Quick Impact

By Mark Pickrel

Rarely is a person too big to play the game of football, but when it came time to play in junior high, Huskie linebacker Nick Duffy fit that description.

“I was too big to play football,” Duffy said of his junior high years. “I weighed too much to play.”

Fortunately for the Huskies, Duffy picked up the game as a freshman in high school and the rest is history.

The sophomore from Wheaton has filled the middle linebacker spot in only his second full season with the team.

“It’s been exciting to step in and play,” Duffy said. “I’m having a great time playing the game.”

As a backup last year, Duffy was able to observe and learn from starting linebacker Larry Williams.

“I always looked up to him,” Duffy said of Williams. “He has been a big help to me and I appreciate what he has done.”

The relationship between Duffy and Williams dates all the way back to Duffy’s sophomore year in high school, when Duffy’s Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers played Williams’ Dunbar Mighteymen. Williams’ team got the short end of the stick as they fell to the Tigers. The following year, Duffy helped lead the Tigers to a Class 6A state title and a perfect 14-0 season.

“We leave that in the past,” Williams smiled.

With Duffy starting for the first time this year, Williams has taken the sophomore under his wing.

“Nick is like a little brother to me,” Williams said. “He is eager to learn and I want to give him an opportunity to progress.”

This season, Duffy leads the team in total tackles with 100, including six for a loss. He also has two sacks, has forced and recovered a fumble, and has deflected six passes and intercepted one.

His ability to be in on every play has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches. Head coach Joe Novak is quick to point out Duffy’s improvement as a player.

“Nick is a very instinctive player,” Novak said. “He is a natural leader and he makes a lot of plays.”

But don’t think Duffy is all business.

“I like to joke around a lot,” Duffy said. “Before the game I am relaxed and smiling a lot.”

On this issue, the player and the coach do not see eye to eye.

“He doesn’t joke around me a lot,” Novak said with a grin.

But once the ball is in play, Duffy is anything but smiles.

“I want to fly around and be in on every play,” Duffy said. “I concentrate on the guy across from me and I try to think what I have to do on every play.”