Stone Bridge Bulldogs QB, Joe Thompson (#4), blows through the hole made by Ethan Seu (#55) as he takes on Broad Run’s Meech Hembry (#2) in the 2nd Battle of the Burn of the year. (Photo Credit: © Steven Holland/Viva Loudoun)
Ashburn, VA (Friday, February 19, 2016) – The Thompson family is equivalent with royalty in Ashburn. Head Coach Mickey Thompson has been at the helm of the elite Stone Bridge football program since its inaugural season in 2000, and he has had the good fortune of coaching all three of his sons.
Patrick and Zach graduated in 2009 as esteemed Bulldogs, as they were able to bring a state championship back to Ashburn in 2007. Patrick, the quarterback of the state title team, and Zach, a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball, went on to play at Wake Forest together.
Zach’s football career is ongoing as he is a linebacker in the Baltimore Ravens organization, while Patrick returned home as an assistant under his legendary father.
The latest Thompson to come through Stone Bridge was Joe, who just wrapped up his prep journey and followed in Patrick’s footsteps by playing under center. Joe gives his father a great deal of praise for both molding a team and shaping his own career.
“He’s (Mickey) done everything for me, a lot behind the scenes, he’s always been really supportive of me,” Joe said. “He’s awesome because he knows when to needs to get on a guy and when he doesn’t, he’s smart in the way he handles players, he’s great at building relationships and bringing the unit together.”
The dual-threat quarterback prospect finished high school football on a high note by reaching the Virginia 5A state title game this past December, although the Bulldogs ultimately fell short against Highland Springs.
“It was awesome, but what made it even greater was, before the season started we were saying this was the year we were going to do it,” Joe said, “but then there was a time that it seemed so unlikely. So it was really cool to be able to come back from that 4-4 start and go on a run. I don’t know how many people believed we were going to be able to do that.”
The Bulldogs alternated win-loss the first eight games of the 2015 season to reach that 4-4 record, before rolling off back-to-back wins to close the regular season and then winning four more in the playoffs to reach the title game.
Part of the reason for the Bulldogs early inconsistency was an injury that kept Joe out of the lineup for multiple games.
“It was tough, but I learned a lot about how to be a leader and how to be supportive,” Joe said. “It really was a tough time but I never wanted to act like it was, I kept myself involved in everything I could.”
Once the Bulldogs got their leader back, they were able to win six straight before falling in the final game. Despite not bringing home the title like his brothers, Joe represented the family brand honorably, and credits his brothers with helping him along the way.
“I learned a lot from Patrick, especially with him being a quarterback and coaching this year,” Joe said, “he’s always been really good about helping me with little things that he knew about being a good leader and a good quarterback. And Zach has always been very supportive of me and my biggest fan, it’s cool having him around because of his knowledge of the game.”
According to Joe, the highlight of his high school career was the playoff victory over Massaponax on Nov. 27, a game in which the Bulldogs trailed by 20 but managed to come back and win 50-49 on a two-point conversion run by Joe, in which he dramatically dove into the corner of the end zone. Yes, he certainly carried on the Thompson tradition.
Also like his brothers, Joe will be playing at the next level as a member of the Charlotte 49ers in North Carolina. The 49ers play in Conference USA alongside teams like Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, ODU, Rice and Southern Miss.
“The coaching staff was the number one thing for sure,” Joe said, “the facilities are awesome, and when I was going to different schools for summer camps before my junior year it felt like a job and I was trying to get recognized, but when I went there I had fun and loved the way they ran things at the camp, I was excited to go back.”
Although he plans to redshirt as a freshman, Joe believes he can add a lot to the Charlotte offense with his versatile skill-set and his high football IQ once he is on the field.
“I’m good at not forcing the ball, I’m smart with the ball, I think I’m a really good leader, I have really good accuracy, and my ability to run the ball really works to my advantage,” Joe said.
Joe not only expects to be a good fit in the 49ers’ offensive scheme, but he is anticipating a thrilling new vibe in the Queen City as opposed to suiting up Friday nights in Ashburn.
“I think it’s cool going to Charlotte because you’re playing for a city, it’s a cool to put on for your city,” he said. “I love the stadium, it will be cool to play in that stadium, and I like the offense they run, it’s a hurry-up no-huddle offense, I like the idea of playing fast.”
Coming off four years playing for his father and having his brother as an assistant this past year, playing in college will be a new situation for Joe, as he will no longer be surrounded by Thompsons.
“It was really special having them both and to be able to go home after practice and talk, but it does add pressure, I always wanted to make sure I was exceeding their expectations,” Joe said.
Although he is working hard this off-season training with Dave Mikel at Performance Edge in Lansdowne, VA and is eager to get started with the next phase of his journey, he admits he will always miss playing for the Bulldogs with his father and closest friends at his side. Joe has trained year-round at Performance Edge since 8th grade.
“I had a real close-knit group of friends, and being able to share those experiences, I just know there is never going to be a time like that again,” Joe said. “College football will be similar, but you’re not stepping out on the field with all your best friends every Friday night.”
Viva Loudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun