Judge bests Northeast in defensive battle

Penns Grove's Malcom Chase leaps in front of Glassboro's Christian James for a first-period interception. Host Glassboro scored a 13-12 victory last night.
Penns Grove's Malcom Chase leaps in front of Glassboro's Christian James for a first-period interception. Host Glassboro scored a 13-12 victory last night.
Posted: September 11, 2010

Rumors don't always pan out. And even when they do, sometimes it takes a while.

Connor Thompson can attest to that. As he does, he'll be beaming from ear to ear. Chin to forehead, too.

Thompson's main job for Father Judge High's football team is to play free safety; that's a change from 2 years at the strong-safety spot. He also returns kicks, sees some action at wideout and - drum roll, please - directs the brand-new wildcrusader offense.

And, yes, that's a Judge-tailored version of the Wildcat.

Last night, in a game with not a whole lot of offense, Judge edged host Northeast, 7-0, in the Catholic-Public Battle of the Lower to Mid-Northeast. The one score went to Mr. Wildcrusader, a 5-11, 190-pound senior, on a 4-yard run 2 minutes, 35 seconds, before halftime.

"There was talk over the offseason that the coaches were going to put in the Wildcat offense, but nothing was for sure," Thompson said. "I can't even tell you if they were there thinking that I'd be the one to run it.

"But once we got out on the field, and started practicing, when we did put in this offense, it was decided that I'd be the one to get the ball."

The sequence began when Thompson made a fair catch of a Northeast punt just 24 yards from the goal line. Immediately, with adrenaline pumping, he ripped off a gain for 14 yards. He followed with pickups of 6 and 4 yards. Touchdown!

Thompson said he played some running back - emphasis: some - in youth football.

"I couldn't tell if I was going to my right or my left," he joked. "The coaches got me out of there."

When asked in which direction his 14-yard run had headed, he had trouble coming up with an answer.

"I have no idea," he said. "Wait. I guess it was to the left. So was the touchdown."

After making the fair catch, Thompson, who is receiving some Patriot League sniffs for his defensive skills, remained on the field and prepared to line up at wideout. Then the instructions came in from the sideline. He would be taking the snaps and quarterback Brian Hennessey would be lining up at wideout.

"It was pretty awesome," Thompson said. "I do like running the ball. We didn't use the formation in our first game last week [22-14 win over Council Rock North]. I guess it just wasn't ready. We worked on it some more in practice this week and we could tell we were getting the hang of it. We had good balance.

"We always try it near the end of practice, in the live portion. We were scoring some touchdowns off it."

After Thompson finished his scoring run, he was swarmed by giddy teammates.

"We were all so happy," he said. "We'd gotten results from something we'd really worked hard at. There was just a big feeling of togetherness."

Thompson finished with five carries for 30 yards while Raul Quinones (18-63) took top-rusher honors for Judge. The defense was sensational, witness two interceptions by end Anthony Walker and one apiece by Quinones (linebacker) and back Tim Mills.

John Donohoe had another, and the result was a 64-yard touchdown, but the play was erased by a roughing-the-passer penalty; Northeast sophomore QB Harold Alexander suffered a suspected mild concussion.

Thompson made three tackles, with one going for a loss.

"The defense really did the job," he said. "Everybody was flying to the ball. If you look at our interceptions, only one was by a d-back."

For Northeast, Marquise Edwards ran 13 times for 70 yards, Shimeek Carter posted a pick and end Deion Barnes, a high-profile prospect, logged two sacks among 11 stops. He also blocked a punt.

Thompson was preceded as a Judge grid mainstay by his brother, Joe, who went on to play for Lycoming. There's also a sister, Morgan, a college sophomore, and another brother, Terence, age 10. The family once called Rhawnhurst home, but has been based for a while in Jenkintown.

"Joe had a good experience at Judge, so I decided to follow him," Connor said.

And Terence is already a presence.

"He's one of the waterboys. He was pretty excited after the touchdown, too. He walked past me on the sideline and said, 'Nice, Connor!' ''

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