There are not many nights where a secondary can say the number of completed passes against them and the number of interceptions for them are the same. But that was the case for Stanhope Elmore during Friday’s 12-7 win over Benjamin Russell and safety Jeremy Thompson was right in the middle of it for the Mustangs.
Thompson, who had one of the interceptions, finished with four tackles including one for a loss as the Mustangs grabbed a victory in the Class 6A Region 3 opener. Thompson is the Elmore County Player of the Week.
“First thing, he’s just an awesome person and an awesome leader,” Stanhope coach Brian Bradford said. “He’s the heartbeat of the team. We go as he goes. He’s our energy guy, our motivator and one of the hardest workers on our team. He’s our everything.”
Stanhope’s secondary allowed just three completions all night, giving up 61 yards and a touchdown through the air. Thompson said he was still thinking about what he could have done differently on the touchdown pass but he admitted it felt good for his guys to have that good of a game in the back.
“I can tell them where they need to be and how they need to do their jobs and they just perfect it,” Thompson said. “Those are my guys. They play hard so it’s hard not to like them.”
Thompson’s interception cut off a Benjamin Russell drive near the end of the first half to keep the Mustangs in front at the break. DJ McGhee and Quentarius Edwards also added interceptions in the second half.
“That’s an amazing feeling,” Thompson said. “Getting an interception myself is always good but seeing everybody else get one too, it just showed how hard we work together as a team. For everyone to come together and do their jobs to make plays, that’s amazing. We have to keep that up every game now.”
Although they did not turn into much on the offensive side for the Mustangs, Bradford said the turnovers were crucial to keeping momentum in Stanhope’s favor. He credited Thompson with playing a key role in all three interceptions.
“He’s our quarterback back there,” Bradford said. “He calls all of the coverages and gets everyone in the right position. He makes all of the checks when they come out in formation. It’s like having a coach out on the field. He’s the smartest player on defense.”
While Thompson is the quarterback of the defense, he was also the emergency quarterback for the offense when Andrew Rines momentarily went out with an injury. Thompson took only one snap but he tried to make the most of it before returning to the sideline to focus on defense.
“He even took a snap at quarterback for us on Friday night,” Bradford said. “He ran about 45 yards and only gained about three yards. He just took it and ran it to the left, broke some tackles and ran all the way back to the right for a few yards.”
Thompson said he knew he needed to step up last week after the 42-0 loss to Prattville in Week 1. The Mustangs were hurting but they needed to bounce back as the hunt for a playoff spot began and Thompson helped lead the way.
“We just wanted to come back strong in region,” Thompson said. “The loss to Prattville was tough for us because it was so much of a rivalry but we knew this game counted more so we knew we had to pull this one out.”