out and be ready to execute our gameplan and compete.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2017-18 honorees:
November 9, Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read
PHOTOS: (Top) West Bloomfield quarterback Bryce Veasley celebrates a touchdown Week 1 against Walled Lake Western. (Middle) Veasley enjoys a moment with teammates on the sideline. (Top photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers, middle photo by HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)