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High school football: Ogden Tigers win on night honoring head coach diagnosed with ALS

Ogden football coach Erik Thompson, who was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, celebrates with his team during a high school football game billed as “Erik Thompson Night” on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Ogden High School in Ogden.
Ogden football coach Erik Thompson, who was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, celebrates with his team during a high school football game billed as “Erik Thompson Night” on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at Ogden High School in Ogden.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Box score

Both sides of the football field at Ogden High School were a sea of orange Friday night.

Friends, relatives and former players of Tigers coach Erik Thompson were on hand to lend their support for the longtime area coach who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The game was partially meant to be used as a fundraiser and the Grand Red Devils were invited to join.

Despite its 1-2 record, Ogden came in inspired and Chet Colvin, Yahir Morales and Chino Furniss had big games as the Tigers overran the smaller (2A) Grand and claimed a 42-14 nonregion win.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Thompson, who remained at the stadium at least an hour afterward to greet hundreds of friends who came to the special event. “My family set it up. I tried to stay focused and I think I did for the first half; then we got such a nice lead that I could enjoy it.”

The Ogden crowd certainly enjoyed it. Most were dressed in flaming orange T-shirts that read “Thompson Tough” that they’ll have in their closets forever.

Grand might need to start its own brand, too, because coach Samuel Crane said his team was so beat up after its third straight loss last week that he called and suggested the game be canceled.

“He had no idea what was being planned here,” Thompson said. “I had to do some quick thinking to get them to want to come up (to Ogden).”

The outcome was never in doubt. The Tigers scored on their first drive — a series of runs by Morales set up a 13-yard scamper by Colvin — and it was 14-0 a few minutes later.

Grand’s Rayce Walling gave his fans something to cheer about by catching an 80-yard scoring pass, but Ogden retaliated 20 seconds later.

By halftime, the lead had ballooned to 42-7 and included a 6-yard touchdown catch by the coach’s son, Kire Thompson, and then the Tigers emptied the bench and let linemen get some time at the skill positions. Ayden Franich, a 250-pounder, scored the first touchdown of his football career with a short run on a fourth-down play.

Kire Thompson, just a sophomore, already has three touchdown catches this season, and was happy this one came on a proud night for his family.

“It was exciting to have everyone be here,” he said. “It’s been a long week and I’m glad I had a good part in it.”

The second half was played mostly with a running clock due to the UHSAA’s 35-point “mercy rule.” Ogden could have built the lead even more, but emptied its bench throughout and penalties also negated a couple of scores.

Crane said he was glad the game was played even though his injury-prone squad suffered more injury problems. Fortunately, the Red Devils have a week off before their next game.