For anyone who doesn't think Kyle Gladieux is a team player, consider that the 6-1, 185-pound Cardinal Stritch senior tailback/safety:
• Leads the Cardinals in rushing, with 869 yards and eight touchdowns in 148 attempts (5.9 average);
• Has caught three passes for 47 yards;
• Has completed 1-of-2 passes, including a 54-yarder to junior receiver Nick Fuller against Toledo Christian;
• Has recorded 78 tackles from his free safety position. Gladieux has also played linebacker and is the Cardinals' kick returner and punt returner. He also plays the "bullet" position on the punt and kickoff coverage teams.
"He is one of the leaders in tackles and is on every special team - he never comes off the field and is probably one of the best high school players I have coached in my 30-plus years as a coach," first-year Stritch coach Joe Gutilla said.
While the Cardinals' record (1-6, 1-2 Toledo Area Athletic Conference) may not reflect it, Gladieux is a big reason this year's Stritch team is bringing competitiveness and respectability back to a program that has struggled the past several years. The Cardinals have just six seniors on this year's team.
"Kyle plays with a ton of heart," said Gutilla, who has coached in Minnesota, New Hampshire and California. "He not only has the abiltiy, but he plays the game with passion. He's physically gifted. He's got good speed and he's really strong for his size. I would rank him up with there in the top five kids that I've coached in my career, and I've coached some good ones."
Gladieux is a team captain along with A.J. Zalewski and Joe Esposito.
"It's an honor," said Gladieux, who has a 3.5 GPA. "It's a big task at times, but I think I'm better for it. I've always been a leader."
Gladieux is upholding the family name at Cardinal Stritch. His father, Norm, played football at Stritch and was an All-America free safety at Defiance College.
"All my aunts and uncles went to Stritch," Gladieux said. "I'd like to send my kids there. It's a great school. You definitely have a future if you come out of it. They give you every opportunity. I can't say enough about it. The faculty is nice, and the athletic program is coming along."
Including football. Gladieux said he is certain Gutilla has the program turned in the right direction.
"He's brought attitude," Gladieux said. "The attitude about everything just changed 180 degrees. Everybody wants to be at practice, working hard. It's just how he carries himself and how he talks. We have a young team and it's just going to take time. Hard work and time. It will come along. Gutilla has us on the right track."
Gladieux, who was 38-4 and a state qualifier in wrestling last year at 152 pounds, started at free safety and, for the last four games, at running back a year ago. He said he thought he would play either linebacker or safety as a senior.
"I kind of wanted to play safety," Gladieux said. "I was there last year and I knew the spot. I've played one game at linebacker, and that was different. I like safety better. It's easier to read and I know the position better."
Gladieux said his best performance so far this season was against TAAC rival Ottawa Hills, when he scored three touchdowns and rushed for more than 190 yards to go along with 18 tackles on defense. Unfortunately, the Cardinals lost to the Green Bears 33-30.
"That was a heartbreaker," said Gladieux, who added that never coming off the field takes its toll.
"The next two or three days after a game, it's hard to get out of bed and get moving," he said. "I love being competitive whenever I can. I'd rather be on the field than on the bench. I like defense, just blasting people and going after them and not running away from them. As a tailback, I like that I have to trust my teammates and be able to work with other people. I think I'm having a good season, but I'd like to keep improving very day."
Gladieux said he "definitely" wants to attend college and either wrestle or play football at the next level.
"If the opportunity is given to me to wrestle or play football, I would definitely take it," he said. "I like them both the same. I love any competition."