Tagovailoa, Kight, Conner honored as early enrollees
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
ALABASTER – Three superstars for the historic 2018 Thompson football team were honored at a ceremony in front of family, friends, teammates and coaches at the Warriors’ Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, offensive lineman Amari Kight and linebacker Will Conner all sat on stage in front of their peers
“What a blessing for us to be here today and recognize just a few of our great players,” head coach Mark Freeman said. “We are excited that Amari, Will and Taulia will be representing the Thompson Warriors at the next level. These players have worked hard during their careers and today is a celebration of their accomplishments.”
With Alabaster City Schools getting out for Christmas on Wednesday, Dec. 19, the early National Signing Day, and all three expected to enroll early at their respective university, this was the chance for the special athletes to be recognized for all of their hard work and special accomplishments at Thompson before moving on to the next level.
Tagovailoa and Kight will remain teammates at the University of Alabama and are expected to be on campus before the high school’s Christmas break kicks off.
During his senior season, Tagovailoa threw for 3,684 yards and 35 touchdowns to just five interceptions after completing 261 of his 426 passes.
For his Thompson career, Tagovailoa threw for 7,504 yards and 71 touchdowns with the Warriors and just 13 interceptions. He also completed 548 of 861 passes for a completion percentage of 63.6.
In his career, combined between Kapolei High School in Hawaii and Thompson, Tagovailoa amassed 13,577 yards and 135 touchdowns, while his older brother Tua Tagovailoa accounted for 8,158 yards and 84 touchdowns passing in his three years at St. Louis High School in Hawaii.
Taulia Tagovailoa had already surpassed his brother’s three-year total heading into his senior season, showing he will be no drop-off once he gets on campus in Tuscaloosa.
Joining him will be Kight, who has been a big part in Tagovailoa’s success due to his presence on the offensive line.
Standing at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, Kight has basically been a force on Thompson’s offensive line since his freshman season and it earned him a spot as one of the nation’s most sought after offensive line recruits.
Kight not only played a part in Tagovailoa’s successful passing attack, but helped lead the way for running back Shadrick Byrd who totaled 1,403 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground during his senior season. He also allowed Tagovailoa the time to escape and run up field as the quarterback ended his senior season with 416 rushing yards and six additional touchdowns on the ground.
During his final season with the Warriors, Kight totaled 31 pancake blocks and graded over 90 percent for every game this season.
While Will Conner will be taking a different route by going to UAB, the 3-star linebacker has been one of the most underrated players not just in the state but the country as well.
During his senior season alone, Conner totaled 85 unassisted tackles and 50 assisted tackles for a total of 135, while also tallying 14 tackles for loss, four sacks and one interception.
His consistency was also on display, as Conner posted 137 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and five sacks during his junior season bringing his two-year total to 272 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Conner will also join former Thompson linebacker Jalen Rayam on the Blazers’ defense, as the two combined for 280 tackles together during the 2017 football season.
The three standout players were part of a two-year stretch where the Warriors went a combined 23-3, beat Hoover twice (one of which was the first time in school history) and went to their first state championship game in 36 years.
They’ll not only be remembered as three of the best players in the school’s history, but will be remembered for helping rebuild the Thompson football program.
All three have had stellar careers and undoubtedly have memories that will last a lifetime and life experience unlike most.
Photos available here.