Kyle Schulte carrying on a Shrine family tradition

By Bill Foley

It is not possible for a family tradition to stretch further in the Montana East-West Shrine Game than it does with the Schulte family of Butte.

Bob Schulte played in the first Shrine Game in 1947. On Saturday, his grandson Kyle Schulte will play in the 70th at Montana Tech.

That tradition is not lost on the younger Schulte as he readies to go to battle with the West side on the Bob Green Field. His grandfather makes sure of that.

“He tells me every time I see him, ‘The first and the last,’” Kyle Schulte said. “I’m the last Schulte grandson. He’s jacked. Every time I see him he’s super excited.”

Kyle Schulte, a recent Butte Central graduate, will play inside linebacker for the West team.

Kyle’s uncles Mark (1974), Steve (1979) and Joe (1981) played in the game. Two years ago, Kyle’s older brother Conner played for the West team while his father, Pat, served as an assistant coach.

Great Falls cousins Rob Schulte (2004) and Ryan Schulte (2002) also played in the game, which is the premier all-star football game in Montana.

“It was probably number one, other than getting a college scholarship,” Kyle Schulte said of his goal to play in the Shrine Game. “I wanted to play in this for my family and for Butte.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Schulte is coming off a monster career at Butte Central. After helping lead the Maroons to the Class A State Championship Game as a junior, Schulte was named the Defensive Co-MVP of the Southwestern A as a senior.

He did that playing a brand-new position, too. After starting two seasons at inside linebacker for the Maroons, Schulte moved to defensive end as a senior to fill a need.

“The whole summer I was full-on inside linebacker,” Schulte said, referring to the summer of 2015. “Right at the Tech camp I got moved because they needed me there.”

Schulte was moved to tackle and eventually end, where he clearly excelled. But he likes his old position better, and this week he gets to go back to it.

“I get to play linebacker in this,” Schulte said. “I got moved from D end to linebacker. I’m pretty stoked about that.”

That is a position Schulte plans to play at Montana Western. He signed with the Bulldogs following his senior season, following in the footsteps of his brother Conner, who is an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs.

“I guess there’s a lot more contact and collisions inside,” Kyle Schulte said about playing the inside backer position. “I guess there’s collisions everywhere, but I like that a little better.”

Inside linebacker is where Schulte played in last month’s Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl, also known as the “Mon-Dak,” in Dickinson, North Dakota. He registered seven tackles inside as the Montana boys rolled to a lopsided victory.

Schulte also switched positions to fill a need on offense for the Maroons. He showed off his team-first attitude by agreeing to move from a fullback/tight end position — a position that saw him score two touchdowns as a junior — to play offensive tackle as a senior.

As a member of the offensive line, Schulte earned first-team all-conference honors. That move, though, forced Schulte to trade his coveted No. 23 jersey in for No. 54.

That is another area where the Shrine Game is allowing Schulte to go back to his roots.

“I get to wear 23 in the Shrine,” Schulte said, with a smile growing extra wide. “That means something to me. My uncle Steve wore 23 in high school. Whenever he talks about it he gets all excited.”

Schulte is also excited to play with such an exceptional group of athletes on the West defense.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “We’re awesome; we’re good. I can’t wait to play. We have such good chemistry and bonding. We all know each other from the Mon-Dak and from previous years.”

That chemistry and athleticism was on display Monday morning as the West defense got the upper hand on the West offense.

“Our scrimmage went really well,” Schulte said. “Our defense dominated. But it always takes longer for the offense to come together than a defense does in an all-star game.”

This all-star game also comes with a special meaning. Schulte and the rest of the starters on both sides are playing for much more than themselves. They are playing to raise money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane.

Over the last six years, the Montana game has raised more than $400,000 for the cause.

“It’s huge,” Schulte said. “The motto is ‘Strong legs run so weak legs can walk.’ They’ve been talking a lot about that. We’re playing for something bigger than the win, and that’s the Shriners Hospital. Everything is way bigger than just the game.”

Schulte will also be playing for his extended family in the crowd. That will include his grandfather, who has made nearly every Montana Shrine Games since he played in that first on in 1947.

“I’m glad we’re in Butte,” Schulte said. “I don’t want to go anywhere else. That is another big meaning for me, to have it in Butte. All of my family will be here. It’s just in Butte, you know.”