Warriors Impose Will on Rebels, Advance to State Semifinals
The Thompson Warriors are headed back to the semifinals of Class 7A for a seventh consecutive year.
Mark Freeman and his squad took on the Vestavia Hills Rebels for a second time this season, but turned a close contest into a comfortable win once again. All a part of the game plan.
“For whatever reason, we needed to get to halftime and make a couple of adjustments,” said Freeman. “When we did, we said ‘let’s go score on the first possession and win the game.’ Our plan was to play the first half tight like that and then come out in the second half and do what we do.”
The rematch took on the feeling of the regular season duel to start as both teams punted after short drives—but it wouldn’t stay quiet for long.
Vestavia began their next drive at their own 34 yard line and worked their way into Thompson territory before quarterback John Paul Head took a run from the 42 inside the five yard line for first and goal. Three plays later the Rebels forced their way in to take a 7-0 lead with 6:15 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors immediately responded on the second play of the ensuing drive as Trent Seaborn unleashed a perfect pass to Kolby Hearn who burned his man and dashed for the 72-yard touchdown.
After another stop by the defense Seaborn and AJ Green traded runs to get back into Vestavia territory. The run set up the pass beautifully as Seaborn hit a streaking Angel Jones on a crossing route who angled around the coverage and tip toed the sideline for a 33-yard score and Thompson’s first lead, 14-7.
It was the Rebels’ turn to return fire, matched Thompson’s score with a nine play, 80-yard drive and capped it off with an identical 33-yard touchdown on a play action pass.
The two quarterbacks went a combined 11-12 for 233 yards and 82 yards on the ground, but the defenses shut down the remainder of the half for a 14-14 halftime tie.
Despite a tight first half, the Warriors would wrest control of the game after the break. They would need just 81 seconds on their next possession.
Thompson had the ball first and started quickly with a 22-yard completion to Hearn on first down. Seaborn hit Deuce Oliver next on a 23-yarder across the middle as the offense moved into Rebel territory. They turned to Green next for rushes on three of the next four plays rolling up 31 yards including a 13-yard touchdown run to give Thompson the lead for good.
The defense was masterful in their halftime adjustments holding Vestavia to just 85 yards of offense in the second half and 0-6 on third down.
Vestavia was able to stifle a couple of the Warriors’ drives, but that only server to let John McGuire show off his leg connecting on 25 and 30-yard field goals in the third and fourth quarters.
Seaborn found Colben Landrew from 29 yards out halfway through the fourth to end the night on a sweet note. The freshman QB finished 15-20 for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns. AJ Green rolled up 155 of total offense with a touchdown. Kolby Hearn led the receiver corps with 114 yards on three receptions and a touchdown. Angel Jones went for 63 yards and a TD with Deuce Oliver adding 56 yards on seven catches.
The win pits Thompson against Hewitt-Trussville in the state semifinals for the first time in the history of their rivalry. The Warriors will host the Huskies Friday, Nov 24 at 7 p.m.