TAMPA – Deon Thompson had the game of his life. His reward – he got to carry a sledgehammer with him long after the game was over.
Most experts hadn’t expected this kind of a game from Thompson, let alone a season. But it was during the recent game at Steinbrenner that Thompson erased the pain of the injuries that had stifled him during his first three years at Tampa Bay Tech. Thanks to hamstring injuries and ankle problems, Thompson had only three 100-yard rushing performances leading up to this, his senior year.
But this day, against Steinbrenner, Thompson ran in, around, and through the Steinbrenner defense for 307 yards. He also caught two touchdown passes from teammate Deon Cain on the way to a fourth-quarter rout.
At TBT, a sledgehammer is awarded to the player who worked the hardest in each game. Nobody doubted that Thompson was going “hammer time.” Fifteen minutes after the game, Thompson was laughing, and lugging that hammer around with no worries.
“This was the biggest game of my career,” Thompson said. “I had all those injuries so it had to happen for me this year.”
After another big win the following week against Plant City, Thompson had 12 touchdowns, eight rushing, in six games. He isn’t surprised and said he feels perfect.
“I have learned to trust the O-line,” Thompson said. “They’re the ones that are helping put the points on the board. Deon (Cain) has been a great quarterback.”
TBT coach Jayson Roberts, when asked by a reporter after the Steinbrenner game what he thought about Deon, he simply said, “Which one?”
When told it was about Thompson and his five touchdowns, Roberts said, “He’s over with the sledgehammer. He’s been great for us all season. This is a special team and he’s a special player, but so are the rest of the guys. This team is a special group.”
TBT hasn’t lost since its home opener against Newsome, but the Titans have been challenged only once, in a 14-7 win over perennial state power Plant.
Thompson had to give back the sledgehammer before the next game. But he has plans on getting it back.