BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Mark Freeman has had an incredible run at Thompson High School.

In the last four years, the University of Alabama graduate has led the Thompson Warriors football team to four state championship wins in a row, the latest being on Nov. 30, when the Warriors defeated Auburn High 49-24 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Throughout his 24-year career, Freeman has compiled a record of 247-55 in the regular season and 54-11 in the playoffs. His impressive record, along with his 10 championship wins, give him the ultimate resume.

For the time being, that run doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.

For Freeman, it all started at home. In 1998, Freeman got his first coaching job at Bessemer Academy, where he was once a student himself.

“It felt great,” Freeman said. “Bessemer Academy offered me an opportunity when I had to finish my college education. I had a little bit left on that and going to Bessemer Academy, my alma mater and working in my community right here, it was a blessing and it was 10 wonderful years and I look back on it as a great time in my life.”

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Mark Freeman

While at Bessemer Academy, Freeman coached several sports and was able to take a valuable lesson from each one.

“Just dealing with people. You know my first three years at B.A., I think I coached every male sport. We went straight from football to basketball and I had the junior high, the varsity and then, of course, I did baseball I think for seven years. So, you go from one to another and after a little while you look up and it’s been three years gone. And I think they did a blessing getting me out of basketball and I still did baseball for a few more years, but it was a great time.”

After 10 years at Bessemer Academy, Freeman went on to have successful stints at Gulf Shores, Spanish Fort and Thompson, where he’s been since 2015.

“Just amazing and what a journey that coaching is and meeting new people every year,” Freeman said. “When we got there, I remember meeting with the fifth grade class that were going to be sixth graders and encouraging them to be involved in youth football that year. Then as they come up and watching those guys grow up, you turn around and you remember meeting those guys in the fifth grade going into the sixth grade and time flies. But man, what a blessed journey it’s been and I can’t say enough about the way that our superintendent and our principal has set it up for us to have a chance to be successful.”

For Freeman, every season brings its own challenges, obstacles and memories. When you win one championship, you can live off of those memories and tell stories for a lifetime. But when you’ve won 10 state championships, picking a favorite memory can be hard.

“You know, I remember the first one at Bessemer Academy. We had got beaten by Monroe Academy, the next year we played the same team and we won the game on a last minute field goal,” he said. “We were kicking a field goal because the guy had missed an extra point earlier in the game I believe. I think it was 6-6 or something and it’s one of those things, we call a time out and said ‘hey, we’ve taken three shots at this thing, we’re down here close.’ And I said ‘Lord, I need a play, I need and idea and he said hey, you kick the field goal and you’re going to be a state champion.

“So I told the team and man they just dug their head and the little guy kicking, Matt Watkins, told me to pray for him and I said’ I’ve already prayed, you pray for yourself and I said go kick the ball.’ We won that on the last minute of the game and that school and those people, it was such a moment. And all of them are special but then you go through the Auburn game, two or three years ago and we win it on the last play of the game, to come from way back and to win that game. And then this year’s team, I can’t say enough about the way they persevered and continued to work through some adversity and things. So, they’re all special, you can find something special in each year, but those three are pretty special games.”

Freeman has had the opportunity to coach several players who went on to play college football. Arguably the biggest name under Freeman was Taulia Tagovailoa, who played at Thompson before joining his brother, Tua, at Alabama. Now, the younger Tagovailoa is the quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins.

Thompson High quarterback Trent Seaborn

Now, Freeman has Trent Seaborn, an eighth-grader who was instrumental in the Warriors’ last championship run and could potentially be making his way toward Division 1 ball in a few years.

“Trent started coming around here in the third grade, you meet the little guy and you know he’s special,” he said. “His demeanor even as a third grader was just so loving and kind and this desire to be really good at things… they called and said Trent wants to come out there and play and the main thing was I think the grandad was a big figure in the family’s life and then he passed I think, kind of suddenly in January of last year. So, the Lord put him here and what a great kid, what a great family.”

With his success at Thompson, others have speculated whether Freeman could take his talent to the collegiate level.

“You know, that’s up to the Lord. Every year at this time things will come up and sometimes it’s fun looking in, you see those Saturday games in college and you think that would be fun to go do what we do and have some success doing that,” he said. “But then, you also have to wake up and say ‘what did that do to my family, what does it do to my coaches?’ So there’s a lot that goes into it. But me and my wife, we just live, depend on God to show us the journey and all we do is prepare today to do the best we can with our kids and the people God gives us next year, wherever they’re at, to do the best we can with those kids in those moment.”

Freeman said that while he stresses the importance of cherishing memories of the good seasons with his players, it’s almost time to get back to work.

“We have a rule: enjoy it through Christmas break and relish on it,” he said. “I think you have to celebrate your victories and celebrate your good times. Those kids are with us, truthfully, everyday except maybe a total month out of the year. They’re doing something that’s football related and when we go back the Wednesday after Christmas break, all things with this year, they need to be gone. They need to be put in a memory bank, but it’s on to next year.”

“But these things here are special and I think they need to enjoy it and their family enjoy it because the coaches wives, the parents of the kids, so much goes into it that they need to relish it to give them some incentive to want to do it again next year.”