The St. Charles East football team set off for Macomb last week intending to return better for the experience on and off the field.
East's on-field progression might be better measured next month when the Saints open their season, but new coach Bryce Farquhar is already convinced the bonding component of the trip to Western Illinois University's team camp took hold.
"I think when we left [Macomb], we're a lot closer group than before we left," Farquhar said.
East football traveled to Western Illinois – Farquhar's alma mater – for a three-day camp that concluded Saturday.
While there were competitions against some of the other 11 teams at the camp, Farquhar said the intensive time for instruction and heart-to-hearts among the 50 players who made the trip was most worthwhile.
"For us, it was the opportunity to go out and work with the kids three straight days on football and kind of focus them in on the upcoming season and just really get in the mindset on that football season coming up," Farquhar said.
Members of the Western Illinois coaching staff were available to give input to coaches and players, and Farquhar said having college coaches able to watch some of the Saints' top players could also be beneficial from a recruiting standpoint.
Farquhar said the dormitory where East bunked was at the opposite end of campus from where he lived when he attended WIU, but Farquhar is more interested in making new memories this fall than reliving old ones.
The late stages of summer have been bustling for the new coach and his team. Farquhar's full coaching staff is finally in place, team captains will be named later this week and East is gearing up for its final 7-on-7 of the summer today against West Chicago.
West Chicago also is under the leadership of a first-year coach, former St. Charles East coach Ted Monken, whose tenure at East briefly overlapped with Farquhar's early days as an East assistant.
The Saints and Wildcats are scheduled to close the regular season against one another but Farquhar said that is barely on his radar for today's competition.
"You make so many adjustments from Week 1 to Week 9, we're not worried about taking notes for Week 9 when we go there," Farquhar said. "We're going to get better and really worry about what we need to do to get better before we worry about scouting other people."
Official preseason practice begins Aug. 11. Farquhar's first game as Saints coach is scheduled for Aug. 29 against visiting South Elgin.