Plenty on the line for Thompson and Hewitt-Trussville in our Game of the Week

Published 10:39 am Monday, October 22, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

It’s a game we have been looking forward to since before the season. Two teams ranked inside the top six of the class 7A standings battling for a chance at the region championship, with two Alabama commitments at quarterback on each side, oh and it’s on ESPN 2.

With four teams tied for first in Class 7A Region 3 at 5-1, all of them have a chance to win the region championship on Friday night with matchups featuring one of the other three teams.

While these two will square off against one another, Mountain Brook will also travel to Hoover for a game that will have an impact on seeding and the region championship.

Below, we give you the different scenarios for how each team can win the region championship and the impact each outcome can have on seeding for the playoffs.

We also break down the matchup between the Warriors and Huskies, which is truly all that matters for Thompson and all the Warriors can control.

If Thompson wins and Hoover loses to Mountain Brook

This is Thompson’s only chance to repeat as the region champions. With a win against the Huskies, as well as a Mountain Brook victory, the Warriors and Spartans will finish tied atop the region standings at 6-1 with Thompson holding the tie breaker thanks to its head-to-head victory last week.

If Thompson wins and Hoover beats Mountain Brook

Despite not winning the region championship in this scenario, it’s still the next best outcome for the Warriors. With a win and a Hoover victory, they’ll finish tied atop the standings with the Bucs, but would lose out on a tiebreaker after Thompson’s head-to-head loss. The Warriors, however, would still lock up the No. 2 see, which would give them home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That would be huge, making a win against the Huskies very important.

If Thompson loses and Hoover loses to Mountain Brook 

The reason a victory against Hewitt-Trussville is so important is because a loss and a Hoover loss to Mountain Brook would send Thompson from competing for the region championship all the way down to a four seed heading into the postseason. The good news is they would most likely get a matchup against James Clemens, who the Warriors beat 38-7 to start the season, or Austin, who they would also be favored over. Thompson, would, however, prefer to play the four seed out of Region 4 at home. Mountain Brook would win the title in this scenario. 

If Thompson loses and Hoover beats Mountain Brook

The final scenario would see Thompson claim the three seed out of the region, with Hewitt winning the title and Hoover taking the No. 2 seed. The Warriors would hold a tiebreak advantage over the Spartans sitting at 5-2, which would put them at No. 3 in the region, setting up a road matchup with the second best team in Region 4, likely again James Clemens or Austin. Hewitt-Trussville would win the title in this scenario.

What to expect in the game aired on ESPN 2

With all of that laid out, it’s time to look at the only destiny either Hewitt-Trussville and Thompson can control on Friday–their matchup against one another.

First and foremost, it’s a game being aired nationally on ESPN 2, something each has to block out and focus on the bigger picture of winning a football game.

The Huskies may have an advantage in doing so after opening the season on ESPN, a game they lost 34-30 to Cedar Grove (GA), but nonetheless got the experience of a nerve-wracking televised game.

The good news for the Warriors, they are coming off of their best performance of the season against the No. 5 Spartans, who they beat dominantly by a final score of 31-7 thanks to an extremely well-executed game plan.

Thompson was able to go in with the idea of running the ball, while playing power ball up front on both sides of the ball, and it shut down Mountain Brook all night.

Star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had his lowest passing total of the season, but running back Shadrick Byrd was able to run wild for one of his best games of the season.

It was a Mountain Brook team that was giving up just 8.4 points per game and hadn’t given up more than 17 in any game this season, including three shutouts and six total games of 14 points or less.

The 17 points came against the Huskies, who Mountain Brook beat 20-17 the week before. That was what had people high on the Spartans, as they had taken an offense averaging 40-plus points per game and shut them down to just 17 points.

That didn’t faze the Warriors, however, as they posted those 31 points, which has to have you feel as if they are the favorite going into this Friday’s matchup.

The only problem Thompson has had this year has been receivers dropping balls and the defense not clicking for four quarters in each contest.

Last week, the defense looked as good as it has all season, and the added dimension of the run threat took a lot of pressure off of Tagovailoa and the receivers.

Going into the matchup against the Spartans, I thought all of the cars stacked in Thompson’s favor to win big.

This week, it may be a closely contested game, which I expect, but I still think the Warriors hold an advantage because of their improvement each week, and specifically because they are playing their best football of the season.

If they are going to live up to that expectation that I have, the offense will either have to score it’s most points of the season, or the defense will have to prove it truly has turned the page against the best offense in the state.

Hewitt, despite the 17 points against Mountain Brook, is averaging 40 points per game and has scored 38-plus points in seven of its nine games this season, including four games in the 40s and two in the 50s.

While Thompson’s defense has struggled against good offenses this season, giving up 45 in a loss to Hoover, 21 to Oak Mountain and 20 to Vestavia Hills, the defense is also on par with where the Warriors have been the last couple of years giving up just 13.4 points per game.

Thompson has given up seven points or less in five of eight games this season, including two shutouts.

Hewitt-Trussville’s defense, however, is giving up more than a touchdown more at 21.3 points per game, which could give a potent Thompson offense a slight advantage, but the Huskies have given up 20 or less in their last five games.

It’ll be interesting to see the game plan from each team Friday night, but don’t be surprised if Thompson tries to do a similar thing to the game against Mountain Brook by trying to control the line of scrimmage up front on both sides of the ball with physicality.

With people expecting to see the two quarterbacks be let loose in front of the TV cameras, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thompson head coach Mark Freeman have a more balanced attack, which would benefit the Warriors should they score a couple of early touchdowns to take a lead.

It’s a matchup that has been hyped up over the last two years with Hewitt quarterback Paul Tyson and Tagovailoa both being committed to Alabama, and wowing people when the two met in 7-on-7 competitions the last two summers.

Now we finally get to see the two teams square off against one another, and it has the potential to be an instant classic should each play as well as expected.

Prediction: Thompson 42, Hewitt-Trussville 35