Steven Thompson certainly wasn't Carl Albert's starting quarterback last year as a sophomore.
Thompson wasn't even starting there for the junior varsity.
He was backing up starter Caleb Toney there a year ago, hoping for a break.
When he finally got the chance, becoming the full-time quarterback after a season-opening loss to Southmoore, Thompson certainly took advantage.
He earned the starting quarterback job, kept improving throughout the year and Dec. 1 hoisted the gold ball after leading the Titans to their 11th — and most unlikely — state title.
Thompson earned Oklahoman All-State honors.
“Steve developed very fast,” Carl Albert coach Gary Rose said. “Really fast. He's very coachable. He's a great athlete. He has a great balance and great vision.”
Rose expected Thompson to be a very good quarterback for Carl Albert someday. He even thought Thompson might be a very good one by the time the season ended.
But he didn't expect to have that kind of a player leading his offense by midway through the season.
After a 1-5 start, though, Rose started seeing things fall in place for Thompson.
“All of that stuff we thought would develop by the end of the season and he'd have it next year,” Rose said. “But then he's there by the middle of the year and when it gets to where he was in the playoffs, it's phenomenal how he developed.”
It was that sixth game — a 21-17 loss to Guthrie that put the Titans on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention — that gave Thompson the boost to become the player he was for the remainder of the year.
“When we lost that game but had a chance to win I just decided then that I had to be a leader on this team and had to do whatever it took to help this team win,” Thompson said.
Thompson ran for at least 185 yards in each of the Titans' four playoff wins and ran for 14 touchdowns, at least three in every game. Two of those touchdowns came from 70 yards out or more.
He was also a critical piece of Carl Albert's secondary. He had at least one interception in each playoff game including two in the 24-8 win over Tulsa East Central that gave Carl Albert its improbable state title.
“We hadn't played a quarterback two ways in awhile like we did him,” Rose said. “J.T. (Realmuto) could've a few years ago but we didn't need him to. But we had to have Stevie and he did a great job.
“His toughness was a big deal for us.”
For the season, Thompson ran for 1,926 yards and 36 touchdowns. he also threw for 1,395 yards.
Caleb Holland had a close-up view of a lot of Thompson's runs.
The one that stands out the most for the Titans' lineman wasn't an extremely long one. It was critical, though.
The run in Carl Albert's semifinal win over McGuinness all but put the game away, putting the Titans up 42-19.
“It was really kind of a busted play,” Holland said. “A couple linebackers walked up into the hole.
“All we gave him was about a foot but that's all he needed. Watching the film on it, all you can think is, ‘How in the world did you do that?'”
Thompson didn't have lofty individual goals going into the season.
“I wanted to win the ball first and anything else that happened would be great,” he said.
Now, though, Thompson is looking to improve on an incredible junior season.
“The main thing I'm working on right now is trying to gain some weight,” Thompson said. “That's what Coach Rose wants from me right now.”