Once again it is the first of the week, which means it is time to anoint another Independence Bank player of the week. Independence Bank is proud to sponsor a weekly article highlighting players in the areas where Independence Bank flourishes who embody the same type of revolutionary service to their respective football teams which has made Independence Bank unique and special in the banking industry. Independence Bank has a goal of achieving everyday excellence and this week we are focusing on a player whose performance exceeded both the Bruins’, and the Louisville community’s, expectations. We are focusing on a linebacker who seemed to both strive for and achieve excellence every single day he walked on either a practice or playing field. That player is Class of 2021, AFI-KPG Freshman All-State and, newly minted, MaxPreps Freshman All-American, Justice Thompson.
I first wrote about Justice Thompson on April 2, 2017 in an article entitled Justice Thompson Lays Down the Law. In that article, I said that Justice would probably log significant PT for Ballard next year as a freshman if he doesn’t start. Emphasis Added. I would also like it remembered that Kentucky Prep Gridiron was the first publication to recognize his extraordinary play this past season and the first to reward it with All-State recognition. Since making our Freshman All-State Football team, Justice has gone on to be awarded Louisville Ballard’s Defensive MVP for his Varsity play and was nominated and selected a MaxPreps Freshman Football All-American. Not too bad for Justice, or for us, as we are proud to say we started the award train for Justice headed down the proverbial track, if you will. Not to say we told you so…but, we did tell you so!
Justice started all year long and we have Thompson logging around 120 tackles, this year, as Louisville Ballard’s top tackler, with 69 of the tackles being solo. MaxPreps, in its article concerning his selection to its Freshman All-American team, only credited his having garnered 111 tackles this past season, which we believe too modest. I have before said, having stood eye ball to eye ball with Justice on numerous occasions, I believe him to be both taller and heavier than Ballard lists him on their roster. Justice is listed at 6’0″ 225, but I would be willing to wager 6’1″ 235 is probably more accurate. Regardless, Justice is just a monster. Justice started at the Mike (MLB) for Louisville Ballard High School. The Bears compete in Kentucky’s highest classification of football, 6A, and count Louisville Male and Trinity as teams it consistently plays. Prior to his stellar Freshman year at Ballard, Justice anchored the Kentucky FBU team which traveled to Naples, FA and finished 6th in the FBU National Championship Tournament. Afterward, he came home to Kentucky and took over the defensive side of the ball in the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic, culminating in his being selected the Defensive MVP.
His HC at Future Stars was his Defensive Coordinator at Ballard this season, LaKunta Farmer. Farmer had this to say about his freshman, 6A, starter in the middle…Justice will be one of the best LB’s I’ve coached before he graduates. He is very strong and knowledgeable on the field. Uses great technique and fundamentals on every play. The thing that sets him apart from others is his natural instinct to find the ball carrier and bring him down. When he garnered selection to the AFI-KPG Freshman All-State team, I was able to share with the committee that I have enjoyed the benefit of watching Thompson play, both live and on film, and have been most impressed with his incredible speed, agility, and explosion as defining athletic attributes.
There is a running argument about whom is the best freshman linebacker in Kentucky and most believe it is either Justice Thompson or Austin Gough from Owensboro. Austin Gough was nominated for the MaxPreps All-American team along with William Long from Hopkinsville with only Thompson being ultimately selected though we believe all three to have been very deserving. The argument about which linebacker is better between Thompson and Gough is fun to debate but in the end, who cares? They are both incredible. Justice is not quite as fast as Gough and Gough is not quite as thick as Justice but both of them are super explosive, powerful, and strong for their positions and age. There just wasn’t a freshman linebacker in Kentucky this year, especially in Class 6A, who rivaled Justice’s production and could boast the same skill set and physical measurables. I can tell you that in the selection process for our AFI-KPG All-State Freshman Football team there wasn’t a question from anyone on the selection committee that Gough and Justice both were going to be included on our team at linebacker. No question at all!
Congratulations to Justice Thompson for his selection to the AFI-KPG Freshman All-State Football team, for his selection as Ballard’s Defensive MVP, for his selection to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American Football team and for his Revolutionary Play which has earned him this week’s recognition from the fastest growing bank in the Commonwealth of Kentucky…your friends at Independence Bank. This is Fletcher Long reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!