EL PASO, Ill. — Luke Drone is exactly where he wants to be.

“I think football provides a great opportunity to teach kids how to be a man, how to have discipline, how to have a life,” Drone said. “The game of football has so many ups and downs. Learning to deal with adversity is what we are teaching these guys.”

Football has given Drone more ups than downs. The former star quarterback at Illinois State (2002-2006) got a shot at making the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.

He played indoor football at very stops in the Arena Football League.

Then he began his coaching career, first as an assistant at his alma mater, Mount Carmel. Then at Bloomington High School.

Now Drone, 34, is in his first season as head coach at El Paso-Gridley.

“You get to create your own culture with the guys, with philosophies,” Drone said. “That’s been the exciting part.”

He’s thrilled to land his first head coaching job is in a small central Illinois community like El Paso. And his players say they are thrilled to have a a coach like Drone who has great playing credentials.

“It’s something you dream of as a little kid, to meet a NFL player, someone that played D1 as a quarterback, said senior Nash Stoller. “Right now he;s our coach. To process that every day is cool.”

Last Friday, the Titans beat Ridgeview 32-0 for their first win of the season. It as Drone’s first victory as a head coach.

“He’s got all those connections, guys he can bring in to help us be the best we can be,” said senior Hunter Armstrong. “And take us to the next level.”

Drone hopes there are many more wins on the horizon. But if his team doesn’t win much, he’s happy with his new assisgnment.

“The field, the stands, the community, the school. It’s been nothing but great,” Drone said. “They had great coaches and seasons in the past. Being able to come into this situation is a blessing for sure.”