Warriors, Red Devils Meet in 7A Championship Rubber Match
The Thompson Warriors will clash with the Red Devils of Central-Phenix City for the third time in the last four years in Birmingham’s brand new Protective Stadium in the venue’s first time hosting the AHSAA’s Super 7 Championships, Wednesday December 1st.
It will be Thompson’s fourth straight trip to the 7A championship as they hope to take the title for the third straight year. Mark Freeman and the Warriors are 12-1 this season going into the match and have gone 51-4 in the last four years in their string of title game appearances. This will be Freeman’s chance for the 9th state title in his career coaching high school football in Alabama.
The Warriors are headlined by a powerful offense and defense this year arguably better than any group before them. Thompson set a school record last year scoring 604 points, going 14-0 in their run to a second consecutive championship and this years squad has a chance to top that number. Through 13 games, these Warriors have scored 598 points at 46 points per game.
The offensive unit is led by defending 7A Back of the Year and North Carolina commit quarterback Conner Harrell who has amassed over 6,000 career passing yards in his two seasons at the helm of Freeman’s offense. His 42 passing touchdowns in 2020 are a school record and he also has a chance to break his own record as he currently sits with 39 passing touchdowns this year.
Max Prep’s Preseason All-American senior receiver and Utah commit Ryan Peppins has been Harrell’s steady target these last two years putting together back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons receiving in that span. Peppins tied Michael Pettway’s record of 18 total touchdowns last year and has already broken that mark compiling 21 touchdowns this season to go with a personal record 1,161 yards on 71 receptions.
Shawn Defoor’s defense has more than exceeded expectations this year for Thompson. His unit is allowing just 5.9 points per game, posting five shutouts and holding every opponent this year, except one, to ten points or fewer. The defense and special teams have scored touchdowns in seven different games this season, set a team record with 142 tackles for loss and has already broken the state record for punts forced in a season with 88 going into the championship.
The defense is headlined by reigning 7A Lineman of the Year and Alabama commit, linebacker Jeremiah Alexander who has put together a legendary career at Thompson with 99.5 tackles for loss and 37.5 sacks as a four year starter for Defoor. In 2020, Alexander set the school record with 31 tackles for loss. Junior defensive end Peter Woods is also enjoying a career year with 23 tackles for loss and 10 sacks—more than his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.
The Warriors face off against an undefeated, 13-0 Central-Phenix City club coached by Patrick Nix in his second season with the Red Devils. Nix went 8-5 last year, but advanced to the state semifinals against Auburn. Nix has won two state titles in his career, both being with Pinson Valley in 2017 and 2018.
The Red Devil’s offense may be the best in school history having scored 564 this year at 43.4 points per game and has a chance to top the school record of 578. Central’s defense is coming into Wednesday’s championship game allowing 13.5 points per game.
The game is set to kick off at Protective Stadium at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on the NFHS Network, through its partner WOTM TV. The production will be live-streamed as well and will be archived on the NFHS Network platform. Fans can also listen to a live radio broadcast on warriornationnetwork.org.