MIAMI — Playing for the legendary Allan Trimble at Jenks helped prepare Northeastern A&M running back Darwin Thompson to take his talents to the next level.
“Being around Allan Trimble really taught me a lot,” Thompson said. “He really set the foundation of the leadership and winning part I have.”
Thompson, NEO’s second leading career rushing leader, and his Golden Norse teammates face Independence (Kansas) Community College in the Midwest Classic Bowl presented by Downstream Resort Sunday, Dec. 3, at Red Robertson Field.
Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
Tickets for the game are $10 for adults and $6 for children.
Teams arrive in Miami on Friday, Dec. 1 then on Saturday will take part in community activities — including participating in the Miami Christmas Parade — and will be honored at a banquet in the evening.
The Norsemen, who won the Southwest Junior College Football Conference in their second year under head coach Clay Patterson, are 9-2 on the season.
Independence represents the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
The Pirates, also with a second-year head coach (Jason Brown), are 8-2.
Thompson, like everyone else in the Oklahoma football community and beyond, was stunned by the news that Trimble had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“It was really crazy,” Thompson said. “Back in 2014 they had that ice bucket challenge that was for awareness of the ALS disease. I did the challenge with Coach Trimble.
“Once I heard he actually has the disease, it (was) shocking and mind-blowing. Now I represent Coach Allan Trimble. I am a Jenks Trojan for life. Coach Trimble has set the foundation for what I have become. It’s for the ALS disease.”
Thompson had 900 yards as a senior at Jenks when the Trojans beat Union 21-14 for the Class 6A-I state championship.
He had a 51-yard run in the second quarter that set up the Trojans’ go-ahead touchdown.
Thompson also had a big 26-yard gainer in the third quarter.
He was the leading rusher in the game with 13 carries for 144 yards.
Thompson came on during the playoffs for Jenks. He only gained 306 yards in the Trojans’ first nine games but broke the century mark in the final four.
Jenks has won 16 state titles, including four straight from 2010 to 2015. Ten of those came during Trimble’s tenure.
Losing is definitely not accepted. I think the joy of winning is there, but its expected being a Norseman.
“It has definitely taken a lot of work, but I have known from Day 1 that I would be one of the top backs in the nation,” Thompson said.
“Coach Patt definitely gave me that confidence boost when I got here and let me know that I was one of the top backs,” Thompson said. “But without our O-linemen, that definitely would not be possible.
“We have one of the best O-lines in the nation two years in a row, back-to-back seasons,” Thompson said. “They all should be going DI just like last year’s line.”
Thompson has become a diamond-in-the-rough for the Golden Norse ground game.
“Darwin has been one of the most consistent player on offense we've had the last two years,” Patterson said. “He has become a special runner.
“He gives us several options every time he's on the field because of his ability to get to the edge,” Patterson said. “He also isn't afraid to run up inside the tackles and get those tough yards.
“During his two years with us, he hasn't missed a game and really generated some quality yards,” Patterson said.
Thompson has been getting offers from Southern Mississippi, Middle Tennessee, Utah State and New Mexico.
“I have been getting a lot of calls from different schools,” Thompson said “Coming into the bowl game, once people see me play in person is what really wows them. A lot of people think I am 5-6, but I am 5-9 or almost 5-10.
“We feel really prepared,” Thompson said. “We haven’t lost for a while, so I really think we’ve forgotten how to lose. I feel we are really prepared.
“It’s just another game for us.”
Thompson is the second-leading rusher in NEO history with 2,320 yards and 15 touchdowns on 319 attempts.
Charles Elix ran for 1,703 yards in 2003-04.
He was named the offensive player of the year in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference after rushing for 1,291 yards and six touchdowns.
His total is the fourth-best nationally behind Cameryn Brent of Holmes (Mississippi) Community College with 1,373 yards and Mekhi Sargent of Iowa Western and Deandrel Torrey of Mississippi Gulf Coach with 1,298 yards each.