Ready to defend: Thompson sinks Hoover, earns chance at 4th straight title
Published 11:58 pm Friday, November 18, 2022
By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter
HOOVER – Despite a 9-0 shutout loss to Hoover to end the regular season, the Thompson Warriors weren’t about to let their shot at a fourth consecutive state championship slip away—a point they proved on Friday night, Nov. 18 in a rematch with the Buccaneers.
To the tune of more than 200 yards on the ground and four interceptions from the defense, the Warriors were physical from the start en route to a dominant 40-10 redemption victory that will send them to the title game for a fifth year in a row.
“I can tell you that God has got all the glory,” Thompson head coach Mark Freeman said. “I’m so proud of our kids tonight, and I’m so proud of our coaches. We took a hit to our pride earlier in the year, and our kids just kept working and working and working. Man, I’ll just say God is good.”
Scoring 24 points before the Buccaneers even had a chance to put points on the scoreboard in the first half, it seemed as though Thompson sealed its fate in getting a fifth straight appearance in the 7A State Championship
“This is football, and these games have always been different,” Freeman said about Hoover and Thompson’s yearly rematches. “You look back over it, and it’s hard to win both games in the season. I think we’ve done it once, and I think Hoover has done it at least once.”
Thompson’s defense was a force to be reckoned with from the beginning. The Warriors set the tone, and they soon gained possession following an interception from Kaleb Harris that turned into a 35-yard field goal from John McGuire that put the Warriors on top 3-0 in the first five minutes.
The Warriors then forced a three-and-out and got possession of the ball right back at their own 29-yard line.
Shortly after, Thompson’s physical offensive line set the tone for the first touchdown of the night when AJ Green carried the ball in the end zone from 1 yard out to make it 10-0 in the blink of an eye.
With a 10-0 lead entering the second quarter, Thompson continued to pick up more momentum before the halftime break.
Thompson gained another touchdown within four minutes of the second quarter with a handoff from Trent Seaborn to Michael Dujon for another 1-yard run resulting in another touchdown as Dujon strutted into Hoover’s end zone untouched for his first of two scores.
It was the Warriors’ battle and they were there to win.
Peter Woods, Jake Ivie, Seth Hampton and many others made their impact felt on the Thompson defense, which limited Hoover from finding any momentum. Every first-half drive for the Buccaneers was halted by the strength of the Warriors’ defense.
Woods totaled two sacks that were crucial to Thompson’s success in the game, while Ivie and Caleb Ballard, with a combined two sacks, made the Warriors’ defense the demise of Hoover’s offense.
In the fleeting minutes of the second quarter, Anquon Fegans jumped the route of a Hoover receiver, dashing in front of the pass attempt, picking it off and rolling with easy 65 yards up the sideline for a pick six that made it 24-0 at the break.
Jumping into action, Anquon brought the ball home before the marching band took the field.
While Thompson touched the ball on two separate possessions before Hoover got its first crack of offense in the second half, the Warriors couldn’t capitalize and Hoover started to show some life.
The Bucs connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass that made the score 24-7 with 6:27 left in the third.
Thompson was forced to punt on its next possession as well, but a great punt from McGuire pinned Hoover deep in its own territory and eventually set up a safety on an Ivie sack.
The Warriors were set to get the ball, but a muffed kick on the return gave it back to Hoover at the 3-yard line.
But Thompson’s defense stood tall again. The Warriors limited Hoover to a field goal to maintain a 26-10 advantage.
Then, Korbyn Williams put an end to the comeback hopes quickly when he ran 75 yards for a Thompson touchdown shortly after Hoover attempted to close the gap between the two teams.
Up 33-10, the Warriors closed the game out with one final interception and a short touchdown run from Dujon to create the 40-10 victory.
Dujon led Thompson with 107 yards and two touchdowns, as the Warriors racked up 247 total rushing yards. Williams had 75 on his one touchdown run, while Green finished with 70.
Woods led the defense with seven tackles, two tackles for loss and two sacks. Hampton finished with two interceptions, while Fegans had the pick six and Harris the one interception as well.
Thompson will now square off with Auburn High School at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Class 7A State Championship on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
“It’s just a blessing and we’re going to have a great game,” Freeman said about Thompson’s upcoming December game. “We’re going to have a great plan going into that game, but the big thing is we’re going to enjoy this win. This game was hard to win. It’s hard to win and thank God we got a couple of days so we can regroup and get ourselves ready, but just thank God for the next trip down to Auburn.”