Thompson will take on Opelika in AHSAA Kickoff Classic in Montgomery

Published 1:36 pm Saturday, March 18, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – For the second year in a row, at least one local team will be kicking off the new football season as part of the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.

Last year, Helena took down Chelsea 28-6 on the opening Thursday night of the season, making the Huskies one of the first teams to win a game for the 2022 season.

This time around, it will be four-time defending state champion Thompson taking on Opelika in a battle of Class 7A teams on Friday, Aug. 25. It will be the second time the Warriors have participated in the Montgomery tradition, beating James Clemens 38-7 in 2018.

“We are excited to be returning to the AHSAA Kickoff Classic event in Montgomery,” Thompson head coach Mark Freeman said. “We enjoyed a great experience in 2018 against James Clemens when the Classic was called the “Champions Challenge,” and we look forward to a great experience in August versus Opelika. Coach (Erik) Speakman does a tremendous job, and Opelika has a great program. We appreciate the AHSAA for extending an invitation, and we are blessed to have an opportunity to compete against a great Opelika program within the state of Alabama.”

Thompson will enter the new season fresh off their fourth state championship in a row and will look to kickstart a path toward a fifth consecutive title.

The team will lose some key players, specifically from a defense that was one of the most dominant in the country last year, but the Warriors will also return freshman quarterback Trent Seaborn with as high of expectations as any young quarterback in the country as well as several other offensive playmakers.

Seaborn will also have some top targets back in the passing game and all-around athlete AJ Green back in a running back role.

Defensively, they will have some key pieces back, highlighted by Anquon Fegans, who looked like one of the country’s best defensive backs last year.

Last season, Thompson averaged 29.5 points per game offensively, down for them over recent years, but the Warriors scored 40 in a semifinal win against Hoover and 49 in a dominant championship effort offensively with Seaborn throwing for an AHSAA 7A championship record five touchdowns.

Opelika will enter the season off a 5-5 effort last year that saw the Bulldogs lose five of their last six games in one of the south’s most challenging regions. Opelika lost each game but one by 10 points or less to miss out on the playoffs following a 4-0 start to the season.

Thompson started last season 0-2 and will be looking to avoid a season-opening loss this season, but the Warriors did go on to win seven in a row after that loss and 11 of 12 the rest of the way to claim the title.