NEW MIDDLETOWN - Ending up on the highlight reel is nothing new to Marky Thompkins.
Thompkins delivered many memorable moments during his four years as a Potter, and the East Liverpool graduate made a few more during the 33rd Annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic Football Game June 29 at Springfield High School.
First, Thompkins weaved his way through several Pennsylvania players en route to a long punt return in the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, Thompkins intercepted a pass on an attempted trick play.
East Liverpool’s Marky?Thompkins takes a break during the Penn-Ohio Game June 29. (Photo by Aaron Petchal)
In the end, Thompkins helped Ohio come away with the 19-7 victory.
"It feels great to be able to play football again and to end it on a victory," Thompkins said.
Practice for the game got underway June 18 at East Liverpool's practice field. The first day of practice came about six weeks after Thompkins took part in the annual OVAC All-Star Basketball Game down at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.
"Actually, it wasn't," Thompkins said about if it was difficult to get back into football shape. "It was fun meeting new people. We had to run a lot, but it was fun. We messed around, but we took it seriously when we had to."
All-star games are fun, but once the game gets underway the players' competitiveness tends to come to the forefront.
"Yeah, it was fun in the beginning, and then all of a sudden they just started talking a bunch of crap and then I don't know," Thompkins said. "From that point, we just took over."
It took the players and coaches on the team a couple of days to get know one another.
"I knew a couple of them, but I still don't know some of them as well as I would like to but I met a lot of them and they are my friends now and I just had fun," Thompkins said.
While the game was the final football game for some of the players in the game, it will not be for Thompkins. Thompkins will wear his Potter helmet one more time as he takes part in the 67th Annual OVAC/ Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game. The game is set for 7:15 p.m. July 29 down at Wheeling Island Stadium.
"Yes, I'm going to play in that," Thompkins said.
The players on the Ohio and West Virginia teams are usually more familiar with each other due to the fact that many of them play against each other during the season or in other sports throughout the course of the school year.
Thompkins said he thinks both experiences will be about the same.
"I hope, because it was fun," he said. "It was a challenge. It was nothing easy. We just came out on top, so that made it fun."
Due to location, Ohio has a rivalry with both Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Thompkins said he did not know which rivalry is bigger.
"I'm not sure," he said. "I really have no idea. This was a big-rivalry game. It seemed like it after the second quarter."
During his time as a Potter, Thompkins made spectacular players all over the football field, and this past basketball he became the latest East Liverpool basketball player to surpass the 1,000 point mark for his career. Thompkins seems to rise to the challenge in big situations.
"Something like that I guess," Thompkins said. "I'm not sure. I guess when the game is on the line is when I know I need to step up."
With about a month between the two all-star football games, Thompkins said he will continue to work to stay in football shape.
"I will be in the weight room and I'll just keep running and go there," he said.
Thompkins thinks playing in the OVAC All-Star Game will be easier due to all of the work he put in for the Penn-Ohio Game.
"Oh yeah, it is going to be way easier," he said. "Yeah, I was way out of shape. I'm not going to lie. I was way out of shape. "
While July 29th will be the end of some players' career, Thompkins will be continuing his academic and athletic careers at the next level. Thompkins will be playing football and basketball at Geneva College.
Thompkins thinks it will be more difficult playing two sports in college than it was playing two sports in high school.
"Oh yeah, I have been thinking about it," he said. I think it is going to be way tougher, but I'm just going to step up and take the challenge."
Thompkins is one of a handful of local players who will be playing basketball at Geneva in the winter.
"Yeah, it will be fun," Thompkins said. "It will be fun. It will be nice to know people down there and not be by myself."
Thompkins will be majoring in sociology.
"I don't know. I took criminal justice for two years, and that is just kind of what it is," Thompkins said.
The Buckeyes' victory capped a good couple of weeks for Thompkins.
"I'm just going to look back on it as a good note," Thompkins said. "We came out on top, and I just had fun."