WILL THOMPSONwon't be pigeonholed. Scouts know him as one of the nation's top high schoolplayers, a bruising 6'1", 230-pound linebacker-running back who last yearhelped Saint Peter's Prep of Jersey City win its first Group 4 nonpublic statechampionship since 1994. But Thompson chafes at such a narrow description."Sometimes people see you're a football player and think it's your onlygift," says the 16-year-old senior who has sung in the school choir, willcompete with the chess club and has starred in school plays. "Well, I won'thave that. My goal is to try everything."
So far Thompson'sability on the football field has served him best. After he had 68 tackles and8 1/2 sacks last season, colleges clamored for his services. "He's builtlow to the ground, and he's tough to take down," says one scout ofThompson, who can bench-press 305 pounds. "He's pure power," says RichHansen, coach of No. 16 St. Peter's, which improved to 2-0 last Saturday with a71-6 win over Memorial of West New York, N.J. Thompson has committed to play atBoston College next year. The son of Bill, a review analyst at Federal HomeLoan Bank, and Edna, an administrator for J.P. Morgan Chase, Will chose BCbecause of "its academic reputation. And it's a great football programthat's close to home." ("It didn't hurt that, like St. Peter's, it is aJesuit school," says Edna.)
Thompson got intoacting in the spring of eighth grade as a favor to his sister, Louisa, now ajunior at Dartmouth. "She went to a girls' high school [Holy Family, inBayonne], and it needed guys for parts in Once on This Island," he says."She said I could leave after the audition if I didn't like it. A weeklater the director called to say I had one of the leads."
Thompson enjoyedbeing onstage so much he auditioned a year later for St. Peter's production ofDamn Yankees. He landed the lead and began doing his version of two-a-days:"I would head to Damn Yankees after classes. Then I would hop the lightrail and head to Holy Family, where I played a gay choreographer in Smile,"he says. "How many football players would do that?" Thompson averagedsix hours a day rehearsing the two plays. His grades suffered, and his parentsand guidance counselor, Jim Dondero, stepped in. Dondero tutored him and helpedhim set aside several hours a day for studies.
September 24, 2006
Thompson nowmaintains a B average and limits himself to one or two activities at a time. Hehas already been told by BC coach Tom O'Brien that he will redshirt nextseason, but he hasn't decided if he'll pursue theater in college. "I'll goeasy on the extracurriculars freshman year," he says. "But after that,who knows? The stage-and the bright lights-are always there."
The 100th edition of the M&M border war-pittinginterstate rivals Marinette (Wis.) and Menominee (Mich.)-was no contest. TheMenominee Maroons (4-0), led by tailback Ethan Shaver (right), routed theMarinette Marines (0-4) 39-7 last Saturday at the latter's Higley Stadium. TheMaroons have won six straight in the series, which dates to 1894, but Marinetteleads 49-44-7.
TIGERS' EARLY STRIKE
The only thing quicker than Tommy Mason-Griffin'sfirst step is his decision making. The 5'10" 185-pounder from Houston'sJames Madison High-one of the top point guards in the country-orally committedto LSU Sept. 11. But he's only a sophomore, so the earliest Mason-Griffin(left) can officially sign is November 2008.
In Southlake, Texas, Carroll High has turned schoolpride into profit-"approximately $200,000 annually," according to JulieThannum, the district's director of communication. The fifth-ranked Dragonshave appeared on national TV three times since 2004, and demand for Carrollparaphernalia led boosters to start a website. Naming rights for the team'sstadium and practice facility are also for sale.
Senior Ahmad Paige of Sterlington High in Monroe,La.-the nation's No. 14-ranked wide receiver-orally committed to Florida Stateon Sept. 7 but left open the possibility he'll run a reverse. Paige will makeofficial visits to LSU, Miami, Tennessee and USC.
Who were the movers and shakers across the countrythis week? Check out RISE's football Top 25, and track the top 10 teams in eachregion, at SI.com/highschool.