THS wins weather-shortened spring game
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Thompson High School head football coach Mark Freeman saw plenty of reasons for optimism going into the summer following his team’s 27-21 victory over the McGill-Toolen Yellow Jackets in a rain-soaked, weather-shortened spring scrimmage at Larry Simmons Stadium on May 20.
We wanted to get a good assortment of kids on the field, and just wanted to see our guys play.” Freeman said. “We came out playing really well, and hit some big plays. Our receivers made some great catches, and (quarterback) Taulia (Tagovailoa) made some great reads.
“Defensively, we held some kids out, so we knew going in we were going to have some young kids playing defense. And the young ones we had to play, they played well,” Freeman added. “It’s a great spring in that we played a lot of young kids on defense, I mean a lot of them. I’m proud of our kids.”
Both teams battled a pair of 30-minute weather delays during the contest after lightning was reported in the vicinity, and officials called the game with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter when lightning and heavy rains were looming.
The first quarter saw an offensive explosion from the Warrior offense on the arm of Tagovailoa and his corps of receivers. At the end of the first half, Tagovailoa, who is the younger brother of star University of Alabama quarterback recruit Tua Tagovailoa, had completed 9-of-12 passing attempts for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With 5:41 remaining in the first quarter, running back Shadrick Byrd capped off a THS scoring drive when he ran into the end zone from 2 yards out, and Samuel Serrato’s PAT split the uprights to put the home team up 7-0.
On the Yellow Jackets’ next possession, Thompson’s Jaylen Rayam sacked the McGill quarterback on fourth down to set up a 34-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Alondee Vasser. Serrato’s extra point put Thompson up by 14.
After forcing a McGill three-and-out, Thompson added another touchdown when Tagovailoa connected with Sam Holmes on a 34-yard pass. A blocked PAT put Thompson up 20-0.
The Yellow Jackets put their first points on the board with a touchdown in the second quarter shortly before the first lightning delay. McGill mounted a furious comeback to start the second half, adding two third-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-20 lead going into the second lightning delay in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors only had a few minutes from the time play resumed until the referees called the game, and they made the most of it.
With 9:42 remaining in the game, sophomore quarterback Sawyer Pate connected with Kyle Smoak on another touchdown pass to pull Thompson ahead for good.