The Thompson High football team spent the past few days preparing for Friday night’s Class 7A Region 3 game against visiting Spain Park. The week before, though, the focus was simply on getting better.
The Warriors haven’t played since whitewashing Tuscaloosa County, 35-0, on Sept. 21. A bye week followed for a Thompson team that won four of its first five games.
“It fell at a good time for us,” said Thompson head coach Mark Freeman.
Rest was a big part of the week off for the Warriors. Freeman gave his team Monday and Friday off and the practice sessions in the middle of the week were shortened and less strenuous. Thompson High position coaches worked with their players for about an hour on those days and there was no work with the entire team together.
“We did that to rest the kids and rest the coaches,” Freeman said. “I think we all rejuvenated and ready to go.”
Rest was just part of the plan. A bunch of self-evaluation was also an important part of the week.
“We spent the whole week working on ourselves and the deficient areas we thought we had,” Freeman said. “I think we got better. I really feel like we found reasons why we felt like we were deficient in those areas. This week, we had a really good physical week. There is no reason not to expect our kids to play good (against Spain Park).”
Two of the most critical areas in Thompson’s work last week were finding ways to become more physical on the offensive front and working with the receivers on becoming more consistent with catching the football.
In some ways, though, that was just a start.
“If you’re really playing well, you can’t wait to play the next Friday,” Freeman said. “ I think, for us, we were winning but we weren’t winning in a good, clean polished way. It was not to our expectations. Our last win was a 35-0 win, but you can’t be complacent. Winning feels good but there were some things we weren’t very good at.”
The best way to gauge the improvements will come on Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
Spain Park enters the game seeking to break a four-game losing streak and win a region game for the first time this season. The Jaguars (1-4 overall, 0-3 Region 3) have dropped just one lopsided decision. Hewitt-Trussville beat Spain Park, 44-13, on Sept. 21. Other than that, though, the Jaguars have been close in every game.
Just like with Thompson, the Jaguars looked to get better while taking last week off. One thing that didn’t change was the fact that outstanding running back Jalen Henderson will continue to fuel the offense.
Freeman feels it will be a motivated bunch on the visiting sideline.
“They do a good job, their kids play hard,” Freeman said. “They are Spain Park, they don’t think they should ever lose to Thompson High School. They’ll come over here and our kids have to play good to do well.”