Thursday, September 13th, 2007
By Robb Hemmelgarn
Thompson leads the way in strong Parkway start
As the final spectators trickled from the stands of Stadium Park in Delphos last Friday night, the scoreboard reflected a story much deeper than simply the final score.
The Parkway Panthers just got through socking the 2005 Division V state champion St. John's Blue Jays in the mouth with a 20-0 shutout, something the Black and Gold had not accomplished since Bill Clinton's first term in office.
The significance lies in the fact that normally chatter around Rockford midway through football season revolves around what is in store for the upcoming basketball campaign. That is understandable, as the program has finished its season above .500 just twice since 1989.
In the victory, senior quarterback Jordan Thompson tossed for more than 200 yards and accounted for two of his team's touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, he smothered the Blue Jay offense with 12 tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks - a performance that helped push the Panthers to 3-0 on the young season.
Suddenly Parkway football matters around town again.
"It is so exciting for our team," commented Thompson, who last season led the Midwest Athletic Conference with 155 tackles. "Everywhere we go in town people are excited, and we really haven't had that before. We are just taking it all one game at a time and enjoying all of the good things that are coming our way."
Last fall, Thompson became just the second junior to win the MAC Defensive Player of the Year since the award's inception in 1990. While it is a distinguished honor, the soft-spoken, four-year letterwinner would rather talk up his teammates - particularly the 10 other seniors he has shared a locker room with for the past six falls.
"Our class is very tight-knit," he explained. "The other 10 guys are so talented and that helps us to work together so much better. Each part of the team is important and to win our first three games is a huge confidence builder. We just need to keep things rolling."
Internet chat rooms, news stories, and other sports-related Web pages have developed a love affair with Thompson over the past four years, which makes complete sense if you run through his resume of athletic achievements, which will likely classify him as the most decorated athlete to roam the halls of Parkway High School.
Whether it is baseball, football, or basketball, Thompson has grabbed first team All-MAC honors as well as all-district and state accolades in every sport he touches. Outstanding accomplishments of course, but Jordan would prefer to chuckle about the time last year during spirit week when he dressed up in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume - one which could have fit him in the fourth grade.
Although he looked a lot more mutant than he did ninja or turtle, it was just another testament to his realization that, although sports are first and foremost in his life, humility and fun are what complete his persona.
"I just always strive to do my best and set a good example because you never know who is looking up to you," he admitted. "I like to be relaxed and to have fun and at the same time try to be a positive role model. Life is all about enjoying it and being the best you can be."
Ironically, the more Thompson accomplishes on the athletic fields and the more attention he draws to himself by doing so, the less he wants to converse about it.
He avoids self-congratulation like Superman does kryptonite. In a day of sports headlines littered with the "me-first" attitudes of Chad Johnson, Joey Porter, and a certain former quarterback who won't be allowed at the Westminster Dog Show anytime soon, Thompson is the kind of kid whose hair you would tussle as he left with your teenage daughter for a date.
We recently strolled through Parkway High School and as we walked past the trophy cases signifying previous Panther athletic success, and I asked him if he had to trade in all of his individual awards, what he would want in return.
In anticipation, I began to pen "a state championship for my team," but I was not even close. His request offered a unique perspective.
"I would love just to have one day to hang out with my dad again and talk about anything that came to mind," he calmly explained. "I pray to him a lot, especially when I am playing sports. Before, during, and after games, I am always praying," he added with a shy smile.
When Jordan was five-years-old, Roy Thompson III, lost a quick battle to a wicked bacterial infection. The former Parkway basketball standout left behind his wife, Kay, and three little boys. Jordan and his two older brothers, Ryan and Ty, who for the past few years, have rooted their baby brother on every step of the way.
"Dad played sports here at Parkway, so I really believe he is pulling for me and has helped me through a lot of tough times. My brothers, mom, and stepfather (Al Brandt), have been with me all along. I love that, but I would give anything to just have a few moments with dad."
Where Jordan's talents land him next year is anyone's guess. He has options in any sport he chooses, but for now he only wants to focus on football.
"I don't want to take away any of the spotlight from the team and what we want to accomplish this year," he remarked. "When the time comes, I will make that decision, but for now I just want to concentrate on the next game."
Until then, Thompson will remain the MAC's best-kept secret - more so of course than his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume.
"Does anyone really have to find out about that," he questioned, as his faced grew crimson.
Unfortunately some secrets, like a seasoned quarterback, find ways of avoiding the tackle.
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