Leader of the pack

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cougar quarterback Michael Thompson is preparing for his third year under center during his senior season at EA.

When first-year head coach Hugh Fountain took over the job of Escambia Academy athletic director earlier this summer he inherited a young Cougars football squad. Young, but led by a handful of veteran players, including third year starting quarterback Michael Thompson.

At 6 foot, 3 inches tall and 180 pounds, Thompson is the prototypical quarterback size wise, but Fountain said he also possesses the mental toughness, experience and leadership abilities a quarterback must have to be successful.

“It helps when you come in and you’ve got a quarterback that’s already been here and played,” Fountain said. “He’s what you’re looking for. A hard worker, a guy with intangibles and a leader on the field. With him having all of those things, that automatically helped.”

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Thompson said he and his teammates have spent the summer working to smoothly transition from former head coach Heath Gibson’s style of offense to the new system under Fountain.

“It’s been difficult, but we’ve learned to stick with it and work hard,” Thompson said. “It’s really different. The plays are different. The way we learn them is different, but coach Fountain has been doing everything slow to try and get us ready.”

Despite scheme changes on offense, Thompson said he is eager to hit the field for EA’s opener against Fort Dale and put into motion the plan the Cougars have been formulating all summer.

“Right now I’m working on my footwork and my passing,” Thompson said. “My passing game is where I really want to improve this year.”
And Thompson will have to step up in his game through the air as the Cougars will hit the field this year without star running back Jaylen Henry, who graduated in May.

Despite the loss of Henry, Thompson said he feels confident in the group of skill players surrounding him on offense.

“It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “(Coach) has got it set up where they’re going to need me to run the ball a little more, but we’ve got a bunch more kids coming in. We’ve got two big receivers that can run fast and run hard and we’ll be able to get it done.”

In 2011 Thompson set an impressive mark, throwing for 1600 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 600  yards. Thompson said his overall personal goal for the 2012 season is to be an all around better quarterback.

“Basically I want to get better at everything I do,” he said. “I want to get my passing yards past 2,000. I want to hit 1,000 yards rushing and I’d like to get to 20 passing touchdowns. I just want to overall get better.”

With a tough schedule ahead of the Cougars in 2012, Thompson will have his chance to improve his skills on the field and he said he has already set his sights on redemption over EA rivals Monroe Academy, who handed the Cougars a loss in 2011.

“Monroe definitely is always a big game. We’ve got them this year.”

Thompson and the EA Cougars will kick off the 2012 season Friday, Aug. 24 versus Ft. Dale Academy at home on Bachelor Field.