The Vestavia Hills Rebels travel to Thompson to play the Warriors in a key Class 7A, Region 3 matchup Friday night at Warriors Stadium. Both teams come into the game undefeated, with Vestavia Hills getting a 43-0 win over Homewood, while Thompson had to cancel their game against IMG Academy due to hurricane travel in Florida last week.
Vestavia Hills (2-0) is scoring many points early with the fast-paced offensive attack that the Rebels like to play. The Rebels have scored 78 points in two games and have one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the state. John Paul Head can run the ball or throw it and can't be tackled with an arm tackle because he will run right through them. He reminds me of a rugby player who just stays on his feet and can push a pile in close-yardage situations. The senior QB has completed 22-of-30 passes for 331 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception. Also, Head has rushed for 161 yards on 32 carries and four touchdowns in two games. Head averages 245 yards per game, and he will need another big game to pull out a Rebels win.
Last season, the Rebels had to rely on Head, but more weapons on offense have emerged steadily this season. Running backs William Tonsmeire, Caden Taylor, and Maximus Littleton will get carries. Tonsmeire leads that group with 196 yards on 21 carries, averaging 9.3 yards per carry.
At wide receiver, Keown Richardson can get a short pass and turn it into a long touchdown or blow by a defender for a long pass completion. He can high-point the ball with the best of them, making it hard on a shorter defensive back. Richardson had eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. Also, Jay Daniels, Cooper Mollison, and Carson Mann add to the Rebels receiving group. Daniels is a good receiver who can move the sticks and get you that big first down to keep a drive alive. When the Rebels bring in the big package, they have a play where defensive end Jordan Ross can sneak out for a pass. The five-star lineman has a touchdown reception against Mountain Brook this season. A few weeks ago, the Tennessee commitment was a huge pickup for the Vols.
The offensive line has a limited amount of returning experience but is gaining valuable experience in their first two games of the season. John David Livingston is the lone returning starter from last season. Landon Page, Hill Hughen, Ford Brown, and Caleb Boylan get the start for the Rebels.
The defense has played well in the Rebels first two wins. With Ross on the line are Chuck Hammack, Harrison Foust, and William Plaisance. Ross makes it hard on opposing offensive lines because he lines up everywhere to gain that pass rush advantage and you better know where he is at all times.
The linebackers are Jacob Watson and Grayson Bruno. Defensive backs Bo Shea, Spence Hannah, Cross Tonsmeire, and Larry McSwayne do a great job on the defense's back end. Owen Simpson handles the kicking duties for the Rebels.
To start the season, the Thompson Warriors (1-0) defeated Opelika 44-13 in the Kickoff Classic at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. The Warriors were supposed to play IMG Academy last week, but the game was canceled and not be made up.
Freshman quarterback sensation Trent Seaborn has been the starter from Zach Sims, who was hurt late in the regular season last year and hasn't given up the starting job. Seaborn completed 20-of-26 passing for 246 yards and two touchdowns against Opelika. Seaborn has a quick release on the football and throws the deep pass with a great touch. He will stay in the pocket as long as he needs to make the throw on any pass play. He's a great pocket passer with a strong arm. Sims could get some playing time as he did in the season's first game.
The Warriors have a stable of running backs. AJ Green can do tackle-to-tackle with the best of them. He is a strong runner who can eat up yards at the end of the game. Michael Dujon can run it out of the backfield or can be used in the passing game. Junior Camron Wells is another running back who will get playing time.
The receiving core at Thompson has been excellent ever since the arrival of head coach Mark Freeman. Deuce Oliver has great hands, is very shifty, and runs excellent routes. He had nine receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown in game one. Kolby Hearn, Tyler Hicks, and Colben Landrew round out the receivers. Landrew has division one offers in basketball. Hearn played significant playing time last season. He had five receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown against Opelika.
The offensive line of Barron Criddle, Sam Cunningham, Kingley Walters, Matthew Speights, and center Dylan Marquess is coming together for Thompson. They have little experience, and they will be tested with Ross trying to put pressure on Seaborn.
The Thompson defense had two of the best in high school football the last two years in Jeremiah Alexander (Alabama) and Peter Woods (Clemson). Freeman called them generational players, and he was fortunate to have two of them, but both are gone. Defensive lineman Caleb Ballard leads the way up front for Thompson. Not only is Ballard a run-stopper, but he can rush the passer. Matthew Heard, Noah Streeter, and Hayden McDonald round out the defensive line.
Linebacker Trent Cheatom leads the way for the Thompson defense. He had seven tackles in his first game of the season. Vini Pires, Tyler Hicks, and Jayden Davis round out the linebackers for Thompson. Hicks added six tackles in his first game.
The secondary is very versatile. Safety Kaleb Harris can play deep or come up and play the line with the best of them. Harris was all over the field again, Opelika with five tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss in the game. Corner Anquon Fegans is the best corner in the 2025 class. No one likes to throw to his side for good reason. Payton Lewis and Jaiden Brown add to an outstanding defense.
John McGuire handles most of the kicking duties for the Warriors.
A big key in this game will be the offensive lines for both teams. Vestavia Hills will want to run the ball, and Thompson will use their quick passing game to loosen up the Rebels defense.