North Bay Bulldogs’ all-time top scorer, Ricky Thompson, was honoured Saturday during the NFC semi-pro contest against the visiting Sudbury Spartans, Saturday.
Sudbury withstood a late push by the Bulldogs to sweep the three-game series between the clubs with a 16-8 victory. Each team now moves on to the playoffs with opponents and schedules to be confirmed.
Thompson, a prolific kicker, punter and slot back 1993 to 2008, earned an induction into the Northern Football Conference Hall of Fame.
The ceremony took place at half-time with both teams creating a half-circle facing several hundred fans at the Steve Omischl Sports Fields Complex.
Thompson and his wife, Melissa, a former Bulldogs trainer, traveled from their home in Welland, ON for the event.
“It was a great honour and a shock, actually,” Thompson said at the tail end of the game, referring to when Bulldogs coach and president Marc Mathon told him.
The 1995 and 2005 NFC all-star said he wasn’t aware of all the statistics he compiled over 15 years.
He said it’s hard to watch the Bulldogs play without wanting to get back in there, especially with several of his former teammates still taking part.
“Even now you still have the itch to play but you know your body can’t handle it, so that’s one of things right? But it’s a great atmosphere and I miss it,” he said.
The Widdifield Secondary School graduate is second all-time in the 65-year-old NFC league’s field goal department, hitting 38 with his longest field goal from 45 yards out, which won a game in the last second.
He is third all-time in converts hitting 189 of 194 (five blocked, none missed).
Thompson leads the league in single point rouges with eight coming off field goal attempts and 14 scored on punts.
As a receiver, he caught 105 passes for 1,226 yards and found paydirt eight times.
As a ball carrier, he averaged 7.23 yards on 39 rushes gaining 282 yards and scored two touchdowns.
He sits ninth all-time in the NFC scoring with 387 points, the most ever by a Bulldogs player.
Thompson was named to the NFC all-star team twice, the first in 1995 and second in 2005.
As for punting, his average was in the 40-yard range over 15 years.
The Bulldogs introduction to Thompson captured the value of the player and depth of his character.
“Ricky’s team attitude is second to none as he was always first to welcome new players onto the team … He’s always ready to spend some time teaching young players how to be competitive as receivers, kickers or punters,” those in attendance were told.
“He was the calming voice on and off the field. Ricky’s character stands for all that is good in a man and football player.
“He is exactly the type of player that is becoming of an NFC Hall of Famer.”
Mathon said Thompson was committed to excellence.
“Ricky was a terrific teammate as well as an awesome player to coach. He met his wife Melissa within the Bulldogs family and is an example of all that is good about football and the relationships fostered within the sports,” he said.
“Great friend, great football player … great person.”
Thompson’s former teammates still suiting up as Bulldogs include Ron Penasse, Russ Burns, Josh Ricker, Randy Nodder, Dan Routley, Sterliing Bilz, Tyler Croghan, Jack Ramsey, John Smales and Brian Samson. Coaches and executive include fellow NFC hall of famer running back Mick Bilz, Jason Pichette, Eric Morgan and Adam McLaren.