For Concord High running back Olito Thompson, the 2011 season was a study in proving people wrong.
Told that the Minutemen couldn't possibly be as good as they were when they won the North Coast Section Division II title in 2010, Thompson set out to prove otherwise in his junior season.
He didn't just prove people wrong. Thompson ran for a Northern California record 3,488 yards, breaking the mark of 3,416 set by Dixon's John Bordenkircher in 1997.
For putting his team on his back all season long, Thompson has been named the 2011 Bay Area News Group East Bay Player of the Year.
"Nobody had ever seen me play, so that motivated me and my team to play hard," Thompson said. "My offensive line felt
Playing hard was never a question with Thompson. Look no further than the NCS Division II title game against Windsor.
The Minutemen lost 28-20, but Thompson carried the ball an incredible 54 times for 285 yards. He set a Northern California record for carries in a single game, and did just about everything he possibly could to try and get his team a second NCS title.
"If I'm in the game, I give everything my best," Thompson said. "Even if I'm tired, we're taught to run as hard as you can."
That effort came two weeks after Thompson had set another mark, rushing for an East Bay-record 457 yards in a win over Las Lomas. He scored on runs
"It all had a very surreal feeling to it," Concord coach Brian Hamilton said. "When the first one broke, I was almost in disbelief. I exhaled and said at least we have something that will take a little pressure off the defense. When the second one broke, my jaw dropped."
That game was one part of an incredible postseason. In four playoff games, Thompson rushed for 1,387 yards and 10 touchdowns.
It wouldn't be reasonable to expect Thompson to come up with the same numbers next year. For starters, Hamilton hopes that he won't have to call on his workhorse quite as often as he did this season.
"He had to do so much for us," Hamilton said. "What I'm hoping is he evolves into a complete back where he's got great hands out of the backfield and he's able to help our pass game. Hopefully we won't have to call on him as much, but when we do, we'll get big results."
Thompson agrees with his coach, saying that if he doesn't have as many yards next year, there are still ways to have an even better season.
"I'm one of those people where if I'm in the game, I have to be good at it," Thompson said. "If they wanted me to be a receiver, I would have to be good at it."
After the season he had, there won't be many people doubting him in 2012.