Living in the moment
College football is a legitimate possibility for Lakeview High football senior Cody Thompson. At 6-2, 305, the offensive and defensive lineman fits the mold of a prototypical college player.
However, while the future certainly looks promising, Thompson isn’t quite ready to move on. It wasn’t until recently when he truly discovered his love for football.
Where many players with his ability might be looking ahead, Thompson is beginning to stop and take in everything that comes with a senior year and one final football season a little more.
“I didn’t really like football all that much growing up. It was kind of weird for me since my dad was a huge football star at Albion,” Thompson said Wednesday after practice. “I played all through midget football and I had talent, but I wasn’t really in love with it. I am now for sure.”
Thompson’s latest opportunity to express his love for the game comes Friday at Homecoming.
Lakeview hosts Scotus Central Catholic in a Class C-1 District 4 matchup on Friday night. Scotus, at 3-3, is coming off its own Homecoming victory over No. 6Wahoo Neumann that improved its record to 2-2 in the district.
Once 1-3, the Shamrocks are suddenly back in the hunt for the playoffs.
The Vikings, once 4-0, have lost back-to-back games to the same Neumann team in Wahoo then at home last week to No. 1 Pierce.
Although Pierce was a non-district game, Lakeview’s 0-1 district record puts it in a precarious position with suddenly hot Scotus on Friday and a remaining schedule that includes No. 3 Wahoo.
“We’re staying positive and we’re looking to win this Friday, dominate the next few weeks and get in the playoffs,” Thompson said. “We still have an opportunity, and we’re looking to seize that opportunity.”
Thompson will have a major impact on the outcome of that opportunity.
His size is unlike anything Scotus, or most C-1 teams, for that matter, can match. Inconsistent play up front through the first month of the season was a contributing factor to the Shamrocks losing three straight.
Thompson has the potential to cause similar problems and disrupt what Scotus wants to accomplish on both sides of the ball.
“I know I’ll be important for the O-line and D-line, O-line especially, clearing holes for our backs to run through. We have talented backs and good quarterbacks,” he said. “I know I’ll be important to make some plays, and do what I can to make stops defensively.”
Thompson reached his current height as a freshman. He was also 265 that year making his future as a playmaker up front clear from the beginning.
Ever since he was a boy he’s always been just a little bigger than everyone else. While it has earned him accolades and attention on the field, it can be a bother off the field.
He rarely purchases the cleats he wants because they’re often not available in his size. This summer when he was in Branson, Missouri; and he and a friend were browsing through the stores, most of the clothes that caught his eye were too small.
He says he doesn’t eat unhealthy, but doesn’t exactly eat healthy either. Thompson spends enough time in the weight room to bulk up to his current size but would like to be smaller.
Not only would a few less pounds make him more fleet of foot on the grid iron, he’ll have to drop at least 20 pounds to make weight for wrestling season just weeks away.
While it sounds like a lot, Thompson welcomes the challenge.
“I like the grind. I enjoy it,” he said. “If I’m not doing anything and I’m lazy…you’re just not as positive when you get lazy.”
His work ethic is a result of hours spent in the weight room with dad in junior high. Starting in seventh grade, Cody and father Josh began to build a special relationship while pumping iron.
It started because Thompson says he was beginning to get a little “pudgy.”
Dad encouraged some workouts together, and it was always fun to be associated with the strongest guy in the room.
“It built a lot of chemistry between us. We learned we could do it together. He built me and I built myself. We got up every morning together, ate breakfast together every morning and we’d get together again every afternoon, even after practice,” Thompson said. “It’s a way to get stuff off your mind. We built a bond together. It’s not a normal bond lifting father and son.
“He was the toughest guy in the room. It kind of made me want to be the toughest guy in any room that I was in. That’s not always the case, but most of the time it is.”
Yet, despite his ability to get bigger and stronger, Thompson had yet to discover that love for the game. It began to manifest this season as Thompson recognized he was going through a lot of lasts – his last offseason as a Viking, his last first game of the season, his last Homecoming game.
Lasts have had more of a profound effect on Thompson ever since he let a chance at state wrestling slip away as a sophomore.
“Sophomore year wrestling I gave zero effort at districts. I never thought about state, but I should have. It was a really low point in my sports life,” Thompson said.
“It taught me not to give up. Even Bishop Neumann taught me a few weeks ago, too. We didn’t give up, but there’s always more in the tank.”
The tank will have to be full on Friday.
A loss puts Lakeview at 0-2 in district play and two games back of Neumann, Scotus and Wahoo with only two games remaining. With the Vikings currently 13th in the latest Wild Card Points standings, and Scotus in 14th, a loss also risks dropping out of the top 16 and putting the playoffs in jeopardy.
With the season almost certainly on the line, Thompson plans to do everything he can to avoid another last.
As he began to discover his love this summer, this specific game was the one that immediately came to mind.
“I don’t think I’m in the moment right now, but during the summer it was all I could think about was this game right here,” Thompson said. “It’ll probably set in on Friday that this is the last time I’m playing the crosstown rival and I need to do my best.”