A successful summer of 7 on 7 competition for the Thompson High football program continued this weekend when the Warriors took home the title in the Foley Showdown.
It was just the latest successful tournament for the Warriors this summer. The Warriors lost in the championship game at Auburn University and won the championship at the University of Alabama. This weekend’s victory came without standout quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who was competing with some of the elite high school recruits in the country at The Opening in Frisco Texas.
Junior Sawyer Pate took over at quarterback this weekend and directed the Warriors to a 4-1 record in pool play. The Warriors moved through the double-elimination championship bracket without a loss and had secured a spot in the championship game before stormy weather put an end to play. Hewitt-Trussville and McGill-Toolen were playing for the opportunity to play the Warriors when the bad weather hit. The Warriors, who beat both teams in championship bracket play, were declared winners of the tournament.
Earlier this week, Thompson High Mark Freeman talked about how well his team has played this summer. The Warriors were 17-1 in 7 on 7 play heading into this weekend, with the loss coming when a conversion attempt pass failed on the final play against Phenix City Central in the Auburn tournament. This weekend, the Warriors were 7-1 with the lone loss coming when Baldwin County scored in the final play on Friday.
“The kids have worked really hard,” Freeman said. “We’re going to be so young. It’s really a lot of time teaching. We have a lot of kids on defense that have never played. We have three receivers who have never started a game. It can worry you, but you’ve just got to get them ready to go.”
One thing that Freeman and his staff do during 7 on 7 games is keep Will Conner, a recent UAB commitment, and the other linebackers on the field, no matter the situation.
“We’re trying to get our kids better on defense,” Freeman said. “I don’t let them take my inside backers out, a lot of schools play seven DBs. We make Will and other backers stay in there. We don’t sub them, we play them, so I know they’re getting better over there on defense.”
At receiver, the quest is finding a way to replace record setting Ahmad Edwards and Mo Edwards. Junior Michael Pettway is the only returning receiver with significant experience. He’s been the leader, along with senior Kyle Smoak, who has some varsity experience.
“Mike has been getting better and better,” Freeman said. “Smoak’s probably been our MVP the whole summer, I know he was at Auburn. He’s getting better. J.B. Mitchell will be a 10th grader, he’s getting a lot better. We got A.J. Bonham, who played as a ninth grader, and some others. We’ve just got to find some guys over there but Mike and Smoak have just jumped up.”
Freeman said his team might participate in a 7 on 7 tournament on July 12 at Samford. Other than that, though, the focus is changing away from 7 on 7 play.
“It’s going to be a good summer,” Freeman said.