Prep Zone: District previews

December 16, 2011

Five undefeated teams, one that is ranked No. 1 in its division, plus another reigning MHSAA football champion are among those that will be featured in tonight's Prep Zone games streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com.

Here’s a look at this week’s Prep Zone matchups, along with links to media coverage heading into the games. All kick off at 7 tonight, and all also will be archived for on-demand viewing at MHSAA.tv.

DIVISION 4: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (10-0) at Marine City (10-0)
Make it eight straight seasons Marine City has won at least 10 games, and 12 of the last 13. The top-ranked Marines also will try to knock Notre Dame Prep out of the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. That won’t come easily. The No. 6 Fighting Irish have set a school record for wins and are enjoying their best season since 1984 – and a strong turnaround from last season’s 4-5 finish, including a 47-13 toppling of No. 7 Marysville last week. Add in the four wins from last season, and Notre Dame Prep hasn’t lost in more than a calendar year. Marine City is riding the legs of senior running back Anthony Scarcelli, who has gained for 1,363 of the team’s 3,052 rushing yards and scored 25 touchdowns on the ground. Fighting Irish quarterback Danny Durkin is a dangerous two-way threat – he was 10 for 13 passing for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 150 more yards and two more scores in the Marysville win. The key could be Notre Dame Prep's defense; it’s giving up just 7.2 points per game.

Read more in the Port Huron Times-Herald.

DIVISION 4: Grand Rapids Catholic Central (9-1) at Zeeland West (10-0)
The reigning MHSAA champion Cougars are rolling again with nine straight wins since falling to East Grand Rapids on opening night – a streak that opened with a shutout and then seven straight games giving up just seven points in each. But No. 2 Zeeland West presents arguably their toughest challenge. The Dux should have some added motivation after losing to Grand Rapids Catholic 50-42 in a 2010 District final. Quarterback Miles Morrissey is again directing the No. 4 Cougars’ high-powered passing offense, with Kevin Vicari among top targets. Zeeland West again has made its run doing exactly that – chewing up yards on the ground, as evidenced by their six rushing touchdowns (and the majority of 404 total yards) in last week’s playoff-opening win against Grand Rapids South Christian.

Read more in the Holland Sentinel and at Fox17online.

DIVISION 6: Leslie (8-2) at Grass Lake (10-0)
For these teams, it might seem like just yesterday they were sharing the field. Actually, it was only two weeks ago that Grass Lake iced a perfect regular season with a 36-28 win over the Blackhawks. Leslie was one of only three teams that gave the Warriors a challenge during that 9-0 run. The Blackhawks are being carried one last time by a group of seniors that took over after the team’s last MHSAA Finals appearance, in 2008, went 0-9 as sophomores but improved to 6-4 last fall. Senior quarterback Brendon Smith tossed the 80-yard scoring pass that beat Manchester 34-32 last week, and all-stater Kyle Bryson is his top receiver. Grass Lake does its damage on the ground, led by Frank Vuocolo and his 1,360 yards and 13 touchdowns.

DIVISION 7: Saranac (9-1) at Pewamo-Westphalia (10-0)
Pewamo-Westphalia won and Saranac was runner-up in the 10-team Central Michigan Athletic Conference, although the pseudo-championship game wasn’t nearly as close as one might’ve expected – the Pirates won 28-0. A closer game might benefit the Redskins, who have won their last four games and five overall by eight or fewer points. P-W has relied on a senior-strong group of skill players to score its most points in at least a half century, with running back Alex Thelen and quarterback Justin Thelen leading the way on that side of the ball. Saranac has continued to build this fall after last season’s historic run ended with the team’s first playoff berth since 1978. The Redskins have won three more games this fall under new coach Terry Johnson, and tonight he can lead them to their first playoff victory ever.

Read more in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.

PHOTO
Zeeland West's Brad Mesbergen will be among those trying to outrun Grand Rapids Catholic Central in tonight's District final (Photo courtesy of the Holland Sentinel.).

 

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.)