STILLWATER — Carl Albert coach Gary Rose knew Steven Thompson was eventually going to be a good quarterback for the Titans.
He just didn't expect it so soon.
Thompson's emergence as the Titans' top playmaker, leader and workhorse has paved Carl Albert's way to Saturday night's Class 5A championship game.
Expect Thompson to get 30-plus rushing attempts in the finals as the Titans try to take down No. 1 Tulsa East Central at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium.
“He's been a huge surprise,” Rose said. “We knew he'd be good, but he's gotten good really quick.”
The Titans lost five of Thompson's first six starts at quarterback, but as he slowly began to learn his role, the team began to find more and more success.
Now they've won seven straight heading into the title game with Thompson carrying the majority of the load.
In the mold of past Carl Albert quarterbacks, most recently J.T. Realmuto, who guided the Titans to a title in 2009, Thompson runs with a combination of power and speed.
“He doesn't look like it, but he's got great quickness, speed, vision and toughness,” Rose said of the 5-foot-11, 176-pound junior. “He's quiet, very humble, but he's a very good leader. That's the biggest quality in a quarterback that has to develop, and I think he already had that in him.”
He has also been valuable on defense, with four interceptions while helping to solidify a secondary that was shaky early in the season.
But offense is where his true value lies. Thompson has rushed for 1,737 yards and 33 touchdowns this season, and thrown for another 1,388 and seven scores.
But he really picked it up in the playoffs. His worst — if you can call it that — postseason performance was rushing for 189 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries in the 28-21 win over Del City in the first round.
“He's just a workhorse,” senior lineman Caleb Holland said. “He's real unselfish, just a different kind of kid. He's so shifty and athletic, it's hard for people to bring him down.”
Most importantly, he quickly earned the respect of his teammates.
“Stevie's come a long way, becoming a leader for us,” senior Kyler Walker said. “Nobody really knew who he was last year as the backup quarterback. He's always the guy in the huddle, taking control of the team, and we're glad to be a part of it when he's making plays like he does.”