Last week, while attending the Del Norte High School Scholarship program presentation, I watched as Jason Costello presented the Lonnie Thompson Memorial Scholarship.
I could not help but look back at the contributions this young man made to Warrior history while wearing the blue and gold of Del Norte High.
When Lonnie entered high school in the fall of 1987 he immediately joined the Warrior football program. From the start he was a force on both sides of the ball. On offense he played center and on defense he played linebacker or defensive line and play them both well.
In 1988, Lonnie’s sophomore year, he was a vital part of the Warriors’ junior varsity undefeated season. This group coached by Lewis Nova was the first undefeated JV team in 24 years, scoring 256 points while holding its opponents to 41. When Lonnie moved to the varsity as a junior, his outstanding play continued. He played center on offense and linebacker on defense.
I was one of Lonnie’s coaches at the time and what a privilege it was. His performance as an offensive center was outstanding. I have often looked back at the 31 years I coached high school football, at what my all-star team would look like, and Lonnie was the best offensive center I ever coached.
Lonnie was a first-team all-conference pick in both his junior and senior years. I remember receiving letters from major universities about Lonnie. One, the University of Nebraska, was very interested. Lonnie also played basketball his freshman and sophomore years, but this was not his first love, so he stuck to football.
After graduation, Lonnie enrolled at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, joined its football program and immediately became the starting center. I was talking to the CR coaches after Lonnie’s first season and all they could do was praise him. They were really impressed at how quickly he learned to make blocking adjustments and calls at the line of scrimmage. This is something that is not easy to do.
It is sad that Lonnie did not have the opportunity to continue his football career as he was killed in a tragic auto accident during the summer. Warrior fans will long mourn his passing. The scholarship given in his memory expresses both the sorrow and the respect we have for this departed Warrior.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.