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Mission Viejo High's Tre Madden has football in his blood

The hard-hitting linebacker was born into a football family and has speed, athleticism and versatility. Madden sometimes plays quarterback, with the Diablos using a formation that gives him the option of passing or running.

August 30, 2010|Eric Sondheimer

One of Tre Madden's earliest football memories occurred years ago when he was living in Denison, Texas, and racing downfield as part of a kickoff unit.

"We were playing the Cowboys," the Mission Viejo High linebacker recalled. "I ran and just knocked this kid out. And my family was jumping up and down."

He was 5 years old at the time.

Which means not much has changed over the last 12 years. Madden continues to hit and knock down players, and his family is still cheering.

His grandfather, Lawrence McCutcheon, played running back for the Los Angeles Rams. His uncle, Daylon McCutcheon, played defensive back at USC. His father, Curtis, played at Kansas State.

"I was born into a football family," Madden said.

At 6 feet 1, 215 pounds, with speed, athleticism and versatility, Madden is someone who finds a way to make an impact in a football game.

"I've been coaching a long time," Mission Viejo Coach Bob Johnson said, "and he's one of those guys who is very special. He's bigger, stronger and faster than most guys. He'll run you down; he can cover the pass. He's a big hitter."

And he's so athletic that he occasionally gets to play quarterback, with the Diablos using a "Madden formation" that gives him the option of passing or running. He was five for seven throwing last season and also ran for 222 yards.

"People keep guessing run or pass," Madden said. "It's definitely fun. You never know what you're doing. You get to do everything."

Madden was so effective in his limited opportunities playing quarterback that he could receive increased duties this season. But make no mistake about it, first and foremost he's a linebacker. He relishes every opportunity he gets to make a tackle or influence a play.

"Read and react," he said. "You have to be tough and know what you're doing out there. You can't be a crazed horse. You have to be thoughtful of every move you make."

But when it comes to being aggressive and letting opponents know he's on the field, Madden is happy to send a message.

"Definitely hitting people; that's what I love to do," he said. "That's why I play the game."

Whether serving as a team leader or setting an example off the field with his work ethic, Madden embraces his roles with vigor and maturity.

He has committed to USC, and his uncle Daylon, now a La Puente Bishop Amat assistant coach, said, "We're proud of him."

He added, though: "I don't know if he could tackle me."

Those are fighting words in the McCutcheon-Madden family.

Madden moved to Southern California from Texas after he was 7, so he has California and Texas football in his blood.

"I remember going to high school games, and the whole city was shut down," he said of his experience in Texas. "They lived football."

Madden was chosen last spring to visit the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, receive mentoring from Hall of Famer Ron Yary and learn more about what leadership means.

Madden already has picked up an education through football.

"It teaches you about life — working with other people, being a leader," he said. "And I just love the game."

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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