After a recent Thompson Warriors football practice, wide receiver Ahmad Harris-Edwards rested on the home team’s bench at Larry Simmons Stadium while talking about his final high school football season. He glanced to his left and nodded toward his cousin, Mo Edwards, who is also a key part of high-flying Warriors offense.
“It’s always been our dream to play side by side,” Harris-Edwards said.
In this case, a dream come true has been a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Through six games, no defense has stopped – or even slowed down – Thompson High quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and the Warriors’ passing attack. Obviously, Tagovailoa, who has thrown for 1,848 yards and 16 touchdowns, is a big reason, but it helps that he is throwing to one of the top pass catching duos in the state.
Harris-Edwards has 65 catches for 903 yards with four touchdowns. He averages 11 catches and 150 yards per game. Edwards has 25 catches for 429 yards with a team-best seven touchdown receptions.
As good at those numbers are – and they are really good – both could have added more. Both often sit out for large chunks of the second half because of lopsided leads. The unbeaten Warriors began the season with a 21-20 win over Hapeville Charter of Georgia but won the other five games by an average of 32 points per game. The running game also eats up large chunks of yardage – 186 yards per game – and has contributed 19 touchdowns.
“I think, No. 1, they’re both unselfish,” said Thompson High head coach Mark Freeman. “They understand that they help each other. The more our running game is a big part of this offense, they better off they will be.”
The two cousins hadn’t played on the same team since t-ball. Edwards, the bigger of the two at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, is in his third season on the Thompson varsity. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Harris-Edwards attended Montevallo before enrolling at Thompson for his senior year.
Harris-Edwards said he relied on his cousin to get him quickly up to speed on the Warriors’ offense.
“I feel really comfortable,” Edwards said. “At first, there was different stuff (Coach Freeman would) bring out every week. Everything is based on something that I’ve learned these past few years. I kind of got with (Ahmad) off the field to help him out.”
Freeman said both receivers have allowed him to do more things within the offense.
“Both are smart football players,” Freeman said. “The big key is I can move them around. In the past, we’ve had really good receivers, but we couldn’t move them around. Mo has been with us for three years. I can take Mo and put him anywhere. Now, Ahmad is learning to go inside and outside.”
Both have displayed the ability to play college football but the recruiting process has been slow. As of last week, Edwards had a couple of scholarship offers but Harris-Edwards had not received any. Perhaps one reason that the recruiting process has not heated up yet for Harris-Edwards was he missed his junior season after breaking his leg in Montevallo’s 2016 season opener.
“I was going up for a ball, I tried to split two guys and just came down wrong,” Harris-Edwards said of the injury. “It just broke. It was very frustrating. I got down a lot. But, I had guys like my boy Mo, he came and saw me, talked me up and got me to feel better.”
Freeman acknowledged that slowed the recruitment for Harris-Edwards but still has a firm belief that both could be college football standouts.
“Yes, they are both college football players and I’d put my name on the line for both of them,” Freeman said. “They’re competitors, they’re already qualified, they’re hard workers. My phone has been ringing the last couple of weeks for them. Somebody is going to look up and steal them, and they’re going to be stars.”
Both shrug when asked about recruiting and, almost in unison, say the most important thing right now is working toward making this a special season for the Warriors.
“Sometimes you think about it, but you have to put the team first and yourself last,” Edwards said. “Ever since I first stepped on this field this year, I’ve felt the energy. Everybody wants to get better every day. Everybody wants to reach the ultimate goal. We got to go day-by-day to get better.”