WC’s Thompson is first county player with 3,000 passing and 2,000 rushing yards

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 9, 2018

Antonio Thompson transferred to Warren Central last winter, he says, because he wanted to challenge himself and see what he was capable of.

He had no idea it would be quite this challenging.

Thompson fought through a knee injury in spring practice, a position battle in the summer and early part of the season, and a steep learning curve to become Warren Central’s starting quarterback. At the end, the senior is exactly where he wanted to be — leading his team into a game for the highest stakes in high school football.

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Thompson will be behind center on Friday night when the Vikings (5-5) travel to take on Horn Lake (11-0) in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

“I just wanted to see where I was. Class 6A, Region 2 is the best of the best. I just had to do what I knew I could do,” Thompson said. “It’s been great. Even though I moved a couple of times it was all for something bigger. My last stop being over here, I just hope we can make it to the state championship.”

Thompson started his high school career at Vicksburg High, but transferred to St. Aloysius before his sophomore year and became a star. He was St. Al’s starting quarterback in 2016 and 2017 and narrowly missed a pair of 1,000/1,000-yard seasons. He passed for more than 1,000 yards both years, and ran for 923 yards in 2016 and 1,073 in 2017.

Those two seasons, as well as his stats this year, allowed him to earn a unique place in Warren County football history. This season he became the first player in county history to total 3,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in a career. He also needs four more rushing touchdowns to become the first player with 30 rushing TDs and 30 passing TDs.

“That’s cool. I didn’t even know that. That’s mind-blowing,” Thompson said with a smile.

Thompson’s stats have taken a dip this year in Warren Central’s more diversified offense. He’s thrown for 735 yards and seven touchdowns, and run for only 386 yards and four TDs. He said he’s just fine with that.

“I haven’t had to pull everybody else’s weight along with mine. Everybody over here does their job, I do my job, and we try to do it as a team,” Thompson said. “It’s been pretty easy, honestly. It feels better that I don’t have to take the load on myself all the time. I can just do me. And everybody does their me. And we all do it as a team.”

As impressive as what Thompson has done statistically is the way he has navigated a difficult path to becoming one of the focal points of Warren Central’s offense.

Thompson already had a steep learning curve in learning a new system before his senior year. It got even steeper when he injured his knee and sat out most of spring practice.

He shared playing time with junior Shane Lewis through the summer and early part of the season, then became the unquestioned starter when Lewis tore his ACL against Neville on Sept. 7.

“It was pretty hard. I had to learn the offense and work on my knee at the same time. The coaches and the players helped me through it, so it was all good,” Thompson said. “After Shane went down, I just knew it was go time. We had one quarterback behind me, but he was a junior. I had to take that role.”

And indeed he has. Thompson had either a touchdown pass or a rushing TD in six of Warren Central’s last seven games. The one he missed was last week’s finale against Provine, when he sat out the fourth quarter after the Vikings built a big lead in their 34-13 victory.

“He’s pretty mentally tough. He didn’t have the start that he wanted, but he’s gotten better. He’s hung in there. The kids have rallied around him. I don’t think that would be the case if he wasn’t such a good leader and they didn’t see day in and day out the work that he puts in,” Warren Central coach Josh Morgan said. “We really felt about the Clinton week was when he really started to get a grasp on our offense and all the options that come with it and how to truly run it.”

Morgan said Thompson’s experience and leadership, as much as his physical talents, have helped push the Vikings into the playoffs. They won three of their last four — including last week’s must-win game against Provine when Thompson played on a sprained ankle — to earn the No. 4 seed in Region 2-6A and this week’s trip to Horn Lake.

“He’s been a great leader for us. He’s worked extremely hard. He got in here and really earned the other guys’ respect and friendship,” Morgan said. “He got banged up a little bit in the spring, and then watching him go through summer workouts and not using it as an excuse really earned the kids’ trust and respect. I’m sure glad we got him.”

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The Mississippi High School Activities Association has made playoff tickets to all high school football games available for advance purchase online, through a partnership with digital ticketing agency GoFan.
Tickets for all MHSAA playoff games are $8 and available at GoFan.co. Tickets for Warren Central’s first-round Class 6A game at Horn Lake are at gofan.co/app/events/41634 and can be purchased on mibile devices.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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