By Bobby Mathews, sports editor
TRUSSVILLE — Squint a little, and the story of David and Goliath might fit.
Friday night, September 17, two of the top teams in Alabama will face off when Hewitt-Trussville travels to Alabaster to face off against Thompson.
In this analogy, Thompson High School, a giant of a program that’s won two straight 7A state football championships, is Goliath. They are ranked No. 1 in the state, and it’s easy to see why.
This is a team that has given up exactly three points over the course of the 2021 season so far.
The Warriors have bludgeoned their foes, racking up a pair of 55-0 wins against Oxford and Sparkman to open the season, and then a 58-0 drubbing of Tuscaloosa County. In the fourth game of the season, Spain Park was able to hold Thompson under 50 points, and was able to score against them in a 49-3 loss.
Thompson is, in a word, impressive. At least at first blush.
But it is, perhaps, time to question how good the Warriors actually are. Of the four programs they have beaten, not a single one has a winning record. Oxford and Sparkman are both 2-2, while Tuscaloosa County and Spain Park are both 1-3.
Contrast that with Hewitt-Trussville, who defeated the reigning 6A state champions, Pinson Valley, to start the season. Saraland, vanquished in the second game of the season, is 2-2. And then there are the common opponents, Tuscaloosa County and Spain Park.
With both teams 4-0, No. 4-ranked Hewitt can argue that its resume is equally impressive, with a victory over an excellent state championship team.
Thompson is, understandably, favored to win. But if Hewitt-Trussville is David in this analogy, then David’s got some serious weaponry.
Offensively, Cade Ott Carruth must come through on Friday night. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1,006 yards through four games, with seven touchdowns and one interception. He has two receivers with FBS-level ability in Omari Kelly and Jordan McCants.
McCants averages 15.9 yards a catch and can be explosive with the ball in his hands. Kelly, who averages 14.7 yards a catch, is the Huskies’ big-play threat either receiving or running. The pair have three touchdowns each, while Kelly has added a score on the ground as well. Ryan Shoop averages 12.8 yards a catch and has one score.
The rushing game is powered by James Hammonds, who is averaging 112.5 yards per game on the ground. He’s rushed for six scores and caught another.
Defensively, the Huskies are led by Justice Finkley, who has 13 solo tackles and 23 total tackles through four games. Finkley is averaging a sack a game, and has caused one fumble and recovered another. Hunter Osborne has 9 solo tackles, 14 total tackles and a sack. Tyrel Averhart, a sophomore, had two sacks in the Huskies’ victory over Tuscaloosa County and three on the season.
As obsessed (and rightly so) over Finkley and the rest of the defensive line as most offensive coaches are, that opens up huge opportunities for Hunter Jones at linebacker. Jones has 23 solo tackles and 33 overall, and has recovered one fumble. Bam White is flying under the radar, but he’s having a strong senior season, with 23 solo tackles and 32 overall, with 1.5 sacks so far, an interception as well as causing a fumble.
K.J. Jackson and Connor Thomas will have to be on their game against a prolific Thompson attack.
Does Hewitt-Trussville measure up to Thompson? Friday night will tell the tale. In 2020, the Huskies gave Thompson their most competitive game of the season, a 35-21 heartbreaker in Trussville. The year before, the Huskies knocked off the eventual state champs, 35-29 in the only game the Warriors have lost in two-and-a-half years.