MHS football gets boost from Lyles

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Kayden Lyles, who transferred to Middleton this summer, is the No. 1 rated high school senior in the state according to wissports.net./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s football team camp was in full swing late last month when the new kid in town made his presence immediately felt.

Highly acclaimed offensive linemen Kayden Lyles, who transferred to MHS this summer and will play his senior season with the Cardinals, watched as a teammate failed to finish a drill. Lyles, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound mountain of man, didn’t like what he saw and pulled out his own personal sheriff’s badge.

“He just told the kid, ‘Drop and give me five,’ ” Middleton offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn said of Lyles. “He’s used to winning and doing things a certain way.

“It’s hard to get a kid who’s been in our program for four years to do that kind of stuff. But Kayden’s already grabbed a leadership role and he showed it right there.”

Now, the Cardinals can’t wait to see what Lyles shows on the field.

Lyles, who’s already committed to the University of Wisconsin, is the No. 1 rated high school player in the state according to wissports.net. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Lyles had scholarship offers from virtually every national power including Michigan, Notre Dame, USC and Oklahoma before deciding to become a Badger.

Middleton’s offensive line was expected to be a strength this season, even before Lyles arrived. Now with Lyles — who transferred from Scottsdale, Ariz. And has been lining up at right guard — the Cardinals could have one of the top units in the state.

“I’m happy for our running backs,” Middleton quarterback C.J. Fermanich said with a chuckle. “I’m really psyched.”

While Lyles might be a newcomer to Middleton’s program, he’s no stranger to many of the Cardinals.

Lyles lived in Fitchburg from the age of 5 until the end of seventh grade. During that time, Lyles played youth football for Middleton.

Because Lyles has always been bigger than most of his classmates, he played up a grade with many of last year’s seniors. But some of the current Cardinals got to know him during that time, as well.

Fermanich, for example, also played up a grade and was on the same team as Lyles in youth football. Fermanich’s father, Barry, also coached both boys.

“I knew him back then, but only on the football field,” C.J. Fermanich said. “Now, I’ve gotten to know him a lot more off the field and he’s a great guy. I’m really happy he’s on our side.”

Lyles and his family moved to Arizona after he finished seventh grade. There, Lyles helped Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro High School win three consecutive state championships.

But Kayden’s father, Kevin — a tight end at UW from 1993-’96 — was transferred back to the Madison-area for work. And after narrowing his high school choices to Middleton and Madison Memorial, Kayden decided to become a Cardinal.

“It just felt right here,” said Kayden, who had a 4.1 grade point average at Scottsdale Saguaro. “I knew a lot of last year’s senior class really well, some of the older guys, and I just felt at home here.”

The addition of Lyles should be an enormous boon to the Cardinals’ running game.

Middleton, the two-time defending champions in the Big Eight Conference, have had one of the league’s most balanced offenses in recent years.

Over the last three seasons, Middleton has run the ball 60.8% of the time. The Cardinals have also been extremely balanced, and their three-year rushing totals (5,489 yards) have been comparable to their passing numbers (5,015 yards).

Pertzborn and Middleton head coach Tim Simon joked that with Lyles on board, it might be hard not to become one-dimensional.

“We like to be balanced, but he’s a pretty special player,” Simon said of Lyles. “We’ll also try not to be too right handed or left handed, but he’s a difference maker. You can’t ignore that.

“He’s a pretty athletic kid. He reminds me a lot of (former Middleton standout) Ryan Groy. Obviously, he’s going to help us a lot.”

Lyles has already turned heads in the weight room by bench pressing 315 pounds and squatting 500. He’s a devastating blocker in the run game, but his feet are nifty enough to pull from his right guard spot or keep his quarterback clean in the passing game.

“The kids already trust him,” Pertzborn said. “He just gives everybody confidence. You can tell already what a competitor he is.”

Lyles can’t wait to begin competing and hopes to make his brief time in Middleton extremely memorable.

Lyles plans to graduate after the first semester, then enroll early at the UW, where his brother, Kare’, is a freshman quarterback for the Badgers.

Lyles would like to major in either law or business at the UW. But before Lyles heads to campus, he wants to have a senior season at Middleton that he’ll never forget.

“It’s starting to hit me now that my time is coming to an end,” said Lyles, who will also play some defensive line at MHS. “I really want to make it a great year, so I’m going to be hard on the guys.

“I want to play 14 games and I’m thinking about 14 games. If we’re going to play 14 games, we can’t be cutting corners. I want to set a great example and help lead these guys, and hopefully we can have a really great year.” 

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