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Football: Preston Thompson on cusp of history at Tinley Park

Tinley Park back PrestThompsis tackled by Joliet Catholic's KevJensen. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media

Tinley Park back Preston Thompson is tackled by Joliet Catholic's Kevin Jensen. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 19, 2013 7:01PM



Preston Thompson always wanted to be a running back.

So when Tinley Park’s coaches asked incoming freshmen to join a position group, Thompson slipped over with the running backs — even though he never had played the position.

During his one and only season in eighth grade on the Country Club Hills Cougars, Thompson, a robust 175 pounds, played nose tackle.

“The (Tinley) coaches said, ‘If you’re a running back, go with the running back group. If you’re a lineman, go with the linemen group,’ ” Thompson said with a chuckle. “I always wanted to be a running back. So I gave it a try.”

Thompson not only remained at running back, by the end of his freshman season he was toting the pigskin for the varsity.

Now a senior, Thompson is on the verge of breaking the all-time rushing record at Tinley Park, held by Preston Williams with 3,043 yards. Thompson needs 194 yards to unseat Williams, a 1995 graduate.

“To be able to break that record would prove to me that I did the right thing by moving to running back,” Thompson said. “I’d love to break that record. But just as important is for the team to make the playoffs.”

The Titans have qualified for the playoffs the past three years, thanks in large part to Thompson. The 5-foot-7, 210-pound fullback is not the type of runner defenders are eager to stand in front of to try to stop. While he picks up a considerable amount of his yards from running between the tackles, once he gains entry into the open field he’s difficult to bring down.

“I like to run hard and be a bruiser,” he said. “I like to be able to dictate the pace of the game as a running back.”

Thompson gained nearly 900 yards as a sophomore and had 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns during an All-Area campaign in 2012. He’s off to a fine start this season, totaling 519 yards and averaging 8.2 yards per carry.

Tinley Park, however, is sitting at 1-2 on the young season.

“We’re just not connecting as a team right now,” said Thompson, a Markham resident. “We’ve got to keep working and coming together as a team.”

Thompson’s first love growing up was baseball. After a two-year absence, Thompson dug out his glove and spikes and played for the Titans in the spring, starting in center field.

He was, however, disappointed with his performance.

“It didn’t go as well as I expected,” Thompson said. “I used to get hits all the time but it was tough.”

Thompson wants to continue to play football in college. He’s just not sure where. He’s certain he wants to either study business management or nursing.

“My stepdad owns his own business and it’s something that interests me,” said Thompson, a Prairie Hills Junior High graduate. “But I also like to help people, which is why I’m considering a career in nursing. We’ll see what happens. I just want a chance to play in college. I love football.”



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