Matt Michaud and Josh Edlund Form Thunder and Lightning for Crown College Storm
While tornadoes get all the headlines related to storms, the two most destructive forces that the earth produces naturally are thunder and lightning. Because they occur much more frequently, they are two of the most dominant forces (joining wind and rain), leaving destruction and disaster in their wake.
The Crown College Storm have their own duo of dominant forces that leave opposing defenders sprawled out in their wake as they head for the end zone. A tandem that bring power and speed, brains and agility. A tenacious twosome that fearlessly goes right at an opposing linebacker or jukes out an opponent’s defensive back. That duo is Matt Michaud and Josh Edlund, the destructive team behind the Storm’s running game.
The two junior running backs are an interesting juxtaposition on how two men can be so different from the guy on the field. Both are brutal backs that love the challenge of eluding a would-be tackler or pummeling over the top of a defender to reach the end zone. However, off the field these two warriors carry their love for God, their teammates and their school with them with the same kind of fervency they put into their time on the field. It is amazing to see that these are actually the same two men.
It should not be, however. While both love football and love the challenges that comes with playing running back, they both came to Crown College for the same reason – to live out their faith in Christ.
“My commitment to Christ is the most important one and that plays out in all the other aspects of my life,” Josh explains. “I can do that in football, I can do that in academics, I can do that in my character. That is the base, and once I have that commitment to Christ everything else falls into place. I want to do my best in everything for the glory of God, because He has given me the opportunity to do that.”
Matt agrees. “I wanted to go to a Christian college and Crown really gives me the opportunity to live out my faith. I wanted a place where I can represent Christ and share my faith wherever I am. I want to bring glory to God in all I do, because He is the One who gave me this talent and this opportunity.”
Both can trace their love and passion for football as some of their earliest memories. Matt always knew he wanted to play football, and his family was more than happy to accommodate his desire.
“Since I was really little I had always said that I was going to play middle linebacker in the NFL, and so when I was four-years-old I remember getting a whole suit, with shoulder pads and everything. I loved it. I have always loved football, and I started playing in the fourth grade and loved it even more. Football has always been a passion of mine and I wanted to continue that.”
Josh’s story is not much different. He followed in the sport his older brother loved and soon found himself excelling on the field as well, although his choice of position was different from that of his brothers.
“I always played running back and safety as a kid. I loved the feeling of playing running back, which is kind of interesting because I have two brothers and both of them play linebacker. I don’t know how that worked out,” he explains with a laugh.
Both grew up in Minnesota, although in quite different communities. Michaud was raised in Woodbury, a suburb of the Twin-Cities. Edlund grew up five hours west of the Twin-Cities in Crookston. Woodbury is a city of 62,000-plus that joins Minneapolis and St. Paul in forming one of the largest metropolitan communities in the country. Crookston, on the other hand, is a city of less than 10,000 people that is about 70 miles from Fargo, ND.
It would be easy to see that these two would have very little in common. The two are Minnesotans in name only, and the fact that they are competing for time at the same position could easily have been a source of friction between the two. That is not the case however. These two have grown to have a genuine love and respect for one another, and that clearly shows in their desire to see the other succeed.
“Last season I was hurt earlier in the year,” Josh explains. “Matt was just a stud. He rushed for over a thousand yards and he had 15 touchdowns. It was so awesome how he stepped up and had such a huge year.”
Josh has a lot more admiration for his teammate beyond Michaud’s play on the field. “We have a lot of fun together. It is a good relationship. We are very different, but there are a lot of similarities, and so during practice or during games we can poke fun at each other, but at the same time the end goal is the same for both of us – we just want to win.” Josh adds, “He is firmly planted in God’s Word. I would trust him with my life.”
Matt has just as much respect for Edlund. “I kind of look up to him because he’s a really great leader. He is such a great guy to talk with and we have become such good friends. We really support one another and want each other to succeed.”
The relationship works so well because there is a great deal of respect for what the other can do, but they are not afraid to have a little fun at the other’s expense. Explains Michaud of his backfield mate, “He’s a lot of fun, but really goofy. We love to pick on each other on the sideline. If one guy has more carries or is doing better you can always guarantee that the other will be making fun of him.”
To know Josh Edlund and Matt Michaud is to know two really amazing young men. They want to do well on the field, but it is clear that their desire to succeed on the gridiron is based on the team. If they are each rushing for 100-yards but the Crown College Storm are losing then there is no benefit in their eyes. They want to win because then their team is succeeding.
