Warriors Stonewall Huskies in Rematch, Will Play for 5th Straight State Title
The Thompson Warriors have earned the right to play for their sixth consecutive state championship.
The Huskies of Hewitt-Trussville posed a respectable threat, taking the first lead of the game, but the Warriors answered on both sides of the ball with the defense putting the clamps on their region rival to advance to the class 7A state championship, 21-10. After the game, head coach Mark Freeman spoke about his team’s response to being down early.
“We just needed to get our composure,” said Freeman. “And we’re getting better. We’re young in a couple of spots, and we had to regain our composure at halftime. We talked about last week, it was 14-14. This week, it’s 14-10. ‘Let’s go play a second half, just like we played last week.’ And I thought we did.”
Hewitt started hot out of the gate, quickly moving the ball into the red zone. The Warrior defense stiffened, however, as senior linebacker Tyler Hicks knifed through the line, caught the Huskies behind the line of scrimmage and dislodged the ball in the process. Hewitt recovered, but the drive was over as they settled for a 25-yard field goal.
The Husky defense made plays early as well, turning Thompson over on consecutive possessions—first on a forced fumble, then on a fourth down stop in their own territory as neither team scored the rest of the quarter.
After the turnover on downs, HTHS put together an efficient, methodical drive. They are run game got them back in the red zone are and a Thompson penalty gave them a third and goal on the 2 yard line. From there, Hewitt quarterback for Floyd ran it in himself for a 10-0 lead with 8:37 to go in the first half.
The early ten point deficit stunned the home crowd at Warrior Stadium, but Freeman and the offense were ready to respond.
Senior safety Kaleb Harris gave the offense an assist with a great kickoff return up the left sideline to the 45 yard line. A couple of runs from AJ. Green got the Warriors back into Husky territory and drew the defense in enough for Trent Seaborn to hit Deuce Oliver for 24 yards on the fourth play of the drive. Oliver would take a stretch play around the left end for 11 more yards to give Thompson a first and goal on the five yard line. Two Hewitt penalties put the ball on the one and Green plowed across the goal line to put the Warriors on the board, 10-7.
The defense began to feed off the offense and vice versa. Floyd slipped and fell for an easy sack on first down and Kaleb Harris unleashed a big hit on a third down pass attempt to force a punt from the Huskies.
A short punt and a good return from Oliver gave Thompson their best field position of the night from the 38 yard line of Hewitt. A few more runs from Green opened the pass back up and Seaborn found Kolby Hearn at the 12 yard line to put the Warriors squarely in the red zone. Two plays later Seaborn would call his own number for a ten yard touchdown on a quarterback draw up the gut to give Thompson its first lead, 14-10, that they would take into halftime.
Special teams would play a big part again in Thompson’s first drive of the second half. This time with junior safety Anquon Fegans returned the opening kickoff to the 44 yard line. A third down conversion to Deuce Oliver and a 15 yard run from AJ Green landed the Warriors right back in the red zone. Two plays later Green broke through again for a one yard touchdown and the game’s final score.
Hewitt-Trussville came into the game averaging 38 points per game, but were only able to muster 24 in two meetings with Thompson this year. Anquon Fegans sealed the second half shutout with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
Coach Freeman wanted his team to savor the moment after the game. In the expanse of a long football season, it’s easy to let the business-like approach to the game steal some of the joy the game brings.
“We’re going to enjoy this for a little bit. I think we lost some of the enjoyment this week and we got to enjoy this one for a little bit 24 hours and go get ready. But when we go to Tuscaloosa, we’ll have our team ready to play the best game we can play and go get after it.”
The win takes the Warriors back to Bryant-Denny Stadium where they will go for their fifth straight title and face off with the Central-Phenix City Red Devils in the championship for the fourth time in the last six years. The Warriors are 2-1 in the title game versus the Red Devils, including their last two meetings in 2021 and 2019. The game is set for Wednesday, December 6 at 7 p.m.