FNL Sees Hoover Smack Northridge

TUSCALOOSA -- They came from all over the Southeast to nine-year old Northridge High School Friday night. "They" being recruitniks and those who write the articles recruitniks read. They came to see a battle not just between visiting Hoover, the number team in 6A, and the sixth-ranked Jaguars, but also a battle of the two best juniors in the state of Alabama, bar none.

Hoover won the key region game, 55-7.

To the categories;

TOP PROSPECTS; Both juniors, Northridge running back Bo Scarborough (6-2, 225) and Hoover cornerback Marlon Humphrey draw crowds every Friday, but this time even more so as they played against each other. Scarborough, a recent Alabama pledge, ran for 80 yards on 14 carries. Of those 80 yards, 43 came against Hoover's second team. He lost a fumble, and returned a kickoff five yards.

Humphrey (6-1, 185) doesn't get thrown against often, but tallied a pair of passes broken up, and returned a kick-off 72 yards to the Jags‘ 20 He also blocked a punt. He is dynamic.

"(Humphrey) is tall and fast, but you can say that about a lot of kids," said Northridge Coach Mike Smith. "What sets him apart is he has ball skills, and by ball skills I mean when the ball is up in the air, he goes up and either picks it off or knocks it down. He becomes like a receiver when a ball is thrown anywhere near him."

As for Scarborough, Smith knew early on he had a great one in this Bo. "Bo was a receiver when we first brought him up to varsity his ninth grade year," Smith recalled. "Then, I lost a starter and a backup running back our first two games. I knew Bo could run the ball, I just didn't want to throw him into the fire of 6A competition as a ninth-grader that early in the season.

"After two losses and two injured tailbacks, I told Bo, ‘I'm going to take the pacifier out of your mouth. We played Minor (and then senior Christion Jones, now of Alabama), we beat them, Bo had over 200 yards rushing that night, and the rest is history."

Offering no argument is Hoover Coach Josh Niblett, himself a former Tider. "He's 6-2, about 225 and he's fast, and when (Scarborough) gets into the secondary, he's a load and he's tough to bring down."

Hoover's defense contained Scarborough well, particularly when the game was still close.

While Humphrey is clearly best player in Alabama's class of 2014, Oxford running back Racean "Rock" Thomas could be on the verge of supplanting Scarborough for No. 2.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: He may be more a baseball prospect in college, but you won't find a better system high school quarterback than Hoover's Conner Short. The 6-foot,175-pounder threw for 278 yards and six, yes six scores Friday. He and senior receiver Michael Powers (5-8, 170) attend the same church, and the "Hunter Street Connection" connected eight times for three touchdowns and 115 yards.

Northridge receiver James Cox, a 6-1, 185 pound Southern Miss commitment who battled illness all week, managed but 16 yards on four catches.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Northridge quarterback Tanner Cline (6-1, 185) runs veteran coach Smith's offense the way the head man wants it run, and that means more than just handing off to Scarborough. When not throwing to Cox, he can turn to tight end Cyontai Lewis (6-3, 255).

Hoover tight end Cooper Carden (6-1, 225) can block and catch, and is tough to tackle.

FRESH CUT: It was good to stop back in to Don's Barber Shop on 15th Street before the game and get a nice flat top from Don's son Kenny, whose dad taught him well. Kenny, like all good Tuscaloosa barbers, also knows his football.

RESURRECTIONS: It felt great during the drive from Don's to Northridge to see the newly-reopened locations of Full Moon Barbeque and Hokkaido Japanese Steakhouse, where the chefs match every "Roll Tide!" with a "Lorr Tie!" of their own. Hey, they're hearts are in the right place. My point is, it's great to see those two restaurants along with Krispy Kreme back open for business after the tragedy that was April 27, 2011.

HOW 'BOUT THAT FISH: It had been eight long months since my last trip to downtown Northport icon City Café, and while it may seem cruel to talk about it to those who haven't been there in a much longer time, I'm still going to. I had the catfish fingers (worth the extra $1.25), string beans, field peas (I call them black-eyed peas), stuffed eggs, to go with rolls, cornbread, sweet tea, and a slice of homemade pecan pie for dessert. I normally get my catfish on the bone (love the tails), but these cat fingers were warm, tender and tasty. The veggies and stuffed eggs were good as always, as were the tea and pie. Hate me yet?

NEXT UP: Normally FNL doesn't do the same team two Fridays in a row, but there is enough talent on former Gene Stallings fullback/tight end Niblett's squad to justify it when the Bucs travel to Vestavia. That, plus my original selection of Auburn at Gadsden city lost its luster when Reuben Foster got that AU tattoo. (That said, there are those in Lee County who think the tattoo ink says AU but the scholarship paper ink may say UGA.)

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