Both Edlund and Michaud come in at 5-10, with Michaud having a small edge in weight (210 to 205). Both are bruising backs with Edlund having the advantage of being a bit quicker. In fact, Michaud jokes that speed is not a major contributor to his game.
“I always get made fun of for my speed. I am the slow running back, so when I break off a big run I really like coming back to the sideline and kind of looking at Coach Bo (Kevin Boozikee) like, ‘Ya, what about that. I have speed.’ The long run is more satisfying so that I have some ammunition against them.”
Matt may not have the same speed of Josh, but he is a bruising, power runner who makes any opponent pay for taking him on. This season he has carried the ball 72 times, gaining 331-yards and 3 touchdowns. He has an impressive 4.6 yards per carry average based primarily on the fact that once he gets going he is a thunderous force to bring down.
Last season that was clearly on display. With Edlund suffering a PCL injury early in the season, the team leaned on Michaud to carry the load for them. He was more than up to the task. In 10 games Matt rushed for 1001 yards, second most in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) and he led the conference in touchdowns with 15. It was a truly remarkable season, and no one is happier for him than Josh.
“Because of the injury, I was not really able to get going last season, but Matt really stepped up. I was so happy to see him have the year he did. It was hard not being able to really play my best, but Matt is so talented. I was so happy to see the great season he had.”
Last season Michaud carried the load for most of the season, but a healthy Edlund has been the one shouldering the load this year. After rushing for 572 yards and 6 touchdowns last season, Josh is closing in on giving the Storm their second straight season with a 1000-yard rusher. In seven games this year he has gained 576-yards and 8 TDs on 107-carries. He is fourth in the UMAC in yards and TDs, and his 5.4 yards per carry average is fifth.
Combined the two have gained nearly 900-yards and form one of the most prolific tandems in the conference. With Edlund’s lightning speed and Michaud’s thunderous power, the two lead this offense each week and will likely go down as two of the greatest players in Storm history.
That would be quite an accolade for most players, but it is clear that personal gain is neither desired or motivates these two young men. Many boast of their commitment to the team, but it is clear that their personal achievements are their primary motivators. This is not the case for Thunder and Lightning. These two young men are motivated to achieve for their team and for the benefit of Crown College, but more importantly they do it to bring glory to God. It is that desire to serve Jesus that has shaped their views on how football is supposed to be played.
“The right way is playing it 100 percent all the time; not ever going into something half-heartedly, but giving it your all,” Michaud begins. “There is no try; there is do or do not. Don’t kind of do. If you are going to do it, do it with your all and do it for the Lord. That’s why we are on this earth to bring glory to God.”
Adds Edlund, “The right way is between the whistles. If you are doing anything to gain an advantage that isn’t between the whistles that’s not the right way. If you’re cutting corners, you’re not doing it the right way. If you’re trying to get out of things you’re not doing it the right way. It’s all about the man next to you. When you care enough about the guy next to you, to be working your butt off, to be perfect in all aspects of your game just for the man next to you, that’s when you’re doing things right. I think when you play like that you bring glory to God and serve Him.”
This season the two joined the upperclassmen of the school and both realized that as juniors there was more that was required of them. This is another one of the many exceptional pieces to these two. They are not seeking to have the attention drawn to them, but if there is a need they are more than willing to step up and deliver.
Both know that they need to take on a leadership role with the team this season and, despite the fact that neither are really vocal leaders, they are ready to step up and do so. “I am definitely a leader by example,” Edlund explains of his new duties. “I try to be the best person I can. I try to do what is right off the field as well, so I can glorify God off the field as well as on. This year I have been trying to be a bit more vocal, which isn’t how I normally am, but this year I have tried to be more vocal which I still need to work on.”
Michaud also sees the need to take on a bigger role with the team. “I am not going to be a very vocal leader. I will step up and say something when it needs to be said, but I try to lead by example. I do what I need to do. I am not looking for the spotlight, but I’ll take it if no one else is going to take it. It’s just that this is a team with a lot of great leaders, so if I don’t step up, 10 other guys will.”
The Crown College Storm enter their contest against Eureka at 3-4. This season they are looking to get above .500 for the first time since 2010. Whether they achieve that goal is not clear yet, but what is surely apparent is that when this team takes the field Saturday afternoon they will come with as powerful of a storm as the Red Devils have ever seen. Matt Michaud and Josh Edlund bring thunder and lightning, and by game’s end a lot of Eureka players are going to know that a Storm truly hit their stadium.
By Robert Pannier