Seaborn lights up Florence as Thompson earns shutout win in first round

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Any worries about a slow start to the postseason for the Thompson Warriors were quickly and emphatically put to rest as the Warriors took a 42-0 win over the Florence Falcons in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Warrior Stadium.

“I thought we played better,” Thompson coach Mark Freeman said. “The last two games of the year, I don’t know what our mental state was, but we had a great week of practice, and just asked our kids grow up and take care of their job. I was proud of the way we played tonight. We made some mistakes and weren’t perfect, but I think we played a lot better from an energy standpoint.”

Trent Seaborn’s phenomenal first half performance helped power the offense to a 35-0 lead at halftime, as he went 25-for-29 passing for 343 yards and four total touchdowns, including three passing and one rushing, and the defense pitched a shutout to keep the Falcons at bay.

After a sluggish performance against Hoover two weeks ago, the Warriors came out of the gate on fire as Seaborn and the offense quickly got down the field and scored on a 38-yard pass to Michael Dujon.

Florence opened its first drive with a 26-yard pass, but the Warriors locked down from there and didn’t relent for much of the half on defense. After forcing a punt, Thompson got the ball back and looked to continue setting the tone.

Seaborn and Angel Jones did just that, connecting for a 28-yard touchdown pass after a 27-yard completion earlier in the drive, and Thompson went up 14-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons went backwards on their drive and were forced to punt, setting up the Warriors at midfield. The Thompson offense made short work of the short field as Seaborn hit Deuce Oliver for a touchdown inside the red zone to go up three scores.

Thompson almost got off the field early with a near pick by Noah Hicks, but the Warriors forced another punt and got the ball back. However, an interception downfield in coverage on the first play of the drive gave the ball back to Florence.

Thompson then forced a three-and-out, and after a pair of first downs, the offense tried another downfield shot, but the Falcons punched the ball out and sent it through the end zone for a touchback.

The Warriors kept the pressure going and set up another midfield starting position for the offense. Thompson kept the ball moving and capped off the drive with a punch-in touchdown by Dujon to increase the lead to 28-0 with 3:46 left in the half.
Thompson’s third down defense came up big again and sent Florence backwards for a three-and-out.

With 2:15 to work with, Seaborn and the offense efficiently managed the clock and got the ball to the 2-yard line thanks to AJ Green. Seaborn then capped the drive off himself with a rushing touchdown on a fake handoff at the goal line, and the Warriors took a 35-0 lead into halftime.

With the game in hand, Thompson sent out quarterback Zach Sims for the second half. On the first drive after the defense secured a three-and-out, the offense didn’t miss a beat even after the quarterback change.

Sims led a solid drive that was capped off by a touchdown run inside the 10-yard line by Dujon, and that capped off the scoring with eight minutes left in the third at 42-0.

From there, the Warriors effectively ran out the clock to keep Florence off the field with both Sims and Brooks Byars getting snaps under center.

However, the game was paused for over thirty minutes in the fourth quarter after a Florence player was injured on a punt. He was later loaded into an ambulance and taken from the field, but he waved to the crowd and received cheers and applause from both sidelines after he did.

After the game, Freeman was proud that his defense was back healthy and executed the game plan. He complimented his team working hard in practice and avoiding the mistakes they made against Hoover.

“I think our kids have been around for so long that sometimes they might take things for granted toward the end of the year, and we just can’t do it,” Freeman said. “And we’re growing them up. We’re young, but I was proud of our players and I thought our coaches did a tremendous job of pushing the things in practice over that extra few days we had.”

That extended to the offense and Seaborn, who took Freeman’s advice of using his running backs in the passing game to heart. That helped overcome a relentless Florence blitz that forced the Warriors to be more vertical, and Seaborn rose to the challenge.

Freeman believes facing a tough blitz now will make them better for the weeks to come.

“They did bring a lot of pressure and it was good for us,” Freeman said. “Tonight will be good for us regardless of who we play next week. It was good for us because other teams are going to try and blitz us too, so I was proud of our players. I was proud of Trent, I was proud of our receivers, and I thought our O-line did a tremendous job tonight.”

Both of Thompson’s running backs had over 90 yards receiving, as Green led all Warriors receivers with 98 yards off eight catches while also rushing for 51 yards and Dujon caught seven passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.

In addition, Oliver had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, Jones caught three balls for 56 yards and a touchdown and Kolby Hearn had three receptions for 44 yards.

On defense, Tyler Hicks had three tackles, Quendarius McCall had two tackles and a sack. Trenton McCorvey had a sack and Zamiere Wirt recovered a fumble.

Thompson will face the winner of Friday, Nov. 10’s game between Vestavia Hills and Austin in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A playoffs. The game will take place on Nov. 17 at Warrior Stadium.