Last year, as an assistant at Cave Spring, Jamie Harless got to watch one of the best running backs around in Sam Wright.
Now Harless is leading a turnaround season at Lord Botetourt, relying on a similar ground-and-pound attack with a new workhorse.
Chris Thompson would not be denied last Friday, and for that effort he has been named as WDBJ7’s Toyota Player of the Week.
It was the equivalent of a walkoff in baseball, a buzzer beater in basketball. At the end of the second overtime last Friday junior Chris Thompson ran two yards and clinched a milestone victory for Lord Botetourt.
"Incredibly happy. I knew I had got the job done. Our line had done what they had done, done their assignment. The crowd, they were into it,” Thompson said.
Coach Jamie Harless said, "It's like a release of pressure is the best way I can put it to you."
Thompson rushed for 250 yards with a career-high five touchdowns for the Cavaliers in their 38-32 win over Alleghany. Those scores came at crucial moments. Late in the fourth quarter to tie the game. Again in the first overtime. And then the final one of the night, securing Botetourt's first winning season since the year 2000.
“I think he made a decision somewhere there about halfway through the fourth quarter that he wasn't going to be stopped,” Harless said. “He was going to try to put it on his shoulders. And he did, he had some remarkable runs."
Thompson said, "I'm not the fastest person out there obviously. But I do stick my head in there sometimes and lay the hits. That's where I think I make up for the speed and agility that I lack."
It's been a quick turnaround to playoff contender for the Cavaliers under first-year head coach Jamie Harless. Thompson started as a sophomore last year but had to prove himself to a new staff.
"Very quiet, very respectful. All in all you can just tell what type of person he was from the get-go. Yes sir, no sir, look you in the eye. That leaves a pretty good impression on you,” Harless said.
The bruising tailback also reminded Harless of someone from his Cave Spring days. Thompson carried the rock 45 times, similar to the running of former Knight Sam Wright.
"Same type of kid, very tough, very strong. Very much a team player,” Harless said.
Outside of football, Thompson likes to get away for hunting and fishing.
"I love the peace and quiet of the outdoors. My dad owns a couple of acres down in Buchanan. When I'm not sore after games I might go down there and see what I can do during hunting season,” Thompson said.
It's a far cry from the bright lights and crowds of Friday nights. But in either setting Chris Thompson knows how to make his mark.