By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
PEYTON’S PLACE: Senior quarterback Peyton Thompson and the Union football team have put together consecutive victories after a slow start to the season. “All of our goals that we set out for the season are still ahead of us,” said Thompson.
Photo by MIKE MOGUIN for Union Boundary
Not every day do you meet someone named after a professional sports icon, especially in the sport they play. But that is the case with Union quarterback Peyton Thompson, who was named after legend Peyton Manning.
“A lot of people have asked me that,” Thompson said. “My dad and mom were together and Peyton Manning was at Tennessee at the time, and my dad really liked him. So, he named me after him and I thought it was pretty awesome.”
Thompson had the privilege of meeting Manning a few years ago.
“I saw my first game up in Kansas City against the Chiefs when he was with the (Denver) Broncos and he broke a touchdown record. He threw five in that game. It’s really cool to play quarterback and be named after one of the best who ever played,” Thompson said.
Now, as the Redskins’ quarterback, Thompson doesn’t hesitate to model his play after Manning, who retired after the Broncos won their last Super Bowl concluding the 2015 season.
“I loved his competitiveness and his will to win, his will to make his teammates better,” Thompson said. “I’ve studied him quite a bit and just really respect and admire all he did with his career.”
As one would guess, the Broncos are Thompson’s favorite team.
Thompson’s father, Rich, is a teacher at Union High School and is from Colorado.
“He is a huge Bronco fan and a huge John Elway fan,” Thompson said. “It was actually really cool when Manning went to Denver and Elway signed him. We were really pumped for that. We were in Denver on spring break at that time. That was awesome. And getting to see him play with the Broncos, who is my family’s favorite team, was awesome.”
As you can expect, they were thrilled when Denver won Super Bowl 50 three seasons ago.
Thompson transferred to Union from Broken Arrow in time for the last nine weeks of his sophomore year. He understands and relishes his role as a leader behind center.
“I love having the ball in my hands every play, “ he said. “It’s a big responsibility, but it also comes with a lot of reward. I love coming out to practice every day. I love playing in the games. Just the competitiveness and the atmosphere is unbelievable. You get all the glory when you win and all the blame when you lose, so it comes with a lot of responsibility. But, I love to play quarterback. I wouldn’t want to play anything else. I’ve loved it here the last two years.”
As for the game, Thompson loves the team aspect.
“My best friends on the football field are my best friends outside of football. We’re all a brotherhood and those guys are your best friends at school, your best friends you go to church with, just outside of football, those are your guys,” he said.
“I know I can count on these guys and they can count on me, so, that’s an awesome aspect of the game,” Thompson said.
With his dad being a teacher, Thompson had attended Union games most of his life. He gives thanks to God for opening up the doors to join both the school and the program.
His favorite memories so far are last year’s wins over rivals Broken Arrow and Jenks.
“The first game I played here was that game against Broken Arrow, my first game against my former team,” Thompson said. “Just going over there and beating them on national television was an awesome experience. I attended the Backyard Bowl growing up and going to that game my whole life and knowing how big of a rivalry game that is, it was just awesome to play and get a win. Those are my top memories and I know we got a lot in store this season, so I’m excited to see how everything plays out.”
Unfortunately, Union was off to a slow 1-2 start this season with both losses coming to the same rivals. However, the Redskins have since rebounded with wins against Owasso (21-0), avenging a loss to the Rams in last year’s Class 6AI state championship game, and Mustang (44-3).
“Our mindset is still the same,” Thompson said. “All of our goals that we set out for the season are still ahead of us. Obviously, we’re not going to be undefeated and we would love to have those games back, but, everything we want to do is still in front of us. The team’s focus is still there and we’re pretty locked in. We know we’ll get another shot at those teams in the end. We’re real excited.”
Union was 3-2 overall and 2-0 in District 6AI-2. Coming up on the schedule is Putnam City North at home on Oct. 5, followed by Moore (Oct. 12) and Norman North (Oct. 18) on the road. The Redskins will wrap up the regular season playing their last two at home against Southmoore (Oct. 25) and Edmond North (Nov. 1).