The great senior quarterback and leader for this very good Mountain Brook Spartans football team, Hamp Sisson, has many goals, but the one right now on his mind is getting to the state championship game and winning it.
The Spartans took 2 tough blows last Friday Night in their 23-22 victory over Bob Jones in Madison. Despite the impressive victory in their first round playoff game that moved the Spartans to 8-3 on the season and earned them a spot in the second round versus the state's No.1 team, the Thompson Warriors in a game that'll be played in Alabaster, they suffered 2 major injuries as superstar running backs Harold Joiner and A.J,. Gates were knocked out of the game. Both will not be available for the Thompson game as the Spartans face outstanding quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, 2 of the best wide receivers in the state, a top flight running back and a defense Coach Chris Yeager calls, "vicious," and led by an outside linebacker who is committed to Troy.
But the Spartans still have their senior captain and leader, Sisson, who along with stellar receivers Wilson Higgins, Hamp Greene and tight end-H back Clay Stearns, along with a tough, physical, resilient group on offense and defense who believe they can knock off the No.1 Warriors.
You gotta believe, and that's what Sisson does all the time. In his academic work, where he is an outstanding student, and in all of his athletic pursuits, Sisson pursues both of those endeavors with the ultimate passion and commitment. He is the ultimate leader and character guy, who exudes confidence to his teammates, which carries over into every practice, every game.
Yeager says the team hasn't had a bad practice all year. "This team takes a professional attitude," he says. "We never panic. We've been in a lot of close games this season and have been behind a lot and our players have found a way to pull it out."
It's really uncanny how they've done it. And Sisson is a major reason. A great example is last Friday Night against Bob Jones, where the Spartans had a 23-22 lead with over 3 minutes left and had the ball needing several first downs to seal the game. Bob Jones had the momentum, so Sisson and the offense had to deliver. On 2 third and 5 or 6 plays, Sisson ran for first downs, and then, maybe the most clutch play of the season in an array of clutch plays by Sisson, on third and 12, Sisson connected with Stearns for a 21 yard pass play near the left sideline that gave the Spartans a critical first down. The Spartans went on to salt the game away and come away with a huge victory in hostile territory.
But that's standard for this fine young man. He's done it all season and throughout his career.
I asked Coach Yeager what makes Hamp so talented in everything he does. Yeager says it starts with his family, led by his parents, Tommy and Leigh Ann.
"First, they have a strong faith," he says. "And secondly, they are family first. I've known the family since Hamp was in elementary school. They are so family oriented, and that's what makes Hamp excel at football, because he likes the idea of the family in the team idea and the sacrifice and commitment you make to your family of teammates like you do with your mom, dad and brothers and sister."
Hamp comes from great lineage. His twin older brother and sister have achieved super success already. His older brother, Miller, graduated from the University of Virginia, and is now in medical school at UAB. His older sister, Ann, ran cross country and track at Furman and is now in Physician's Assistant School at UAB, a very impressive and much desired field to be in today. Ann and Miller will do well in both professions. Hamp's other older brother, John, is a junior at the Naval Academy.
I asked Hamp about his college plans.
"I want to play football in college," he says. "I have offers from Army, Air Force, Wofford, Jax State, the Citadel, and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). I didn't think I'd want to play at a military school, but I'm warming up to the idea. And I'm definitely interested in the Ivy League schools. Dartmouth, Yale and Princeton have shown some interest."
Wherever Hamp decides to continue his education and his football, the school will be very fortunate to get one of the highest character young men you can find anywhere in the country.
But for now, Sisson is focused on beating Thompson and continuing this special season for his Mountain Brook Spartans football team.
"We've talked a lot about it as a senior class," he says. "We've got unfinished business. The senior class last year set the standard for us, but we lost in the first round which was disappointing. We came back, started in the weight room and summer practice, and all the way up to now because we want to get to the state championship, that was one of our goals. We hope we're laying the foundation for the younger guys to do the same thing when they are older and seniors. We feel like we have the kind of team that can take it all the way."
With Sisson in charge, there's always a chance.
"I think we're in a good position," Yeager says. "Thompson is probably trying to get us out of the way and get ready for the Hewitt-Hoover winner next week, and we like that. Hamp and the team are so resilient. We like where we are. We like being the underdog."
Sisson and his teammates will tee it up against Thompson at 7 PM tomorrow night. It's hard to doubt a stellar young man, who gives his heart and soul to everything he does and excels at it. With Sisson under center, the Spartans have a shot. You've got a shot every time you have Hamp Sisson on your side.