Caden Kusek made the most of his one full season at linebacker for Arcadia-Loup City.

The 6-foot, 205-pound senior led Class D-1 with 196 total tackles, 108 of them unassisted.

He also had 19 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries, three interceptions and five forced fumbles.

Simply put, if a big play was being made by the Rebels’ defense, it was very likely that Kusek was in the middle of it.

For his performance, Kusek has been selected as the Independent’s All-Heartland Small School Super Squad honorary defensive captain.

“He was a playmaker on offense and defense,” Arcadia-Loup City coach Mike Scott said. “He could take over games. And he’s the most unselfish kid that you could find.”

Kusek had 100 tackles last year, but he wasn’t a full-time player on the defense. With him taking on a workhorse running back role and the Rebels deep at linebacker, it was best for the team to let him rest his legs some.

This year he shared duties as the main ballcarrier, and he certainly made a big impact with his expanded role on the defensive side of the ball.

“He’s very coachable,” Scott said. “He knows what he has to do and he’s worked hard.”

The coach said that Kusek improved on his ability to chase down receivers who catch the ball in the flat, and his expanded range played a big part in his success and large numbers.

“He’s definitely a dynamic player, and not just at linebacker,” he said. “He could cover the flat, and a lot of the time he’s not one of the 10 fastest guys on the field. But his work ethic made a difference for him.

“Any time we had a run stuffed up, Caden made it happen.”

The fact that Kusek didn’t care about his numbers – on either side of the ball – helped make him a great teammate.

“He had 1,700 yards rushing last year,” Scott said. “We didn’t need him to do that this year. But there were times when we had a play called for him, and he’d change the play to one where he’s blocking.

“With his unselfishness, he’s a pleasure to be around. He’s a great kid. I’m proud to have coached him. Everyone who comes in contact with Caden likes him.”

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