BIG SANDY -- It’s well established that Big Sandy’s Kade Strutz is one of the top running backs in Montana, regardless of classification. In Friday’s 57-6 win over Wibaux in the 6-Man playoffs, Strutz rushed 25 times for 279 yards and six touchdowns.
Like he does seemingly every week, he ran through arm tackles, dragged defenders a few extra yards after contact and was a threat to make the highlight reel every time he touched the ball.
Not many teams have been able to find the solution for slowing him down, which begs the question: How would Kade Strutz stop Kade Strutz?
“Oh boy. Definitely have to hit myself low,” laughed the senior. “Wrap up around the waist and drive them back. I run through so many arm tackles, it’s insane. So just tackle me like you’re supposed to tackle.”
His coach, Larry Jappe, would take a different approach.
“I would close my eyes and dive at his feet or something,” Jappe said. “And then pray. That’s about it.”
Kade’s brother Kody Strutz is more realistic.
“My best chance would be to square up with him, hit him low,” Kody said. “Just drive forward as hard as you can, wait for someone else to come, because you might not get him down right away,”
Kade has been terrorizing 6-Man defenses for four years. And in his senior season, he’s taken his game to another level. He averages 11 yards per carry and 150 yards and four touchdowns per game. In many games he does his work early while the Pioneers build a big lead before ceding playing time to his younger, less experience teammates.
Not to mention, he also leads the team in tackles as a linebacker and handles all kicking duties for the Pioneers.
“There’s nothing more to be said about it: It’s Kade Strutz, man,” Jappe said. “Anytime there’s anything going wrong out there, I just give the ball to Kade and he’s going to make stuff happen. And he’s going to go on defense and make our tackles for us. He’s a coach's dream, that’s what it is.”
His style of play has earned him a pretty excellent nickname from his teammates.
“They call me ‘El Toro Blanco’,” Strutz said. “That means ‘The White Bull’ in Spanish.”
But Kade is not the only Strutz making an impact for the Pioneers. Kody Strutz, a sophomore, is in his first year starting on the varsity, and he has a nickname, as well.
“We call him Gunslinger,” Kade said. “Because he’s the quarterback and he throws some really good balls”
Together with their teammates, they’ve helped the Pioneers (6-0) to an undefeated season with their sights set on bringing a 6-Man title to Big Sandy for the first time in program history.
“It’s been special for me. Last year (Kody) didn’t get to play as much as I hoped he would have, but this year he stepped up huge and it’s been so much fun playing with him,” Kade said. “He’s a great player and he keeps me at my best, and doesn’t let me make mistakes without letting me hear about it.”
Where Kade has a big body type and thrives on contact, Kody has more of a finesse game. He’s elusive in the pocket and excels at making defenders miss. Together they had a hand in every touchdown scored by the Pioneers on Friday.
“It’s been a blast. My teammates had trust in me from the beginning, they’ve been great support,” Kody said. “They run their routes hard, they block amazing and keep me safe. Kade’s been right by my side the entire time, keeping me in my zone. He’s been really helpful teaching me how to deal with the pressure and all that kind of stuff, it’s been great.”
Big Sandy will host Bridger in the second round of the 6-Man playoffs on Saturday at 1 p.m.