ST. CHARLES – Nick Edlund has seen the joys of football now from multiple perspectives.
He played. Now he's a coach.
Edlund grew up playing football at St. Charles' Haines Middle School and St. Charles North, and later at Aurora Christian when his family relocated from St. Charles to North Aurora to shorten his father's daily commute to Hammond, Ind.
Now Edlund is back home, giving back to the game that has given him so much as the St. Charles East varsity running backs coach under coach Bryce Farquhar.
"I think from a coaching standpoint, there's the stigma that you think you're going to be teaching the kids about how to be more passionate about football [and] how to be more successful in life. That's definitely true," Edlund began.
"But, from the opposite perspective, it's easy to see – especially with it being my first year of coaching – that you can learn just as much, if not more, from the players than they will ever learn from you."
After AC, Edlund played collegiately at Lake Forest College for two seasons. In 16 games, he ran for 574 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The two years prior to that, Edlund played at Knox College. His college transfer coincided with a major change, from chemistry to business.
Settled back into his hometown roots, the one-time North Star has now become a Saint.
Edlund has provided a noticeable boost to the East running backs. Cole Conn, who ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns last week against Carmel has experienced it first-hand.
"[Edlund] has really been focusing on having us drop our shoulder whenever we make a cut,” Conn said after the Carmel win.
"We started off from basics when he got here," Conn said in a later interview Sept. 9. "We went through proper ways to cut and juke. We also worked a lot on ball security. That is one of the biggest things he harped on. This past week, we really worked downfield vision and cutback lanes."
Edlund says working with the group of East running backs "has been a very memorable and rewarding experience so far."
"We've learned to develop a professional, working relationship while also being able to have fun at the same time," Edlund said. "I'm very thankful for the kids' attitudes as well as their consistent efforts."
Burlington getting a boost from Thompson at WR
Luke Thompson didn't even play football until his sophomore year.
"Nothing," said Thompson, a Burlington Central senior, "other than the backyard."
Thompson primarily played baseball growing up. A close friend, Central linebacker Hunter Hodgson, wanted him to try out.
"I told Hunter if he [went] to one day of baseball tryouts, I'll play football," Thompson said. "I didn't think he'd do it, and he shows up at baseball tryouts."
Thompson stayed true to his word. He's now developed into one of Burlington's more reliable targets.
A two-year varsity player and senior, Thompson caught eight passes for 19 yards in the loss against Crystal Lake South last week. The mark served as a career high for catches in one game.
"It boosted my confidence knowing I wasn't dropping passes and [quarterback] Mark [Ganziano] was always looking my way," Thompson said. "They were short routes, and I was getting hit right away by Crystal Lake, but i was really happy I wasn't dropping them."
Thompson is also close friends with Ganziano, factoring into his recent success.
"If he's looking for a dump-off route, he's going to look my way," Thompson said.
Thompson hopes to build on his performance looking ahead to McHenry this week.
"I'm hoping to have more of an impact [and] more yards," Thompson said.
"I think we match up pretty well," Thompson continued. "I think the slot receivers this week are going to have a big week."