Hoover-Vestavia Is Great Rivalry

VESTAVIA HILLS – Talk about a great rivalry! When the AHSAA re-drew its 6A divisions after last season, long-time rivals Hoover and Vestavia were no longer in the same region. This had grown into one of Alabama high school's best rivalries under venerable Vestavia Coach Buddy Anderson and former Hoover Coach Rush Propst, and both schools wanted to keep it.

Hoover Coach Josh Niblett and Vestavia Coach Buddy Anderson worked to find a Friday night the two schools could get together for the 45th time, and kudos to both for doing so. Friday Night Lights was there to see it this week.

The Bucs, who are celebrating their 50th season of football between Berry and Hoover, now lead the Rebels 26-19 all time after pulling away in the second half for a 35-15 win. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: Forget the fact that his father played at Alabama and in the NFL and his mom Barbara ran track at UAB. If you took the word "cornerback" and drew up a prototype, chances are the picture would be that of Hoover junior Marlon Humphrey (6-0, 180), who not only excels at football but won or was a part of five state championships in indoor and outdoor track during his sophomore season.

John Garcia, Jr., of FoxSPORTSNext.com and BamaMag.com spoke to Niblett during the 7-on-7 summer circuit about Humphrey, and the former Tide fullback/tight end had plenty to say: "The biggest thing is Marlon's a great kid. Number two, he's got a plan. He wants to be able to run track and play football in college. He's got great speed. He's got great feet, and he's a very physical player. I think he had five picks last year, and three of them he took to 'the house.' He's very athletic. He also returns kicks for us. He understands the game. He can help solidify one side of the field.

"I'm trying to help Marlon through this process. I played college football and his dad played college football. His dad (former Tide great Bobby Humphrey) and I want him to go to the program that fits him best. If that's Alabama, great. If it's Auburn or somewhere else, then great."

As is usually the case, Humphrey made several big plays Friday, including three pass break-ups, one on fourth down to end a drive. Another could have been a pick but it slipped away. He also ran the second half kickoff back 37 yards. He is dynamic. He's not ready to decide yet, but Bama leads.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Both teams are senior-laden, which is a big reason both entered the contest 4-0. For the Bucs, quarterback Connor Short and receiver Michael Powers, a.k.a. the "Hunter Street Connection," hooked up seven times for 72 yards Friday in both's final regular season Vestavia game.

Devon Earl, who will play collegiately for Joey Jones and South Alabama, continues to be a fine safety and punt returner. Linebacker Landry Tullo is 6-0, 195, and when he hits you, you know it.

For the Rebels, quarterback Spencer Towns and safety/running back Stuart Jacobs grew up in Buddy Anderson's program and know what the "old school" coach expects; tough, hard-nosed football, and both bring just that.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Anderson remembers coaching against a player from Walker County back in 1978 named Linnie Patrick, who went on to play for Alabama and the USFL's Michigan Panthers. He now has a player who reminds him somewhat of Patrick, a junior running back named Jordan Johnson.

"I think the greatest asset Linnie (Patrick) had was his ability to explode through the crack," Anderson said in interviews with the Birmingham News. "That's what reminds me of Linnie when I watch Jordan. I'm not saying he's a Linnie Patrick, but he's got explosiveness like Linnie Patrick. Jordan has got a lot of God-given ability and when he hits the hole or hits a crack, he explodes. He's got that burst."

In the first four games of his varsity career, Johnson showed that explosiveness. He ran for nearly 400 yards and seven touchdowns. "He has played well," Anderson said. "He's still got some learning to do. He has some techniques he needs to work on, but when he's out there, he's wide open, full speed."

Friday, against one of the state's top defenses, Johnson managed 37 yards on 11 carries with one catch for three yards. He did show some explosiveness on runs of six and 12 yards.

For the Bucs, keep an eye on running back Kyler Jackson, who is not a huge guy (5-8, 182. He) had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs among his 61 yards.

SUPER SOPHS: Hoover receiver Alex Elam looks familiar in the No. 10 jersey that belonged to current Alabama walk-on Caleb Sims the last three years. Elam was clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40 this spring. That was the fastest on the team in one session, including the time of state champion track standout Humphrey. Another fast youngster is 6-3, 185-pound speedster Justin Johnson.

A young defender to watch is Hoover linebacker Darrell Williams, a 6-2, 195-pounder who had a sack and quarterback hurry. He will be a huge part of the recruiting scene in the class of ‘15.

NEXT UP: Mortimer Jordan and talented junior quarterback Devlin Hodges visit Moody. It appears Hodges is high on the Bama quarterback board for the 2014 class. He had pre- and post-game visits with Nick Saban at last week's Florida Atlantic game, and plans to return for the Ole Miss contest.

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