FNL: Hoover vs. Spain Park

HOOVER, Ala. -- For 11 straight meetings-10 in the regular season and a playoff game-the Hoover Bucs had found a way to beat cross-town rival Spain Park in what some call the "Iron Bowl of Hoover."

Many from the Spain Park side felt 2011 was the year the streak would come to an end, and the school on Valleydale Road would finally triumph over long-time national power Hoover High. FNL wanted to find out, too, and to check out some prospects on both teams while at it. When the final whistle blew, the streak was at 12, and Hoover had posted a convincing 20-0 win, and Spain Park may as well have been South Park.

To the categories:

That man again

As he did last week in Hoover‘s upset win against South Panola, sophomore corner Marlon Humphrey continued to as a game-changer. He had a pick six to increase his team's lead to 17-0 in the third quarter. He recovered a fumble to stop another drive. He had a pair of passes broken up. The guy is everywhere.

I didn't see Dre Kirkpatrick play as a Gadsden sophomore but once, and I can tell you that Marlon Humphrey of Hoover is at least as far along now as Dre was then, maybe a bit more. His dad, former Bama legend Bobby, was there as always to support his son.

Marlon is already 6-1, 172 and is said to be more intense than his older brother, current Arkansas receiver Maudrecus Humphrey. Both have speed, as their dad played running back, and their mom ran track at UAB. Keep your eye on Marlon Humphrey, folks.

Top prospect

Spain Park senior cornerback Chris Humes (6-0, 195), has offers from Auburn, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Alabama, Southern Miss and UAB. Said Jaguars coach Chip Lindsey, "Chris is a phenomenal athlete. He's got great speed and great ball skills. He definitely passes the looks test. I think the sky's the limit for Chris, and we're definitely counting on him to play well for us this year."

Seniors who shined

Hoover kicker Larsen Real, along with defensive linemen Jeremy Boyd and Trent Dunn, are good enough to play somewhere at the next level. Real connected on two field goals of 35 and 32 yards.

Last week we discussed signal-calling Sam Gillikin and athlete Caleb Sims, both of whom must be accounted for in numerous ways. Gillikin, whose best sport is baseball, can run and throw. He opened the scoring with a 2-yard plunge 3:01 before halftime en route to 301 total yards.

For the Jags, corner Devon Brown (5-11, 180) and safety Destin Challenger (5-11, 205) are both pledged to UAB. Strong safety Justin Carter is a 6-0, 200 Rice commitment. No one in Alabama has a better secondary than Spain Park.

Center Ben Tamburello is the 6-2, 285-pound son of the former Auburn and NFL player of the same name.

Juniors to watch

To me, the two most intriguing juniors in this game were Hoover's Devon Earl, a 5-11, 175-pound safety, and Spain Park inside linebacker Je'Niah Jackson (5-11, 200).

"Devon is the quarterback of our defense," said Hoover coach Josh Niblett, "whether it be checks, fitting down in the box, or special teams. We expect him to do great things for us, because he was able to get on the field (as a starter) last year as a sophomore, and he's a guy with experience."

Niblett likes Jackson, too, and sounds like he wishes the youngster was zoned for Hoover.
"He's a great player who's got great size, great speed and just a knack for the football," Niblett said. "He has a knack for playing the ‘Mike' linebacker in the scheme they run, and it's in his blood."

Je'Niah has an older brother, Jeremiah, on scholy at Arkansas. Jackson will stick you. Defensive lineman Jacob Chaffin (6-3, 250) is still growing and one to watch.

Another Jag who will play somewhere in college is quarterback Nick Mullens, listed at 6-1, 175. This guy has come a long way since last year.

"He's a student of the game," said Lindsey. "He's improved his footwork and drops. His arm strength's gotten better, and he threw three touchdowns last week (in a win over Noxubee County, Miss.)."

Italian fare

Café Luigi is a fairly new and casual Italian restaurant located in the Plaza at Riverchase shopping center on Montgomery Highway in Hoover. They have a nice variety on the menu, but the daily buffet is the way to go. It's the way I go every time I go, which is at least twice a month. On the buffet you'll find spaghetti, lasagna, salad, grilled chicken, green beans, bread, and of course, pizza. Their version of the Meat Lovers is the best pie I've had anywhere in Hoover or Birmingham.

Up next

A trip to Clay-Chalkville as the Cougars and junior wide receiver prospect DeAndre Woods host Kwon Alexander, Trae Elston and the Oxford Yellow Jackets. .

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