Trey Thompson’s second-half interception proved a key point in Polk County’s 13-7 second-round 2018 playoff win at North Rowan. But as the final whistle sounded, defensive coordinator Jamie Thompson had no interest in offering congratulations to his junior lineman.
But Jamie Thompson, the father, did have a mission to find his oldest child.
“He got the interception and he was ecstatic about it,” recalled the elder Thompson, who spends each game coaching from inside or on top of the press box. “When the game was over, we were able to have a few special moments and I could be back in dad mode.”
There may be more such moments in 2019 as Trey Thompson completes his final season as a Wolverine.
The senior lineman is looking to build on a junior season in which he may well have been Polk County’s most improved and valuable player on defense. Thompson led the Wolverines with 98 tackles, including 25 for a loss, and also had a team-high nine sacks. Four of those sacks came as part of a 13-tackle effort against Avery. He also had both an interception and a fumble recovery, the only Wolverine to do so.
Thompson is off to a good start thus far in 2019, recording 15 tackles, with team highs in tackles for loss (eight) and sacks (two), though Polk County’s first two games.
Not one to dwell on his accomplishments, much like his father, Trey Thompson credits his junior season to an old-fashioned trait.
“I was nervous about being on varsity and starting, and that made me try harder,” he said. “I like to grind all the time to get better, and I guess that paid off.”
It’s a work ethic Thompson no doubt learned from years spent at Polk County practices watching his father, the Wolverines’ veteran defensive coordinator who also served as head coach from 2014-16. Trey has long been a familiar sight on the sidelines before ever officially putting on Wolverine blue and white.
“I would see the people (on the field) and they were such big guys, and I didn’t think I would ever be here,” Trey Thompson said. “Now I’m here.
“(Jamie Thompson) has made sure I get better and that there’s no slacking off. He’s a big part of my work ethic.”
The football grinding, though, doesn’t extend to the Thompson household; father and son say they try to leave football on the Polk County campus, though that’s not always simple – “He’s Coach Thompson here and Dad at home. Sometimes he’s Coach Thompson at home because I’m so used to it,” Trey Thompson said.
“Every once in a while we might have a hot tub discussion (about football) while we’re hanging out, but we try to keep boundaries as much as we can,” Jamie Thompson said. “I try to treat him the same as everybody else. When you’re a coach, all these guys are like your kids, like your sons, so that helps.”
As does his son, Jamie Thompson credits Trey’s hard work with his leap in productivity last season. He has high expectations for Trey for the season ahead, which no doubt also pleases Jamie Thompson the defensive coordinator.
“I think he’ll have a better year,” Jamie Thompson said. “He’s forty pounds heavier, he’s forty to fifty pounds stronger across every lift. He’s got a year of experience. He had a great year in wrestling (reaching the state tournament), so his confidence is really high.
“Trey has a tremendous work ethic. He’s a late bloomer a lot like I was. I didn’t fill out until my senior year and he’s doing the same. He’s done a lot of extra stuff on his own in the weight room. He doesn’t need me pushing him.”
The younger Thompson would love to turn his success into a college football career, but for now, he’s just focused on helping Polk County have a winning 2019 season. He’ll then set his sights on another trip to the state wrestling tournament before beginning to prepare for his final weeks at Polk County and graduation.
Jamie Thompson, meanwhile, is just enjoying one more journey through a season with his son nearby.
“It’s been one of the more special things in my life,” Jamie Thompson said. “As a coach with kids, when they’re little you don’t get to spent a lot of time with them, especially during football season.
“Since Trey got to high school, he’s here with me all the time. It’s been really special.”