by Nathan Webber
One word describes Pirate junior running back Ronnie Thomas – explosive.
For example, Thomas had four plays of 10 yards or more in the Pirates 34-7 win vs. the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer on Sept. 10. Thomas rushed for 84 yards and one touchdown on the win.
On Oct. 22, Thomas had six plays over 10 yards in the Pirates 48-6 win vs. Pacific University. In that game, Thomas had 159 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“Ronnie is an explosive runner,” head coach John Tully said. “He sees the field very well and always gets positive yards.”
Like on the first game of the season when Thomas broke a run for 53 yards against Chapman University on the third play of the game, and again in week four when Thomas rushed for a season-high 65-yard gain. Both rushes led to Pirate touchdowns.
The Pirate offensive linemen also tend to agree with their coach.
“He’s a very explosive runner and he can break off a big play when we need it,” senior starting offensive lineman Travis Todd said.
That explosiveness has shown on the field as Thomas has 21 plays that have gone for 10 or more positive yards and eight plays of 20 yards or more on the season.
“He looked very good coming in, a promising runner,” Tully said. “He continues to improve each week, he works hard in the weight room and does the little things to make this football team better.”
Thomas, a business major from Granite Bay, Calif., started playing football when he was 10 years old. He has been a runningback for his entire playing career and has seen a lot of success.
“We won our section championship in high school,” Thomas said. “Then I ended up going to junior college at American River in Sacramento where we won our division and our bowl game.”
His previous success has helped him become the featured back for the Pirates’ offense and one of the top rushers in the Northwest Conference. He leads the NWC in rushing yards (735), rushing yards per game (91.6) and is second in rushing touchdowns (7). He also is second on the team in total yards per game (91.9), first in the Northwest Conference in rushes (134) and fourth in the Northwest conference in average yards per rush (6.0 – minimum of 20 rushing attempts).
Pressure situations are also a forte of Thomas’s. In last weekend’s game vs. Willamette University, Thomas touched the ball on five of the seven plays in the first overtime series, rushing for 16 yards and a score, helping the Pirates defeat the Bearcats 25-24. Thomas finished with 77 yards rushing, 7 yards receiving and one touchdown.
“The adrenaline rush and the pressure during the game [is my favorite part of football],” Thomas said. “There is so much to gain and so much to lose.”
Thomas’s passion for football is shown through his work ethic on the field, but when Thomas is not playing football, he still likes to stay active and work hard by running, lifting weights and working out. He also seems to have the type of personality that everyone likes.
“He is a really laid-back guy outside of football, a nice guy and a hard worker,” Todd said. “Ronnie is a very passionate player who just loves the sport of football.”
Thomas and the rest of the Pirate football team are playing their final home game of the season on Nov. 5 vs. fifth-ranked Linfield College.