There’s no doubt that Kendall Thompson has put in a lot of
work during the spring and summer to get ready for his senior season beyond. It
shows in Thompson’s lean, athletic frame and as a result of his new look the
Carthage standout is moving around field from his linebacker position as good
as he ever has and he’s ready to dominate this fall.
Last summer at the 7-on-7 State Tournament, Thompson
played like a Division I linebacker prospect but he didn’t necessarily have the
kind of look that would blow people away getting off of the bus. Now the
6-foot-3, 225-pounder has lost a considerable amount of body fat and as a
result, his body has caught up to his skill set.
Thompson said this spring he worked as hard as he ever
has not necessarily with the intent of trimming down, but needless to say he’s
happy with the results.
“I’ve been working out hard,” Thompson said. “I’ve really
focused on lifting a lot of weights and stretching to work on my flexibility. I
feel like I’ve worked really hard lately.”
The hard work showed when Thompson stepped on the field
with his Carthage teammates over the weekend in College Station. Thompson moved
around the field effortlessly showing fluid hips and quick feet in pass
coverage and not only was Thompson able to shut down the middle of the field,
but his closing speed and range allowed him to make plays near the sideline during
Carthage’s six games in the tournament.
The Bulldogs don’t run a true spread offense and rely on
a balanced offensive attack, which during the regular season features Thompson’s
soft hands at the tight end position. Last year Carthage advanced to the
championship game of the consolation bracket and while they made it to the
championship bracket this time around, they were eliminated in the second round
of bracket play by eventual semifinalist Lovejoy.
Carthage is now accustomed to 7-on-7 success and Thompson
said that the deep run in last year’s event helped the Bulldogs in their run to
the Class 3A Division II state championship and he feels like that will be the
case again this year.
“It helps the offenses’ timing, obviously,” Thompson
said. “I think the thing it really helps us with is our footwork.”
Thompson said the 7-on-7 play also helps the defensive
mentality. The Bulldogs’ have been one of the state’s top defensive units operating
out of their Tampa-2 scheme over the past two seasons, but Thompson said he and
his teammates focused more on effort than execution at the state tournament.
He said the name of the game was hustle and he feels like
the goal was accomplished.
“We just try and go hard every play of every game,”
Thompson said. “We told ourselves that every day we’re down here we’re going to
Going hard has helped Carthage go 30-2 over the past two
seasons with two-straight state titles in that span. The Bulldogs went 16-0
last season and defeated a Graham team led by Texas freshman quarterback Case
The year before, led by All-State running back Dwight
Smith, the Bulldogs went 14-2 en route to a state championship where they
defeated Celina in the final high school football game ever played at Texas
Needless to say the Bulldogs have faced many challenges
over the past two years and even with Thompson and superstar 2012 recruit
Edward Pope things won’t get easier in 2010. The UIL’s biennial realignment
moved Carthage into a district with reigning Class 3A Division I state champion
Gilmer and teams will be gunning for the Bulldogs as usual.
Thompson said that he and his teammates don’t feel any
added pressure and simply plan on going out and doing what they’ve always done.
“It’s more of a deal like we’ve been there before,”
Thompson said. “I think we’re going to do better than we’ve done the past two
While Thompson, an ESPN four-star prospect, is a part of
a special Texas recruiting class but before he gets to Austin he’ll take the
field for one more season with a special Carthage senior class. This group of
seniors isn’t accustomed to losing and Thompson believes the Bulldogs have what
it takes to pull a three-peat.
“Our whole class is together and we really want to finish
strong,” Thompson said. “As class we haven’t lost a game since the seventh grade
and we want to keep that going.” It remains to be seen if the Bulldogs will win another
state title, but don’t expect Thompson to stop working hard in an effort to
make it happen.