The timing of Alex Pearman’s foot injury was far from perfect. It came as he prepared for his final season in a Thompson Warriors football uniform and lingered until the games began.
The timing for his full-time return, though, is closer to perfect.
“Obviously, it hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to go, completely, but getting back healthy at the right time of the season is special,” Pearman said. “We’ve got a special chance to do something big here, for sure.”
Thompson head coach Mark Freeman leaves no doubt when measuring what Pearman means to the Warriors’ offensive line.
“He’s kind of like the fire (on our offensive line),” Freeman said. “Amari (Kight) is a great football player but Amari is a quiet leader. Alex is the guy who puts the gas on the fire. To get that fire hot, they look to Alex. He plays at a high level on every snap. I think that is kind of contagious to the rest of them.”
The 6-foot, 240-pound Pearman’s plans for a big senior year were altered during offseason workouts when he fractured a foot. He had surgery to insert a pin into his foot and has been working toward getting healthy ever since. Pearman eased his way into the season, playing against Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain.
His return to the field, however, was put on hold during practice before the Pelham game. He was blocking a teammate during the practice and fractured his foot once again.
“At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was worse than it was,” Pearman said. “It was bad. I couldn’t put a lot of pressure on it.”
He got x-rays on the foot and had what he said the doctors told him was “just a slight fracture.” That was good news. He went to work with Thompson athletic trainer Mike Simpson and the training staff. Two weeks later, Pearman was back on the field.
Now he’s anchoring an offensive line that features Pearman and Kight at the tackle spots. Kight is a 6-foot-5, 285-pound junior, who is one of the state’s top offensive linemen. His college scholarship offers already include teams throughout the SEC, including Alabama and Auburn, as well as other top teams throughout the country.
The rest of the starting offensive line consists of junior center Seth MacMillan, senior right guard Seth Whitlock and senior left guard Clayton Nichols.
“I think they’ve gotten gradually better,” Freeman said of the entire offensive line. “Maybe, not so much week to week, but from the start of the season to now, they’ve gotten a lot better.”
They’ve paved the way for one of the top offensive units in the state. The Warriors are averaging more than 500 yards and 43 points per game.
“When you got Taulia (Tagovailoa), the guys outside and the guys in the backfield, it’s awesome,” Pearman said. “Any play something big could happen. You just love blocking for guys like that. You don’t get a chance like that every day to block for guys like that.”
It’s been a long time since Thompson had the honor of playing in a game with the significance of Friday night’s Class 7A Region 3 title showdown with Hoover at the Hoover Met. Thompson enters with an 8-0 record while Hoover’s lone loss came in the season opener at Georgia power Grayson High.
Pearman realizes the blessing it is to play on a team that is playing for a region title. He was a freshman in 2014 when the Warriors didn’t win a varsity game. He also is happy that he’ll be on the field for Friday night’s game, but won’t forget the lessons he learned while fighting his way back.
“It teaches you about life, nothing is for granted in life,” Pearman said. “Any day could be your last day. That’s what football does for you, in life, it teaches you how to live and really puts you in real life situations out here on the field. At any point in time, your career could be over, your season could be over. You definitely have to come out here to work and take nothing for granted.”