Three-time 7A state champ Thompson will open 2022 with 2 high-profile matchups

Three-time defending Class 7A state champion Thompson will start 2022 with a pair of high-profile matchups against out-of-state teams.

The Warriors will travel to Milton, Ga., for their opener against perennial power Buford, Ga., in the Freedom Bowl. The exact date for that game hasn’t been set, but will be either Aug. 18, 19 or 20.

RELATED: Reigning Mr. Football enters transfer portal

Thompson will then return home to host Lipscomb, Tenn., and high-profile coach Trent Dilfer in Week 2. That matchup likely will be on Saturday, Aug. 27, pending negotiations for a possible national television deal.

“It kind of happens naturally,” athletic director Vince Pitts said of scheduling the first two games. “It’s hard to find anyone who will play us. We always want to keep the great game of football in the state, but when people tell you no, sometimes you have to look outside the state. Coach (Mark) Freeman has a lot of great contacts and, between the two of us, we shook the bushes and found two great opportunities.”

Pitts said both games are two-year contracts. The Warriors have the option of returning to Georgia for the Freedom Bowl again in 2023 if they desire. They definitely will travel to Lipscomb in 2023.

“We really wanted something we could do for two years,” Pitts said. “We didn’t want to have to look for another bunch of opportunities next year as well.”

In addition to Buford and Lipscomb, Thompson will play reigning Class 6A champ Clay-Chalkville at home on Sept. 23 in another high-profile, non-region game. The Class 7A, Region 3 slate includes games against traditional title contenders Hewitt-Trussville (Sept. 30) and Hoover (Oct. 21).

The Freedom Bowl brings together six top high school football teams in the Southeast to compete in three games over three days at Milton High School. Pitts said he is hoping Thompson’s game against Buford will be played on Thursday, Aug. 18, but the matchups haven’t been formally announced yet.

Buford has won 14 state titles in Georgia, including the last three in a row. The Wolves defeated Langston Hughes 21-20 in 2021 to win the Class 6A title and finish the season 14-1 overall. Buford’s Bryant Appling became the first coach in GHSA history to win three state titles in his first three seasons as head coach.

Lipscomb, coached by former NFL QB Dilfer, defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy 27-0 in 2021 to win the Tennessee Division II-AA state championship. Dilfer’s team finished 13-1.

Freeman’s Thompson team is 39-2 over the last three years. The Warriors went 13-1 in 2021, losing only to rival Hoover in the regular-season finale. However, the Warriors avenged that loss with a 35-10 victory over the Bucs in the Class 7A state semifinals before going on to knock off Central-Phenix City 38-22 in the championship game.

Thompson’s roster is again loaded with top college prospects, including defensive back Tony Mitchell (No. 3 in the 247 composite rankings), defensive lineman Peter Woods (No. 5) and offensive tackle Stanton Ramil (No. 15).