Senior Signing Spotlight: Isaac Thompson
Linebacker takes Red Mountain experience to Jamestown
This is No. 21 in a month-long series of profiles of Arizona high school seniors that signed with four-year colleges. Here's the full list (currently totaling 298) of players from within the state moving on to the next level.
The University of Jamestown is tucked away in the town of the same name in South Central North Dakota. It's a rural town with a population of 15,000. Of that, the college comprises 1,100 students (or a third of some 6A schools in Arizona). And yes, it's cold there. The low on Wednesday night is expected to be 10 below.
Those who follow recruiting may have noticed that Jamestown distributed some offers to players across the state this past year. The Jimmies were successful in reeling in three of those. One was Isaac Thompson.
The 5-8, 190-pound linebacker had a few other NAIA and Division III offers, but a January visit to Jamestown factored heavily in his decision to go there. Thompson also has some family in the nearby area.
"I like how close everyone was and I could tell they were headed in the right direction," Thompson said in an e-mail interview. "The coaching staff was great. They are remodeling some of the facilities and I have a family background there since my dad used to live in Jamestown."
On a Red Mountain team that went 9-3 and captured the 6A East Valley Region for the second straight year, the defense made their share of turnovers. The Mountain Lions intercepted 16 passes and recovered 17 fumbles. Thompson led the way on the statline with three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Thompson was named to the Second Team All-Region and also earned the Mountain Lion Award at the team banquet after the season.
"It represents the character, respect, selflessness, courage, and toughness that a Red Mountain player should have," Thompson said. "It was a real honor getting that award."
In an era that sees a lot of transfers and players fleeing their homes toward destination schools, Thompson started off with his local youth football team in East Mesa and then on to the freshman team at Red Mountain (where he played quarterback). Last November, several of them finished the journey together.
"It was fun playing with the same group of guys since the Pop Warner days," Thompson said. "I got to play with my best friends and there is really nothing better than that. The coaches have made my experience of playing football at Red Mountain great."
Isaac Thompson gets the third straight INTERCEPTION for the Red Mountain defense. He takes it 64 yards all the way down to the 3-yard line.— Gridiron Arizona (@gridironarizona) September 29, 2018
Thompson racked up his 62 tackles in just 10 games. He left the Mesa game in October for a trip to the hospital after dislocating his elbow. That kept him out for the Mountain Lions' first playoff game at Queen Creek. Showing that courage, he made it back three weeks later for the quarterfinals against Pinnacle.
After suffering the injury, Thompson's first reaction was anger.
"Missing the Queen Creek game made me feel sick because I wanted to be out there with my teammates," Thompson said. "But they stepped it up and came up huge when it mattered."
The Lions pulled off a dramatic 37-34 victory scoring the final touchdown with just over a minute to play on a pass from Darren Smith to Ramses Rivera (65 yards). After the win, Thompson secured a doctor appointment within a few days to get cleared for the next round.
Now fully recovered, Thompson is active on the RMHS track and field team throwing the javelin for the second year. Javelin was just introduced by the AIA in 2018. Thompson qualified for the state meet last season and is already provisionally qualified for this May's competition.
"I am learning that technique matters more than flat-out strength," Thompson said. "But most of all, patience and trusting your technique, because you aren't going to go out there and throw your best at the beginning of the season. It is about gradually increasing, so by the time state comes around, you are at your best throwing farther than you ever have."
Jamestown competes in the Great Plains Conference (NAIA). The Jimmies, 3-8 last season, hired a new head coach in January. Brian Mistro, who spent the last seven seasons as an assistant at Concordia College in Minnesota, returns to the school he graduated from in 2009. Mistro is a native of Gilbert and played defensive back and running back at Highland.