St. Charles East and St. Charles North hailed a new boys lacrosse era when their former co-op program split into separate entities two seasons ago.
The move resonated with everyone then, but still there were elements that took time to appreciate.
Saints seniors Nate Campana, Tim Canning and Brandon Huff have helped form the team’s core from the beginning.
Now that their prep careers are close to the end, however, they’re realizing the magnitude of the journey.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about it that I’ve been playing with these kids for probably my whole life,” said Huff, a defender. “To come up and finally have our own East team is kind of incredible.”
East rolled to three victories at Saturday’s season-opening Battle of Burgess at Geneva, reinforcing that the team isn’t just happy to be here.
College-bound talent – midfielders Campana (Lindenwood in Missouri) and Canning (Adrian in Michigan) have committed along with Huff (Augustana) – provide the leadership with a deep class of sophomores flanking them.
Sophomores fill four starting spots for coach Chris Conner, including attackmen Jack Russell and Tyler Vogel, midfielder Evan Anderson and long-stick midfielder Austin Griffin.
Speed characterizes the group, and thus far has helped it bond, too. Confined to the St. Charles Sportsplex for most of their early-season workouts, the Saints relished the opportunity to come untracked outdoors over the weekend.
“It is across the board,” Campana said. “Between our middies, our attackmen and our defense – even our goalies show they’re not afraid to come out of the cage and run a little bit. That’s great to have a team where everyone has equal athleticism and speed.”
With former co-coach Aaron Vermedal leaving to take the same role at Naperville Central, the Saints have adopted a new offensive style that hinges on spreading the scoring between lines.
An output of 25 goals in three games Saturday offered an encouraging start. Next week, the Saints are set to test the range of their attack when they travel to Nashville, Tenn., for a spring break trip.
“It’s a time for you to really create an even stronger bond with your team,” Campana said. “You’re hanging out with them 24/7 now for one week. Really, it’s to kind of test your team under pressure. We will be going down there to play good teams. We’re not going to be going down there to waste our time.”
While other sightseeing in the Music City has yet to be finalized, the Saints plan to visit the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., on the ride home.
“We don’t really have any ties, so it’ll be the first time for many of us down there in Nashville,” Conner said.
East is accustomed to uncharted territory. At season’s end, the Saints hope to discover more of it in the IHSLA playoffs.