Linebacker and receiver Terence Thompson helped make what was supposed to be a rebuilding year the team’s most winningest season since 1905.
Terence Thompson didn’t have to look far for good role models.
Thompson remembers when he was growing up, his older brothers Connor, 23, and Joe, 28, were stars on the Father Judge High School football team, but more than good players, they were exceptional leaders.
Thompson wasn’t just watching. He was learning.
“I remember them playing, they were really good, so it was fun watching them, and I knew they worked really hard when they were playing,” Thompson said. “They’ve helped me a lot, too. Whenever I have questions, they’ll help me. They did it all, they played in college, so they know a lot about football.”
Thompson is now more than a student. He’s a teacher.
Thompson is a linebacker and receiver on the Penn Charter High School football team, and while he’s not playing for the same school his brothers did, he is playing for the same coach, Tommy Coyle.
Evidently, he’s as good a leader as his brothers were because this year, as a junior, he was selected to be one of three captains for the Quakers in what was slated to be a rebuilding year.
Penn Charter had a strong senior class a season ago, but this year the team had a lot of inexperienced players asked to play key minutes at important positions.
Things didn’t go as planned.
Penn Charter ended up 9–1. The Quakers’ only loss was to Inter-Ac champion Malvern Prep, preventing them from bringing home the title.
They also scored wins over Catholic League foes Lansdale Catholic and Bonner-Prendergast.
According to tedsilary.com, this year was the winningest season for the Quakers since they won nine games in 1905.
The strong season may have surprised foes in their league and Philadelphia high school football fans, but Thompson wasn’t too shocked by it.
“I knew once we got in, really when we were playing 7-on-7s, that we could be pretty good,” Thompson said. “But you really don’t know for sure until you start playing games. After we beat a very good Lansdale Catholic team, I knew we had a good chance to be a good team. We won that and then built off that.”
Thompson certainly did his part.
While he chipped in offensively, scoring two touchdowns and gaining about 300 yards in receptions, his greatest accomplishments came on defense, where he made first team All-Inter-Ac.
He also saw some time at fullback and, when fellow Northeast resident and Penn Charter kicker Ryan Bradby was busy playing soccer for Penn Charter, Thompson handled kicking duties.
Another Quaker with Northeast ties is quarterback Will Samuel, whose uncle Mike, a Northeast resident, also starred at Penn Charter and later played at Wisconsin.
Those three players had a huge role in helping Penn Charter win 90 percent of its games.
“We’re lucky to have a quarterback who stepped right in and played at a high level,” said Coyle, who spent 13 years at Father Judge before taking over at Penn Charter in 2013. “And Ryan gives us a tremendous advantage in the kicking game. When you can win the kicking game, it gives you an advantage.”
Oh, and then there’s Thompson, a player Coyle has strong family ties with.
“His brothers were great football players and he’s a great football player,” Coyle said. “He comes from a great family, he makes plays on offense and on defense. We’ve had a lot of success at Penn Charter, and a lot of that has to do with great assistant coaches and great players who come from great families.”
The respect goes both ways.
Thompson knew he wanted to play for Coyle when he was watching his brothers at Judge. He had high expectations, and Coyle hasn’t let him down.
“We’re good because (Coyle) pushes us very hard, but he wants what’s best for all of us,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of strong leaders on the team, but the coaches are the biggest leaders. I knew I wanted to play for him for years. My brothers loved playing for him and so do I.”
Thompson had high expectations for his junior year, and now he’s starting to think about his final year.
The work begins now, although he will take some time away from football in the spring to focus on his other sport, lacrosse.
But he’ll spend a lot of time in the weight room before the weather gets a little warmer.
“I tried lacrosse and I really liked it,” said Thompson, who plays defense for the Quakers. “I played basketball, but I decided to focus on football and lacrosse. Football is my main sport.
“I think this year should have us excited about next year. We did better than a lot of people thought we could have. Next year, we can be even better if we keep working.”