WALLED LAKE — Scan over the roster, and he’d hardly be noticed. He looks like a kid who is certainly too short and too light ever to have too great of an impact on football.
But scan over the field, and he’s impossible to miss.
He’s a do-everything player who has rewritten the Walled Lake Western offensive record book while simultaneously granting opposing coaches nights of failed game planning.
“It’s pretty incredible what he’s done,” Western coach Mike Zdebski said. “For him to have the success he’s had, it’s pretty special.”
And so the story has gone for Kyle Bambard, who may be slight of frame but who is a weapon with the ball in his hands, or delivering it to others, for that matter.
“One of the best we’ve ever had here,” Zdebski added. “And we’ve had some great football players in this program.”
There’s no telling how many more times Bambard will slip the blue helmet with the block W on, if any.
Western began the 2013 state playoff taking on an 8-1 Canton High team in a game played after press time.
With a win, the Warriors have at least one battle left.
With a loss, Bambard’s career of dazzling on the gridiron would officially sit complete.
And what a career it’s been.
“Kind of indescribable, what I’ve been able to be part of,” the senior and Wixom resident said last week. “The brotherhood I’ve formed with these guys is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever known.”
He deflects all praise geared toward him, instead crediting the guys around him or the coaches on the sideline.
But his coach said what Bambard has done in four years on the varsity squad is nothing short of remarkable.
Splitting time as the starting quarterback as a sophomore, Bambard passed for a team-high 827 yards and nine touchdowns. He also rushed for 388 yards, kicked nine field goals and made 39 extra points on 41 attempts while helping guide Western to an 11-2 final record, and eventual loss in the Division 2 semifinals.
As a junior and the full-time starter, he passed for 1,701 yards and 18 touchdowns, rushed for 839 yards and five scores while chipping in another 56 points on field goals and extra points.
Western finished 9-3, falling to eventual state champ Brother Rice in the second round.
As a senior, he’s put the exclamation point on an astonishing career.
This regular season, he led Western to an 8-1 mark, passed for 1,414 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for another 1,123 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He averaged, by himself, 279 yards of offense per game.
He was perfect on 39 extra-point attempts, hit 10 field goals and was good for 37.7 yards every time he punted the ball away.
All this for a kid who stands 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 178 pounds.
“I’ve just always felt like I had to play big,” Bambard said about his success, despite of his lack of size. “I guess I never really think about how small I am. I mean, if I’m standing next to our offensive line, it’s pretty obvious, but when you have the ability to make people miss or run around them, size doesn’t really matter.”
A two-year captain, Zdebski said Bambard is as good off the field as he is on it, and he is a coachable player.
“He takes everything you say — I mean, everything you ask him to do — and he does it,” Zdebski explained. “Whatever needs to get done gets done, on and off the field. He’s a kid that helps coordinate the community service stuff we do. He helps out with fundraisers or helping getting our players to the younger schools, or the football camps for the younger kids. He does it all.”
He especially wins.
In the three-year span in which Bambard has played such a key role with the team, Western is 28-6, a streak matched only in the 1990s, when the Warriors went 42-5 over a four-year span and won the 1999 state title with a 14-0 mark.
“He’s won a lot of games for us,” Zdebski said with a laugh. “And by the time he’s done, he’ll own just about every offensive record we have.”
And when asked about the future and not seeing No. 19 at the head of the huddle, Zdebski doesn’t even want to think about it.
“It’s going to be impossible to replace a kid like Kyle,” he said. “Impossible.”
Bambard has drawn interest from colleges, although “not as many as it should be, because all they see is his size,” Zdebski explained.
The most glaring scholarship offer right now has come from the Air Force Academy, but Bambard said he hasn’t spent too much time thinking about the future just yet, knowing only, “I will play college football somewhere.”
“I’m just trying to keep this season going,” he said a few days before the Canton playoff game. “This whole experience, especially my senior year, has been such a blast. To be part of this team and do what we have, it’s been a time I’ll never forget.”
The record books won’t let him.