Trojan's talented senior rarely steps off the playing field

John Edmond gives the Northwest Cabarrus coaching staff a lot of bang for its buck, playing offense, defense and special teams.

Over his three varsity football seasons, Edmond has added more responsibility to his cache of talent each season. Besides being an all-conference strong safety, he also starts at running back and returns punts and kickoffs for the Trojans.

Starting with his recreational days, Edmond has always rewarded his coaches with his flexibility to play anywhere they needed him. He played his natural positions - linebacker, safety and running back - in his youth leagues, but things got a little interesting for him when he reached middle school.

As a seventh-grader at Northwest Cabarrus Middle, Edmond played nose guard most of the season. He couldn't match the beef that most offensive linemen had, so he learned to use his speed to get around bigger blockers.

Edmond played fullback both of his middle school seasons and was a full-time linebacker by his eighth-grade year. His current size - 5-10 and 180 pounds - tells you that playing on the defensive line was an unconventional position for him.

His father, also named John, has been an assistant to Trojans coach Rich Williams for the past three years and also served under former coach Mike Helms before the 2008 season. As a freshman junior varsity linebacker, Edmond enjoyed a fine season. A couple of his exceptional games came against North Iredell, when he recorded eight tackles and a fumble recovery, and Central Cabarrus (five tackles, forced fumble).

With few players returning at linebacker, Williams started Edmond on the weak side as a sophomore on the varsity. Edmond also played a little tailback and considered the season a valuable time to prepare for his upperclass years.

By last year, Williams decided to use Edmond's speed by placing him in the defensive backfield. Edmond admitted it took getting burned by his receiver a couple of times in the season opener against Mooresville to get him to make the appropriate adjustments to his new position.

"You have to work on pass first, then run," Edmond said about playing safety. "Linebacker is just the opposite. I had to get used to dropping back in zone, then coming up. I had to work on coverages and where to line up."

Playing more in the offensive backfield, Edmond rushed for 700 yards. As a two-way starter and the primary punt returner, the junior was chosen as the Trojans' most valuable player for the season.

"He just exemplifies the kid you want for your program," said Williams. "He is always on time for practice, always works hard. He always wants to help the team."

Though Edmond played minimally on the kickoff return team last year, his role has been increased this year. The only times he leaves the field for the Trojans is when they are punting or kicking to the opposition or when they are attempting a field goal or extra point.

"Most players you see on TV don't go both ways," said Edmond. "To go both ways, you have to have good character and a good attitude. If the coaches ask me to do anything, I just say 'yes sir.' "