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It’s no secret the Lancaster High School defense has been a major factor in the playoff-bound Bruins’ 8-3 season.
Senior linebacker Dawan Thompson has played a key role in the LHS stop unit’s sound play.
Through 11 games, Thompson, a North-South All-Star game selection, has racked up 95 tackles, seven sacks, a caused fumble and a fumble recovery, which went for a touchdown in the Bruins’ 9-0 homecoming win over Ridge View.
Thompson, who transferred to Lancaster High School from A.C. Flora as a sophomore, enjoys his team role as much as playing linebacker.
“I try to get the players pumped up and making plays,” said Thompson, a two-year starter for the Bruins. “A lot of people look up to me on defense. If I play my part, they will play their part. I like being a leader.”
He also relishes playing linebacker.
At Flora, a Columbia school, Thompson played running back and linebacker for two seasons, but at Lancaster he’s played solely on the defensive side.
“Linebacker is my favorite position,” said Thompson, the Bruins’ 2007 Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman. “I like to hit. I have a passion for playing linebacker.”
Lancaster High School defensive coordinator Ricky Brown said Thompson goes all-out all the time.
“Dawan’s motor is always running and he’s never tentative,” Brown said. “He always wants to make a play.”
The Bruins, in their defensive scheme, use Thompson’s strengths to their advantage.
“Dawan is strong and quick and that allows him to make his share of plays,” Brown said. “We send him a lot (on blitzes) and we expect him to make big plays. Dawan’s the type player who always wants to make a play.”
Thompson uses those same skills in another LHS sport – wrestling – where he earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award last winter and was a Class AAAA state qualifier with a 30-8 record.
Thompson and his Bruins’ defensive teammates will have to make their share of plays tonight when the Bruins battle Greenwood High School in the opening round of the Class AAAA Division II Upper State playoffs.
The 7-4 Eagles enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak and the Region I-AAAA champions.
“We’ve got to hold down Greenwood’s offense,” Thompson said. “We’re going to keep Greenwood from scoring, so our offense won’t be put in hard situations.”
When Thompson’s LHS senior season is complete, he will have one more prep game to play as a member of the North team in the 61st annual North-South All-Star game at Myrtle Beach next month.
“I’m happy to be in there,” he said. “I thought I had a chance because of our good season.”
Brown said Thompson is deserving of his selection to the postseason all-star game.
“That’s a good honor for Dawan,” he said. “He earned it and I’m sure it will be a good experience.”
As for now, Thompson has his sights set on the postseason, a place where the Bruins haven’t been in eight seasons, but they hope to stay for the duration.
“I think we can win tonight,” Thompson said. “If we work harder, stay focused and strive to get better, we can go far.”