By Eric Newman, GSN Staff Writer
A pair of quality running backs who consistently move the chains and score touchdowns has Williams Field High’s football team once again looking like a state-championship contender.
Senior Jaden Thompson and junior Kendrix Lurry rushed for more than 100 yards each in a 33-14 romp at Marana High on Sept. 14, earning unique nicknames around campus that stuck.
“Now at school people will say, ‘What’s up Thunder,’ or ‘What’s up Lightning’ when we’re walking down the hallway. It’s fun for us,” Lurry said.
Lurry (6.4 yards a carry) is “Lightning” with his speed and ability to maneuver around would-be tacklers. Thompson (5.5 yards a carry), or “Thunder,” is a downhill runner, who often lowers his shoulders and takes a defender or two with him on his way to more yardage.
In a signature five-point home win over Casteel, Thompson made several bruising runs, barreling over defenders en route to a three-touchdown game. But, Lurry was the player entrusted with the ball in Williams Field’s final drive, and he responded with three rushes for first downs to run out the clock.
This scenario is commonplace for the pair, who take as much pleasure in the other’s success as their own.
“Once I get in and start running it hypes him up, and then he goes in to do his thing and I get hyped, so we’re kind of like the dynamic duo,” Thompson said.
“If one of them breaks a big run the other is happy for him. They go hug each other in the end zone if one scores. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a competition with each other, but they definitely are always paying attention to what the other guy does,” running backs coach Alec Horne said.
Thompson was the workhorse as a junior on last season’s 8-3 team, with more than 100 carries for 600-plus yards and nine touchdowns. As a senior, it appeared Thompson would carry even more responsibility in an offense that still has several contributors from a 14-0 state-championship season in 2016.
Instead, the two have shared the load this season. In some games, Lurry has gotten more carries, because the Black Hawks use Thompson’s leg strength and speed as a pass rusher in special defensive packages.
The ability to swap one for the other allows the Black Hawks to have both of them fresh and ready for whatever skills are needed in a situation.
Horne often has the two face each other in hitting drills, and they did similar workouts in the off season. Lurry said Thompson played a big role in his development.
“He’s just a mentor to me. I came up and didn’t expect to be playing this much on varsity, but he’s put me under his wing and shown me a lot about how to play here,” Lurry said. “Every time he makes a play, I just look and see what he’s doing and learn a lot from it. I think he does the same when I am on the field, too.”
Since a road loss at Norco High in California, Williams Field has won out and was No. 3 in the AIA playoff rankings going into the closing month, behind undefeated Centennial and Notre Dame Prep. Thompson said that his teammates have come to expect lower rankings than they believe are deserved.
However, if the running game continues its current production and the Black Hawks keep winning, he believes the rankings will sort themselves out.
“I feel like we’re still slept on, and a lot of rankings don’t have us as high as we think we should be,” he said. “So, we need to keep running like we have and winning games and we’ll be good.”