The 2015 football season was a difficult one for Josh Thompson.
The junior tight end, who spent time on the varsity as a sophomore, watched his teammates win their third straight Sierra League championship after suffering a season-ending knee injury against North Valleys in the third game of the season.
“I had just caught a pass and I went to make a cut and my knee just buckled,” Thompson said. “I completely tore the ligament.”
It was a tough time for Thompson, whose demeanor wasn’t always the best during his recovery. He wasn’t a fun guy to be around, and that was understandable.
“I was in a bad mood for a while,” he said. “It was the first time I’d had a serious injury; my first season-ending injury. I’d had some sprains, some minor injuries before.”
“He was super disappointed,” CHS head coach Blair Roman said. “He is all football. He eats, breathes and sleeps football. It just killed him not getting a chance to play.”
Thompson is back now and anxious to contribute to what he hopes is another Sierra League championship.
“My knee is a lot better; a lot stronger,” Thompson said after Wednesday’s practice. “I was nervous about re-injuring the knee, but I’m past that.”
Thompson did get held out of Thursday’s practice because of a thigh bruise.
“He’s a little rusty, but he’s working hard,” team captain Spencer Rogers said. “He is one of the vocal leaders on the team, and I think he will get back to where he was before he got hurt.”
If that happens, then Carson’s ground game won’t skip a beat. The tight end is primarily a blocker in Carson’s offensive scheme, and that’s what Thompson does best. At 190 pounds he isn’t the biggest tight end around, but he has good feet and he’s super aggressive.
“If he stays healthy we have a phenomenal blocker,” said offensive line coach Vic Castro. “I love his blocking on the offensive line. He has gotten more athletic. He looks pretty good at defensive end, too.”
”Blocking wise, Josh is as good as anybody we’ve had here at tight end,” Roman said.
Carson lost some good linemen through graduation, and Roman admitted he had thoughts about moving Thompson to guard or tackle to take advantage of his aggressiveness and athleticism.
“To be honest if we needed to pull him there he would do it no problem because he’s such a team player,” Castro said. “He wants to play tight end and he is good there. It’s hard to get a tight end to man block. He will be able to make that block when we need it.”
“The only reason I know it was discussed is what I read in the paper,” Thompson said. “Coach Roman never approached me about making the move.”
Roman said he wanted to see how Thompson recovered from the knee injury before any decisions were made.
“He is really running well,” Roman said. “I really like Josh at tight end. My preference was always to keep him at tight end.”
The only downside to the position is the tight end is a forgotten man in Carson’s passing attack.
Thompson, in fact, had the only catch last year from a tight formation. Ian Schulz had two catches against Douglas, but both of those came when Carson split him out wide. Corey Jasper filled in at tight end last season and didn’t catch a pass yet made second-team all league. Had Schulz been injury free, he could have been a weapon downfield because of his speed.
“I’d love it (if they threw to the tight ends more),” Thompson said. “I don’t want to make a deal out of it because then they might not want to throw it to me at all. I’ll hint to coach about throwing me the ball (once in a while).”
Roman said he’s not ignoring his tight ends intentionally.
“It’s not really on purpose,” Roman said. “We are taking what the defense gives us.”
And, when you can dominate on the ground like Carson does, throwing the ball isn’t needed as much.