WALES – The Oak Hill football team know there likely won’t be an exciting pre-game speech from Caden Thompson. Or a few fiery words when the fourth trimester is about to begin.
The Raiders are happy with the way Thompson speaks, however: on the pitch, as one of the toughest runners and top tackles in Class D.
“He’s an extremely calm and gentle kid, very respectful,” said Oak Hill coach Chad Stowell. “But on the pitch, I can always say it, he has a look in his eyes. It doesn’t come out with volume, it comes out with presence. He is engaged and ready to go.
The Raiders are 3-1 and sit third in Class D, and their senior running back was a big reason why. Thompson became Oak Hill’s all-rounder, a punishing runner and, as a converted wide receiver, an asset in the passing game. He has 399 rushing yards in all four games with three touchdowns, and caught passes for 80 extra yards and one score.
“I love to hear when the coach calls my number,” said Thompson. “I wanted to go out and I wanted to prove how good I was here. I wanted to show people that I can play.
On the defensive end, as a defensive end and outside linebacker, he leads Oak Hill with 32 tackles and 3.5 sacks, and he forced three fumbles, recovered two and returned one for a touchdown.
Thompson is not loud. Its impact is.
“He’s a beast on offense and defense, a two-way street player, he always makes big plays for us,” said Oak Hill quarterback Jackson Arbor, a third-year Thompson teammate. “We call him the workaholic for a reason. He doesn’t complain, he just does his job and he does it to the best of his ability all the time.
As a freshman, Thompson was in college but was a face in the Oak Hill qualifying crowd, and he played the receiver after playing in youth football as a runner. ball. He switched to running back in second grade and played more, but felt the disadvantage of playing among the upper class.
“The second year, I felt like I had a lot more pressure on me, because I was just a second year playing in college, and I was a lot smaller,” said Thompson. “This year I would say (there is) less pressure on me. I just have to go play a game.
Two years of growth have helped. Stowell has Thompson pegged at around 6 feet tall and 235 pounds, and defenders attempting to bring him down find out for themselves. Thompson, said Stowell, is running “violently.”
“The way we run our offense, he doesn’t get a lot of head blockers because we’re trying to spread out a bit more and run into some gaps,” Stowell said. “When you do that, there are times when the defense is guessing right and they can be in the wrong gap at the wrong time for us, and that’s when Caden’s physical ability to get through someone or making a move to go through someone has been really beneficial.
Thompson said he knows that as this season approaches, he could make it harder for future tacklers.
“I got bigger and bigger and got a lot more physical which helped me a lot,” said Thompson. “I’m just trying to find the open area, and if there’s a player or two in there that I’m not going to try to run away from, I’m just going to try to go through them any way I can.”
It’s the same story in defense, where in the last game against Bucksport, Thompson attempted a tackle, snatched the ball from the Bucksport player’s hands and ran 83 yards for a touchdown, one of three more scores. 50 yards he’s had on offense and defense this season.
“He has an amazing sports IQ,” Stowell said. “You can tell he knows the game and thinks a lot about the game.… I think he uses it more in defense than in attack. I think offense is almost an instinct, that’s what it is. he always did.
Another instinct for Thompson is how to approach his teammates. A Raider player struggling with a bad game or a missed mission can expect to hear from Thompson, but he won’t hear any criticism or blame.
“I kind of play silently, but if someone gets it wrong or if someone accidentally forgets something, I’m not going to be rude about it. I like to be positive, ”said Thompson. “I like to boost my teammates. … Few players are really good with harsh criticism, it kind of takes them down.
“He’s not going to be that kind of guy who is going to stand in front of the whole team and give a very motivating speech,” Arbor said. “But if he walks up to you in a very small frame and says something, all eyes will be on him.” You’re going to listen to what he has to say, and you’re probably going to take it.
For Stowell, a first-year head coach, this is exactly the kind of leader he was hoping for.
“He’s very consistent. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Caden, ”he said. “He always sets a great example for everyone else in the program. “
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