That’s how the career of Unicoi County sophomore starting quarterback Brock Thompson began last season against North Greene — and his star has not stopped rising since.
“He’s very mature,” said Unicoi County head coach Drew Rice. “He’s a pure athlete, too, having a great year on the basketball court. He’s mature beyond his years and when you watch him, it’s hard to believe that he’s just a sophomore. He’s a special talent.”
Thompson had nine starts last season after the Blue Devils had a shaky beginning to the season, losing to both South Greene and Sullivan East.
Then, the coaching staff made the decision to move junior starting quarterback Brett Strother out to wide receiver, where he would be much more versatile and more of a weapon in the explosive Unicoi offense.
This season, the Blue Devils will return the leading passer, rusher and receiver from the 2017 season. Strother is also the reigning Region 1-3A Offensive Player of the Year.
“The thing that’s crazy about Brock is that he hadn’t played football since the sixth grade before last year,” Rice said. “We knew it was very important to get him out. In fact, I went over to the middle school the November after I got the job to try to get him out on the field.”
Thankfully for Unicoi, Thompson went out the following fall and has steadily improved through spring and summer practices.
“I was pretty nerve-wracking my first couple of games,” Thompson said. “I came a long way from the beginning of the season to the end. I have to have a lot of vocal skills to be a leader and being a quarterback on this team. I feel like I know where everyone is supposed to be on every play on the field now, so that will help tremendously.”
Playing on the hardwood for the Blue Devils, Thompson was a sharpshooter from distance and had several outstanding performances toward the end of the season.
“I think basketball really helped me come out of my shell a little bit more last year,” Thompson said. “I had a lot of great leaders on that team like Trevor Hensley, Troy (Podvin) and Clay (Simpson). Being taken under by Trevor was pretty cool. He helped me a lot.”
The season in 2017 was up and down for the most part for Unicoi County, finishing 5-6 and losing 33-0 on the road to Austin-East in the playoffs. An interesting stat was that in the five wins, the Blue Devils had two turnovers. In the losses, they had 20 giveaways.
The offense is explosive and could be one of the most dangerous units in the area. With Thompson taking the snaps, the entire upperclassmen offensive line back from last year, Strother on the outside as a big play waiting to happen and Kody Lewis ready to take the handoffs, the Blue Devils will certainly be a handful for opposing defenses.
“We’re more explosive than we were last year,” Strother said. “We’ve got guys everywhere that can make plays and we’re expecting big things.”
The Blue Devils open up the season on Friday, Aug. 17 with a non-conference home game against South Greene.