CEDAR RAPIDS - With five of seven matches decided by two goals or less, the late-game stakes have been awfully high this season for the Cedar Rapids Rampage.
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TROY MILLS — Football seemed to be a natural fit for Kyler Schott.
The North Linn senior watched older brothers, Jordan and Brendan, play for the Lynx, and his uncle, Curt Richie, is the accomplished head coach at Williamsburg. He has loved the game since he served as a ball boy when his siblings were on the field.
“I was a kid on the sidelines,” Schott said. “I always got to see them with their team and how much fun they had. It made me want to be just like them.”
Schott has worked hard and meshed it with his natural ability on the field to develop into an NCAA Division I recruit. Programs like Iowa, Drake and smaller in-state schools have shown interest in the offensive guard and defensive lineman.
College football has always been a goal, even when he began playing in fourth grade on a team with fifth and sixth-graders.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Schott said. “Did I think I’d be able to go (Division) I? No, not really, but it has been a dream of mine.”
Schott has improved his stock each season. North Linn Coach Jared Collum said he has only had two freshmen start and Schott is one of them. After his sophomore year, college options began to come into focus. As a junior, NCAA Division II seemed a likely destination.
Offseason work, including his performance at lineman and strength and conditioning camps at UI, helped garner more attention.
“He had an outstanding summer,” Collum said. “He worked his tail off in the weight room to get even stronger. He had a good showing at the Iowa camps in June. I think that was a springboard.”
The gains are also a product of his work in the weight room. Schott has been a regular throwing iron around at school, routinely showing up at 6 a.m. to lift weights. He is there three times a week during the season and four in the offseason. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder benches 365 and squats 560.
“He’s a weight room junkie,” Collum said. “He lives in that thing with (Lynx strength and conditioning coach Joel) Van Etten.
“He’s in there all the time. He’s gone out of his way to put himself together and make those gains.”
Schott is a multisport athlete, placing third at heavyweight in Class 1A with a 47-1 record. He is a three-time state qualifier for the Lynx. He also is a thrower in track. He has the versatility that some recruiters favor.
“He has what I call that Iowa lineman pedigree,” Collum said. “He’s a prototypical inside lineman in D-I.”
Skill players usually dictate what gets ran, but Schott is a focal point of the Lynx offense. Last year, he played all three positions. This year, he’s remained at guard and the offense usually follows his lead.
“We kind of call plays around him,” Collum said. “If we want him to pull, we’ll pull him. If we want to trap, we’ll trap him.”
Schott said he likes defense and offense equally. He leads the Lynx (2-2) in tackles, playing everywhere from nose guard to tackle to middle linebacker. He has 21 1/2 total tackles, including six solo for loss. Schott also has a sack.
His biggest highlight of the season isn’t from a personal accomplishment. The team’s 28-6 victory over Jesup in Week 2 is his favorite moment.
“They were ranked,” said Schott. “We needed to show a bigger school what we were made of and we came in and did that.”
The biggest role he has adapted to is one of leader. In a close loss to ranked Lisbon last week Schott was found talking to a young quarterback who had just thrown an interception returned for a touchdown. The result was a game-tying drive the next North Linn possession.
“He has come a long way as a leader,” Collum said. “He has taken a leadership role with our team. That’s only going to help us going forward.”
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