Schulz makes move on La Crosse line
Kyle Schulz will play his final organized football game Saturday afternoon at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater.
The UW-La Crosse senior will be sad when the game ends, but it will give him more time to spend pursuing his career.
The Evansville High graduate wants to follow in his father Dale’s footsteps and become a teacher. Playing for four-plus seasons and being a starter for 27 straight games in three of those seasons at La Crosse has put his free time at a minimum.
Besides hours football takes with practice, film sessions and meetings, Schulz has class work along with student-teaching responsibilities at a La Crosse middle school. Schulz is majoring in education with a minor in mathematics.
And when the season ends for the Eagles on Saturday afternoon, Schulz will have played every spot in the offensive line during his career.
“That’s one of many great stories about Kyle,” La Crosse coach Larry Terry said Wednesday night. “He’s willing to pitch in where ever he is needed.”
Schulz’s versatility has made him valuable for the Eagles.
As a freshman, he played guard and fullback and was on the kick-return team.
He started his sophomore season at center, before he suffered a kneecap injury in an early-season game. Schulz wondered if he would ever play again.
“It was a very scary time,” Schulz told the La Crosse Tribune. “I looked at the doctor, and he said you’ve got about a 50-50 chance (of full recovery). He’d done it with one other athlete, and it worked successfully. I said I love the game so much that I’m willing to try. Luckily, it worked out great.”
He was granted a medical redshirt and came back the next season and started at left guard, where he played all year.
Schulz started his junior season at left guard, but also played left tackle. He earned second-team All-WIAC honors.
His final season has been a series of moves. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior started at left guard, but a series of injuries to offensive linemen made his stay there a short one.
Schulz has started two games at right tackle, and started last week’s game against UW-Eau Claire at right guard when three freshmen started in the place of three injured seniors. Schulz won’t know where he’ll play against the Warhawks until the health status of the other linemen is determined.
He will close out his career starting at least once at all five line spots, along with playing some fullback and on the kickoff return team his freshman year.
Schulz has missed several practices this season due to his student teaching responsibilities.
“There have been times where he maybe has made it to one practice a week,” Terry said. “One time we moved him to right tackle, and he didn’t practice there until the walk-through on Friday. But he played there on Saturday, even though he hadn’t taken one live repetition there all week.”
With the offensive line in disarray much of the season for the 3-6 Eagles, it would have been easy for Schulz to get down during his final football season. Terry admires the way Schulz has handled it.
“He’s been so good,” Terry said. “He takes it all in stride. He’s such a role model for our young linemen.”
Kyle’s father, Dale, is a fourth-grade teacher in Brooklyn—which is in the Oregon School District—and serves as the Evansville High’s strength and conditioning coach. Kyle has grown up lifting weights, and he has been a leader in the La Crosse weight room.
“It’s really remarkable what’s he’s done,” Terry said. “Sometimes with his teaching responsibilities, he had to hustle just to get out to practice. I’m very happy to have had him.”
Another area graduate who has helped the Eagles this season is Tony Bilderback.
The 6-3, 195-pound freshman out of Whitewater High has played in the past three games and caught a touchdown pass in each of those contests. He has five catches for 78 yards.
“He’s going to be special,” said Terry. “He probably should have been in sooner. That’s just one of our deepest positions.”
Terry, who is retiring from the La Crosse job after 11 seasons, said the next head coach will appreciate having Bilderback on the team.
“He has a fabulous frame to play with,” Terry said. “He has so much upside.”