The next step in the Thompson Warriors’ quest for a Class 7A Region 3 football title doesn’t come next week against Hoover. No, the next step is Friday night at Larry Simmons Stadium when the Class 7A No. 3 ranked Warriors close the home portion of the regular season schedule with a Region 3 tussle with Huffman High.
One step at a time.
Thompson (7-0 overall, 5-0 Region 3) is fresh off a 40-17 victory that clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2006. Reaching double digits in wins, for the first time since 1987, and finishing unbeaten, for the first time since finishing in Larry Simmons’ final season as head coach in 1982.
All of that is important. All of that also takes a backseat to Friday night’s game against a dangerous Huffman team. Huffman’s lone Region 3 victory came against Tuscaloosa County and the Vikings pushed Spain Park two weeks ago before dropping a 35-26 decisions. Last week, Hoover dominated Huffman, 3
Mark Freeman’s Warrior team has done a great job all season of focusing on each step toward realizing some lofty goals. The defense is playing a key role, even though most of the headlines go to quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and the prolific offense.
Linebackers Jalen Rayam (90 tackles, 18 tackles for loss), K.J. Robertson (77 tackles, 8 tackles for loss) and Will Connor (75 tackles, 9 tackles for loss) are always around the football. But the Warriors have received defensive contributions all over the field.
Senior Mackie McNeal (49 tackles, 4 tackles for loss) and junior Eric Mizell (23 tackles, 2 tackles for loss) are the anchors up front. Myles Brown (53 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 9 pass deflections) is one of the best safeties in the state. Cornerback Jalen Bustamante is a versatile defender with 41 tackles and 11 pass deflections.
On Friday night, Thompson will also honor a senior class that played an integral role in turning the football program around.