There was no doubt about this: Shulby immensely enjoyed himself Saturday, like always during his interactions with the Florida-bound Thompson and the Vikings, who rolled to a 49-0 triumph over Murrell Dobbins Tech for the Class AAA City Title.
Shulby, who has Down syndrome, became Thompson's friend 4 years ago, when the two were eighth-graders at Doylestown's Holicong Middle School. For 3 years, as part of a program called Athletes Helping Athletes, Inc., Shulby has been a Vikings fixture.
In his No. 99 jersey, John always accompanies Colin and the other captains (Joey Monaghan, Desmon Peoples, Kyle Adkins) to midfield for the coin toss, then rallies/entertains the troops throughout.
Colin said John even comes to Wood for Friday walk-throughs and knows the team's inner workings so well, "He could probably call a play, if he had to."
A pass to Colin, no doubt.
Hey, that's how this game began and the result was a 46-yard gain. Another pass followed, and then another, and another, and another and . . . geez, had Devlin spent the week hobknobbing with Andy Reid?
By the time the starting skill guys called it an afternoon shortly before halftime, with the bulge at 42-0, first-cousin rushing stalwarts Desmon (Rutgers) and Brandon (Temple) Peoples owned a total of one carry, a 21-yarder for Brandon.
Monaghan, meanwhile, had passed 12-for-14 for 199 yards and four touchdowns; the first two to Adkins and then one apiece to Nate Smith (West Virginia) and Thompson.
"We never talked about throwing a lot today," Thompson said. "Coach Devlin just said we'd come out really looking to move the ball. We run the ball a lot, so to come out passing so much was a big surprise. That was fun. We have a lot of receiving weapons, and Joey was spreading the ball around."
Just then, Dobbins lineman Kareem Jefferson walked over, enthusiastically congratulated Thompson on his strong performance and said, "Let me get a picture with this guy."
One of Dobbins' prime supporters was standing nearby, camera at the ready. Snap!
Thompson finished with three catches for 67 yards and ther TD was an 11-yarder. He also logged tackles on Dobbins' first two plays, with the latter a 14-yard sack, and powered through the line for a 3-yard tackle-for-loss toward the end of the quarter.
At Florida, where he'll join George Washington product Sharrif Floyd, the 6-6, 255-pound Thompson is expecting to play tight end. But who knows? Maybe he'll wind up as a defensive bookend to Floyd.
"Well, they recruited me as a tight end," Thompson said, "but this is the attitude I'll be having going down there: Whatever they need me to do is what I'll do."
Further discussions, perhaps, will take place Dec. 4. That's when some of Florida's coaches are coming to the Thompsons' for dinner.
"I can make a mean meal," Colin said, smiling. "Whatever they want, they got it. My great-grandmother is Italian. I make a great meatball."
While Monaghan passed for TDs Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6, No. 3 was a 62-yard punt return by Smith and No. 4 was the Vikings' first rush, a 7-yarder by Ryan McMullin. Thereafter, junior Nick Visco hammered his 171st career PAT, breaking the city record belonging to 2010 West Catholic grad Tim Carroll. (He added two more before Steve Buonomo converted after No. 7.)
Obviously, Dobbins' bright moments were scant, but Jefferson recovered a fumble at the 1 right before halftime and, later, Steven Bizzell used a full-out leap at the goal line to keep a punt from becoming a touchback.
The Thompson/Shulby tie goes back to 2009.
"I just told coach Devlin that I'd like for John to be part of our team, and to come down on our sidelines for games and he said right away, 'No problem. We'll make that happen,' " Thompson said. "It's been a great thing. I'm not looking forward to the end of it, but hopefully it'll end on a good note."
As in a state championship.
After a 1-week rest, the Vikings will return to action in early December vs. the winner of this week's Pottsgrove-Phoenixville Ditrict 1 title battle.
By then, maybe, Colin Thompson will know for sure whether John Shulby was aware he'd be doused.
"He was telling me to get someone else," Thompson said, "but I think he knew it'd be him."
Online high school coverage at philly.com/rally.