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Thompson downs Hoover, headed to 3rd straight state championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors will get a chance to defend their Class 7A State Championship in 2020. Thanks to a 52-14 victory against region rival Hoover in the semifinals at Warrior Stadium on Friday, Nov. 20, the Warriors earned a trip to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, Dec. 2, where they’ll look to repeat as champions.

“I’m blessed with great, great players,” head coach Mark Freeman said. “Our coaches have done an incredible job. It’s been an unusual year, but every morning, we wake up and thank God we are playing. I give God all the glory that we’ve played this season and just happy and very, very, very blessed to be in this situation.”

Thompson’s entire goal coming into the 2020 season was to get back and have a chance to win a second consecutive championship, and the Warriors knew the challenge that would bring, but also the effort it would take. And against the Buccaneers in the semifinals, that effort was on full display right out of the gate.

The Warriors came out and scored on their first four drives of the game, while the defense matched that effort by not allowing a point during that early stretch.

On the opening drive, Thompson went 80 yards in a quick seven plays, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run from Jarrett Crockett, which gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead in the first 1:13 of the game.

Thompson’s defense then pushed the Bucs backward and blocked a punt to set the offense back up in great field position, which they capitalized on.

Just a few plays later, receiver J.B. Mitchell tried his hand at running the ball, and powered his way in for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with less than six minutes winding off the clock.

Then, after another defensive stop, the Warriors went right back to work with Crockett scoring from 4 yards out to make it 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

Thompson’s defense again pushed Hoover back on the ensuing drive, and the Bucs punted it right back to an offense firing on all cylinders.

The Warriors scored again in less than two minutes, and again it was Crockett. He ran from the left hash mark, all the way past the right hash mark, before darting back to his left to a wide open field to score on a 10-yard touchdown run and give the Warriors a 28-0 lead.

Hoover eventually scored on a long touchdown run on the ensuing drive to make it 28-7, but Thompson added a last-second field goal from Trevor Hardy to extend it to 31-7 at the half.

Thompson outgained Hoover 248-66 in the first half, while Crockett did so by himself with 121 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

“I’m proud of the way our kids came out and competed tonight and the way they played early in the game,” Freeman said. “We played good, and that was a great program with a great tradition (we were playing).”

Coming out in the second half, Hoover showed what Freeman was speaking of when the Bucs scored on the first drive of the second half after two straight penalties ended with a 43-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-14.

But Thompson’s scoring lull didn’t last long and Hoover never did find the end zone again.

The Warriors went on to score 21 more points in the half on a 7-yard touchdown run from Sam Reynolds, a 36-yard touchdown pass from Conner Harrell to Ryan Peppins and a 24-yard touchdown run from Ahmari Bolden to close out the 52-14 win.

Thompson outgained Hoover 452-172 for the game. Crockett finished with 226 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries to lead Thompson, while Harrell finished 10-16 for 137 yards with two touchdowns passing. Peppins finished with 104 receiving yards on six receptions.

Now, the Warriors will take on Auburn in the state championship game hoping to repeat as state champions following last year’s 40-14 win against Central-Phenix City.

“All we know is win now, we’ve built that mindset since day one, so that’s our mindset with everything we do,” Harrell said.

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