Thompson schedules IMG Academy in powerhouse matchup for 2023 season

Published 12:57 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – If you thought the Thompson Warriors were going to shy away from a challenging schedule in 2023 after last year’s 0-2 start against two powerhouse teams, you’d be wrong. After all, they went on to win their fourth state championship in a row from there.

This season, rather than ease they schedule, they’ll get the opportunity to take on one of the most-known powerhouse football teams in the country during the second week of the season when IMG Academy makes its way to Alabaster from Bradenton, Florida.

A nationally-ranked team year-in and year-out, most of the time inside the top 10, IMG typically has one of the deepest rosters of Division I players in the nation.

Thompson, however, has plenty of talent itself and one of the top young quarterbacks in the country.

With that, the challenge is something that the Thompson head coach Mark Freeman thinks will prepare his team to play their best once they jolt into one of the most challenging regions in the country.

“We are excited to welcome IMG to Alabaster,” he said. “This will certainly be a challenging game for our program but an exciting time for our program nationally. I am excited for our community and for our program to compete against IMG and continue competing at a high level nationally.”

Last year, the Warriors opened the season with back-to-back losses to nationally-ranked teams, falling to Buford 38-7 and Lipscomb Academy 24-14 as the offense tried to find a rhythm early in the season with new players.

They went on to reel off seven games in a row after that, before falling to Hoover in the last game of the regular season. From there, however, Thompson won all four playoff games, including a 49-24 win over Auburn in the state championship to claim the title for the fourth year in a row.

This year’s schedule will be no less challenging, as Thompson will open with Opelika in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic in Montgomery on Aug. 25 before hosting IMG a week later on Thursday night, Aug. 31.

They’ll then jump into region play with matchups against Vestavia Hills, Spain Park and Chelsea, with the only road game coming against the Jaguars on Sept. 15.

A non-region matchup with another strong in-state team, Clay-Chalkville, will then split up region play before Thompson finishes its region schedule with road trips to Hewitt-Trussville and Oak Mountain, a home game against Tuscaloosa County and a road matchup with rival Hoover.

“We have a great football schedule for the 2023 season,” Thompson Athletics Director Vincent Pitts said. “We are thrilled to continue enhancing our football schedule with nationally-recognized programs like IMG. Last year, we faced the Buford Wolves in the Freedom Bowl and hosted Lipscomb Academy at Warrior Stadium. These are exciting opportunities for our student athletes, great opportunities for our community and really great football matchups for football fans across the country.”

Thompson was originally set to play Lipscomb Academy this year, but schedules didn’t align, which paved the way for IMG to join Thompson difficult trek toward a fifth title in a row.

Thompson will be led by freshman quarterback Trent Seaborn this season, who has already accumulated more than 10 Division I offers and Zach Sims who also has multiple Division I offers.

In addition to those two athletes, the team also boasts a strong defense, led by class of 2025 five-star defensive back Anquon Fegans and 2024 four-star defensive back Caleb Harris, while Freeman leads the team as a 10-time state champion.

IMG, a 2020 national champion, will also have an impressive defense in the game, led by five-star 2024 defensive lineman David Stone and five-star defensive back Ellis Robinson IV committed to Georgia.

IMG is led on offense by four-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. along with several other highly touted prospects.

Thompson’s full schedule for the 2023 season is below:

2023 Football Schedule
Aug. 25 Opelika @ AHSAA Kickoff Classic Montgomery

Aug. 31 vs. IMG Academy

Sept. 8 vs. Vestavia Hills

Sept. 15 @ Spain Park

Sept. 22 vs. Chelsea

Sept. 29 vs. Clay Chalkville

Oct. 6 @ Hewitt

Oct. 13 @ Oak Mountain

Oct. 20 vs. Tuscaloosa County

Oct. 27 @ Hoover

Nov. 3 Open