The Thompson Warriors, winners of the AHSAA Class 7A Championship in 2019, look to repeat their championship run in the 2020 season.
Thompson, now with two state championships, defeated Central-Phenix 40-14 at Jordan-Hare Stadium last year and have a lot of returning pieces on the 2020 roster.
On offense, the Warriors have returners but need to replace a few key players off the championship team. The Warriors had two outstanding quarterbacks the last few years and will come into this year with two inexperienced quarterbacks. Junior Connor Harrell and senior Cade Golden are getting early reps in the fall.
Harrell looks like he might be the starter to start the season. "We are just learning some stuff and we are very basic," said Warriors Head coach Mark Freeman. "We have two new quarterbacks. Connor and Cade are getting reps right now. We have to see what they can handle and not overload them in the first two weeks. We will add a little more each week to when get into region play and that will be who we are."
The Warriors have two good ones at running back. Jarrett Crockett returns after a solid season last year. Crockett rushed for 624 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Look for Crockett to get more touches in the air with his good speed and good hands out of the backfield this season. The second part of the one-two punch is strong runner Brandon Franklin. Franklin is the big back that has the power to run through tackles and to get in the short yardage situations.
A lot of talent at receiver for the Warriors. J.B. Mitchell and Tre Roberson have a lot of experience and talent. Mitchell had 677 yards on 53 receptions and eight touchdowns while Roberson had 415 yards on 32 receptions and seven touchdowns. Mitchell has 19 offers that include Eastern Michigan, Georgia Southern, Grambling, Murray State, Navy, South Alabama and Samford. Roberson recently committed to Army. Look for Sam Reynolds to be in the slot position at receiver with great speed. Reynolds verbally committed to South Carolina. Ryan Peppins will be another receiver with great speed.
The offensive line will need to be good to give their new quarterbacks time to operate. Tackles Anthony Butler and Anthony Kilborn are good one for the Warriors. Michael Specht, Connor Howard and sophomore Noah Watts round out the offensive line for the Warriors.
The Warriors defense has a lot of experience and talent. This will be one of the top defenses in 7A in 2020.
Alabama commitment Jeremiah Alexander will move from his defensive end position to linebacker but don't be surprised to see Alexander along in the pass rush at times. Rivals list Alexander the fifth best player in the class of 2022. The junior LB had 118 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks last season. Right beside him is Jax Van Zandt. The junior linebacker had 79 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss a season ago. Van Zandt has an offer from North Texas. Nate Riddle and Ahmari Bolden will round out the linebackers.
The defensive line is very good. "Our defense has a lot of versatile players that like to play together, " said Warriors DL Peter Woods. "We have a lot of experience and maturity coming back so I'm excited to see how we play our first game. We have done a good job of communicating in our position groups and I think it will payoff this season." Woods has 29 offers that include Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Ole Miss.
Gregory Green, K'Marion Hambright and Kobe Stewart will join Woods upfront. Green has eight offers including Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, South Alabama and Samford. Hambright is one of the strongest players in the weight room. Stewart has good foot work and is a good pass rusher.
The secondary has a lot of experience. Gavin Shipman returns who had five picks last year. Shipman has offers from Penn, Harding, Marist College, the Colorado School of Mines, Colgate, West Florida, Harvard and Princeton.
Tony Mitchell had 60 tackles and one interception but can play all over the field. EJ Edwards returns and holds an offer from Harding. Add in corners Karsten Haywood and Brandon Holifield to get involved in the Warriors secondary. EJ Edwards and Trevor Hardy will provide much needed depth. Edwards had a couple of interceptions at safety last season.
Thompson opens the season Saturday hosting 2019 6A Champion Oxford in the Go Gold Bowl. Sponsorship dollars will go to support childhood cancer awareness and Children's Hospital of Alabama.