Thompson, McGill take part in spring game

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

MOBILE – Mark Freeman and the Thompson football Warriors headed to Mobile to take on defending 7A state champion McGill-Toolen on May 21 in a spring contest. Thompson is moving into its second year under the guidance of Freeman, and has already seen a tremendous upswing in on-field production, as the Warriors went winless in the year before Freeman arrived, and won five games in his first season.

The Warriors will have to replace a number of pieces that helped get them to five wins last year, including quarterback Walker Lott, running backs Carlos Stephens and Frank Mwakajumba, cornerback Emmanuel Tait and nose guard TJ Rayam, just to name a few, and will be something of a young team this fall, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The spring game against McGill-Toolen gave Thompson an early-season glimpse at what its new roster can do.

While both teams wanted to see positive results in the scrimmage, the final score of this contest did not matter nearly as much as they will come August. Thompson did get the best of the defending champs on this day, beating the Yellow Jackets 14-13 thanks to a late Austin Davis punt return for a touchdown.

In the second quarter, rising sophomore quarterback Caleb Ragland hit classmate Shad Byrd for a 19-yard touchdown, which gave Thompson a 7-0 lead with less than nine minutes to play in the first half. McGill-Toolen however tied things up with less than a minute to play in the first half with a long touchdown pass of its own, and the two went into the defensively-dominated first half tied at 7-7.

The only points scored in the third quarter came by way of a Yellow Jacket field goal, as the game continued to be dominated by both defenses.

Most of the Thompson and McGill-Toolen starters played the majority of the first three quarters before sitting out the final period. In the final quarter, with less than four minutes to play, rising senior playmaker Davis took a deep McGill-Toolen punt to the house from 81 yards out, giving Thompson the lead and eventually the win at 14-13.

Thompson finished last year with a 5-5 record, and will look to break into the 7A playoffs for the first time in 2016. The Warriors will start the 2016 season with a home game against Godby High School (Fla.) on Aug. 26.

Ragland finished the day completing 9-of-21 passes for 117 yards, a touchdown and a pick, while Josh Huner also completed 4-of-7 passes for 60 yards as well. Byrd had a very promising day, catching two balls for 48 yards and a score as well as getting 23 rushing attempts for 113 yards to lead the Thompson offense. Trey Turnbow also had six catches for 62 yards as well.

Rising senior Nick Mobley and rising junior KJ Robertson each had two tackles as well to lead the defense.