Putnam City North senior Haydn Thornton may not be the biggest guy on the defensive side of the ball, but there’s no denying he was meant to be a middle linebacker.
“I’ve liked hitting people since I was five years old,” said Thornton. That’s my favorite thing.”
Hearing that from one of your senior defensive leaders must make head coach Ryan Laverty smile.
“He’s just kind of an old throwback, gritty-type football kid,” claimed Laverty. “That kid is a phenomenal football player. What he does in the mental side of the game and the physical side of the game, somebody’s going to get a special kid with him.”
Which college is able to claim Thornton remains to be seen. So far, schools have been reluctant to offer the 205-pounder due to his size. An accomplished baseball player, Thornton hasn’t bulked up in previous offseasons due to spending time on the diamond.
“Ya, it definitely motivates me,” said Thornton on negative reactions to his size. “I’ve heard that a lot in high school playing middle linebacker. I just go out there and work and do my thing.”
“He got invited to the University of Missouri this summer for a private workout with their linebackers,” recalled Laverty. “He goes up there and has a tremendous workout at Mizzou. He gets back and the coach calls and he said if he was 220 pounds he would have offered him on the spot.”
After dropping a 36-35 heartbreaker in overtime to Putnam City in its season opener, PC North has won its last three games by a combined scored of 151 to 19.
“Probably the best thing about my kids is they’re going to fight til the end,” claimed Laverty. “There’s no quit in them. They’re going to take you to the wire no matter what the score is any time they’re on the field. That’s all I can ask for as a coach.”
“He’s dead on,” confirmed Thornton on Laverty’s assessment. “That’s one thing that we do really well. We’re not going to quit no matter what. We’re not going to stop until the clock hits zero.”
Thornton has been a key contributor on both sides of the ball this season for the Panthers. Through four games, he’s recorded 42 tackles, a sack and an interception on defense. As a tight end on offense, he’s scored touchdowns on two of his four receptions.
A pair of ranked 3-1 teams square off Friday live on Cox’s YurView channel 3 when Thornton and the seventh-ranked Panthers face #9 Edmond Deer Creek in a key 6A-II district showdown. This Ford Game of the Week will also be streamed online.
“I think we just have to come out and play hard and try to control the line of scrimmage,” stated Thornton. “We have to use our athletic ability against them. It’s probably going to be a battle in the trenches. We just have to play hard and come out and do what we do.”