GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – Early on in the 2023-24 football season, the Gladstone Braves are proving to once again be in the conversation for a state title contender.

The Braves are sitting at 2-0 with convincing wins over Marquette and reigning division 6 runner up, Negaunee.

“Its been kind of a weird start,” said Young. “Senior year, it doesn’t feel real. It’s been a great year, we have a great group of guys and it’s going really well.”

Reigning All-UP Dream Team Quarterback Nate Young has been as advertised.

Entering his third year under center for the Braves, Young has taken his game to another level says Gladstone Head Coach, Craig Ness.

“He’s very versatile,” said Ness. “He’s a very good athlete and you have to go back to the summer, he’s working out and I’ll drive by here and he’s working out. His mental ability for football is even better than his athletic ability. He watches film and he doesn’t just watch it to watch it, he understands what he needs to see and he grows from there. He picks his game up.”

That preparation and attention to detail has paid off for Young and has helped the Braves offense evolve during his time on the varsity level.

“I was working a lot on just gaining strength overall,” said Young. “Working on my reads and going over my form with passing and everything. I think I’ve gotten better as a defensive player, too, over the years. It’s really second nature to me now.”

“We’re able to put reads in,” said Ness. “If he sees a certain read then he’s got full ability to chance a play and actually, that touchdown pass to Casey (Alworden) was actually an audible at the line of scrimmage. He saw what he thought was man to man coverage and he took advantage and we were able to hit a big one.”

On the field, Young has shown a unique gift for playmaking while making everyone around him better.

“Not only is he making plays but he spreads the ball around,” said Ness. “There’s times where he could just keep it honestly and he doesn’t. So, he’s not only making plays but he’s keeping the team involved and he’s motivating the team to get better. It’s not a rah-rah thing, they see what he’s doing and they see the effort level and honestly they try to pick there level up to match his and that’s a good thing to have.”

“I like to lead by example,” said Young. “It really helps everyone because when you make a good play you start to encourage your teammates and everyone starts to make good plays. I like to make big plays and I like to put on a show for fans. I like to razzle-dazzle sometimes but ultimately we’re just trying to win football games. If we can look good doing it then that’s good for everybody.”

While the senior signal caller prefers to show you rather than tell you, he doesn’t lack confidence in his abilities.

“Is there anything that you can’t do on a football field?”

“No,” said Young.

There might be one thing that Young could work on according to his head coach.

“Kick a ball,” said Ness jokingly. “He loves long snapping. I hate to say that our quarterback is also our long snapper but he did not punt the ball and he did not step up and try kicking, so.”

Young has not only earned the respect from his teammates and coaches but also his opponents as well.

“I’m glad Nate Young’s a senior,” said Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson. “We’ve been seeing him for several years now. The last few year’s we’ve seen Gladstone six times, twice in the regular season and once in the postseason. Yeah, it seems like Nate’s been there forever.”

“That makes me feel really good,” said Young. “They have a really good program there and they’ve gotten the best of us. I always say that he’s the one coach that is able to defend me. He’s just an awesome coach and an awesome guy. So, I really appreciate that.”

While Young’s football resume at Gladstone is impressive, he says there’s one thing that keeps his competitive fire burning bright.

“Our ultimate goal is Ford Field and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Young. “We’re trying to get over that hump. We won our district title last year which was amazing. We’re just trying to take it to that next level now.”

Young and the rest of the Braves will be in action this Friday night when they head to Kingsford.

“Kingsford is really good,” said Young. “They got a great program. We just got to keep working and we know it’s going to be a four quarter battle so we’re prepared to grind it out.”

“Kingsford is very good,” said Ness. “They always have size coming in, their quarterback throws very well, and their defense fly’s to the ball. Honestly, it’s like looking at a mirror-image of us. We’re looking for a good game. If we come in and play our game, I like who we are and I like our chances, but definitely a very good Kingsford team.”

Kickoff for the game between the Braves and Flivvers is set for 7ET/6CT on Friday evening.