Thompson’s Mark Freeman named Coach of the Year by National High School Coaches Association

Published 11:08 am Friday, February 2, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

Thompson coach Mark Freeman added another major award to his resume as the National High School Coaches Association awarded him with its Coach of the Year award.

The award was presented by the NHSCA’s Hall of Fame. Freeman received the award at a ceremony hosted at Thompson High School from Thompson High School Director of Athletics Vincent Pitts, who previously served as an assistant coach under Freeman.

“As a former assistant coach for coach Freeman and current administrator, professional colleague and friend, I am honored to help impress upon the community, state and national audience Mark Freeman’s worthiness for this Coach of the Year award,” Pitts said. “Coach Freeman is a man of great faith and integrity and has established and upheld a high standard of excellence within every single coaching duty.”

The award comes on the heels of an 11-2 season for the Warriors in 2023 where they reached the Class 7A state championship game for the sixth straight season.

He overcame losing multiple FBS players on defense and built a defensive unit which allowed just 11.0 points per game.

He also had to build up a new offensive line which helped protect quarterback Trent Seaborn in his first full season as a starter and enabled a veteran backfield of AJ Green and Michael Dujon.

The Warriors rebounded from a tight 36-33 loss to eventual Class 6A champion Clay-Chalkville midway through the season to make another dominant run to the Super 7, defeating top-10 sides Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville en route to their battle with undefeated Central-Phenix City in the state title game.

In his nine seasons with Thompson, he has amassed a 94-20 record and a 24-3 record in the playoffs in addition to his four Class 7A state championships and four region titles in Class 7A, Region 3, which is considered one of the most difficult regions in the nation.

Those four state championships came in consecutive seasons from 2019 through 2022 and included a 14-0 season in 2020 and a 13-1 record in 2021. It was the second-longest streak in the history of the state.

Freeman is currently tied for the most football state championships in Alabama history with 10 championships across his AHSAA and AISA career. He won two Class 5A state championships with Spanish Fort in 2012 and 2013 after starting his career with four AISA football championships at his alma mater of Bessemer Academy.

He has won at least a share of the Shelby County Coach of the Year award in each of the last seven seasons for his run with the Warriors.

“As evidenced by his resume, he has been successful on many courts, fields and in many arenas,” Pitts said. “I appreciate his willingness to demand the very best and hold everyone accountable to a high standard of excellence. We appreciate his hard work and dedication to Thompson football, and I am certainly glad he is our coach.”