‘He’s great at everything.’ Merced High star looks to lead on the field, on campus

There’s a lot packed into the 5-foot-6 frame of Merced High’s Desmond Thompson.

The Bears senior is much more than a football or basketball player. He’s more than an athlete. With a help of some other students, Thompson helped bring back the Black Student Union at Merced High last year. This year he serves as the union’s president.

Thompson also belongs to the Merced High Young Life Club, which has allowed him to form relationships with other students at school, in town and around California who share the same faith as him.

Despite all his extracurricular activities, Thompson still finds time to keep a 4.0 GPA this year and a 3.4 overall GPA during his time at Merced.

“That’s just ‘D,’” said Merced High football coach Rob Scheidt. “He’s a great kid. He’s great at everything. He’s one of those kids who you trust to do the right thing.”

Listed at just 5-6 and 155 pounds, Thompson also plays a big role on the football field for the Bears (3-3 overall, 2-0 Central California Conference), who travel to Atwater on Friday night to face undefeated Buhach Colony (6-0, 2-0 CCC) in a conference showdown.

One year after Merced breezed to a 10-0 regular-season record by blowing out teams by an average of 33 points per game, the Bears have scratched and clawed their way this season with a young team.

MER_Thompson3 (1).JPG
Merced High senior Desmond Thompson (10) returns after rushing for 1,000 yards last year for the Bears. Shawn Jansen

Thompson carrying the load

Thompson has shouldered a lot of the offensive load, rushing for 569 yards and seven touchdowns on 112 carries. Add the 15 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown and Thompson is averaging over 20 touches per game through six games this year.

Last season Thompson averaged under 14 carries per game as he finished with 1,008 yards and 16 touchdowns.

“It’s a lot different than last year,” Thompson said. “I get really banged up. I find bruises on Sunday that I didn’t even know I had on Saturday. I go in and ice on Saturdays. I drink lots of water. It’s all about recovery.

“It’s about wanting to win. Everything I do is about wanting to help the team win.”

Thompson has drawn interest from four-year college programs. He recently took a visit to UC Davis. Schools like Sacramento State, Southern Oregon, UC San DIego, Azuza Pacific, Dordt College and Pacific University have all been in contact with Thompson.

Merced High senior Desmond Thompson begins his third season at the varsity level for the Bears. Shawn Jansen

Whether it’s on the field, on the court, at school or just in life, Thompson strives to be a leader. He wants to be the one to set the example for others.

He understands his role as a senior on the team. He knows the younger players look up to him.

“I look at what I do and the impact I can make with the community and the school,” Thompson said. “I know I have a big role to fill and I want people to follow along. It’s just a mindset. I always want to see people succeed. Everyone needs to be looking out to help the next person for everybody to be successful.”

Inspiration to revive Black Student Union

That’s one reason he and a group of students worked hard to bring back the Black Student Union at school.

“We need to bring our community of black students together,” Thompson said. “You don’t have to be black to be part of the group. But it’s important to bring the group together to learn about our culture. Not a lot of kids of color understand our culture. This is a chance to learn more about our ethnicity.”

Friday’s matchup against Buhach Colony will be a reunion of sorts for Thompson, who knows a lot of the Thunder players through youth football.

There’s also a lot on the line. The winning team has the inside track on the CCC championship.

“It’s big for us,” Scheidt said. “We’ve kind of been a team under the radar every game. Buhach Colony is a great team and deserving of all the accolades. Hopefully we can come out and compete and play at our best.”

Friday’s Football Schedule

Merced at Buhach Colony

Atwater at Golden Valley

Johansen at Los Banos

Pacheco at Ceres

Modesto Christian at Livingston

Hilmar at Hughson

Delhi at Le Grand

Mariposa at Waterford

Gustine at Ripon Christian

Washington Union at Chowchilla

Coalinga at Dos Palos