Friday Night Lights Checks Hoover at Thompson

ALABASTER – They rededicated Larry Simmons Stadium at Thompson High Friday night, new field turf and amenities and all. That would be the highlight of the evening for the home team, as Hoover demolished the Warriors, 56-6. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECTS: There’s a reason FNL scheduled Hoover twice in a 3-week span. The Bucs, as usual, have a roster loaded with young men who will play at the next level, be it Division II or the SEC. We’ll start this week with a top four, and continue the discussion in two weeks when Hoover visits Spain Park for a Thursday TV game. Here are a few words from Bucs coach Josh Niblett on what I’d consider his top four seniors and juniors:

Christian Bell (SR, OLB/DE, Alabama commitment, 6-4, 220): “This is his third year to start, and he’s one of those guys we expect a lot out of, both versus the run game and in the pass rush. He does a really good job of being able to play in space if we ever need him to drop. He’s a hybrid guy that can do it all. We’ve been very fortunate to have him as a starter for three years.” Bell had a sack and several quarterback hurries.

Darrell Williams (SR, LB, AU pledge, still talking to Bama, 6-3, 230): “He’s playing well, like we expected him to. He’s a long guy, got good speed, and he’s worked hard in the weight room. He covers a lot of space, and he’s become a real physical football player, and a leader on our team.”

Williams returned a pick 21 yards to pay dirt in the first quarter.

Jeremiah Moon (JR, LB, nephew of former Tider Darius Gilbert, 6-4, 205): “Jeremiah’s a good player who’s still working on some stuff because he’s still young. Anytime you’ve just turned 16 years old… He’s a young junior, so he’s still learning all the physical parts of the game. And, he’s so long like Darrell (Williams) is, that he covers a lot of space, so we ask a lot of our Will linebacker where he plays, so he’s got to be able to play outside the box and in the box, so we’re excited about him this year, and in the future as he continues to grow.”

P.J. Hall (JR, the Bucs’ top corner, 5-11, 182): “P.J. was good last year. The greatest thing about him last year was being on the opposite side of Marlon (Humphrey, a current Alabama freshman), so he got a lot of balls thrown at him and a lot of reps. That makes a big difference when you you’re a sophomore. He’s a physical football player, he’s got great hands and great speed, and he understands the game and studies the game. He improves every day.”

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Thompson punter David Buckelew got a lot more work than Montgomery would have hoped, but he boomed a few. His long-snapper, Jordan Vickers, may be hearing soon from Southern Miss. Jordan’s dad, Dr. Wayne Vickers, is the second-year superintendent of the young Alabaster City School System, which plans a new school and stadium in just 3-4 years. Dr. Vickers oversaw similar projects at his previous stop, Saraland.

For the Bucs, 210-pound Bradrick Shaw is a touchdown machine, adding another score to his resume. He racked up 91 yards on the ground and added 46 receiving.

JUNIOR TO WATCH: Many of our readers remember big Thomas Rayam, who blocked a late field goal at the base of Mt. Nittany to preserve a Tide win against Penn State back in 1989. Last year, FNL found out Thomas’ son, T.J., is quite an accomplished nose guard in his own right at 6-0, 285. Said Warriors coach Mike Montgomery (a former Mississippi State offensive lineman): “He’s growing. He’s still a baby in some senses, but he’s a man-child. I enjoy watching his progress, and of course he comes from good stock. He’s a leader, not only on defense but for the whole team, because he’s a giving person who exemplifies what we need our Warriors to be, and I’m glad that he’s on my team.”

Rayam made 11 tackles, one for a loss.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS: Located at 410 1st St SW in Alabaster, Chubb’s Grub Station was nominated by Birmingham News readers as producing one of the area’s top cheeseburgers. The burgers don’t come out quickly, but if you’re not in a hurry, you’ll enjoy the 80/20 all beef chuck mixture, which is hand-patted and cooked over a flat grill. The burger comes out with mayo, lettuce, tomato, homemade sauce, grilled onions, bacon and/or cheese if you like, all on a toasted Kaiser roll. The hand-cut fresh fries only add to the joy. Again, if you’re not in a hurry, give it a try.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS, PART 2: Admittedly, the meal reviewed from Chubb’s Grub Station occurred in the early part of the summer. On this night, it was time to check out the stadium burgers at Thompson, until finding out at half time the Band Boosters concession stand had run out. The grilled hot dogs were so-so. I‘ll order pregame next season.

NEXT UP: Prospects abound whenever Carver-Montgomery and Prattville get together, and next Friday will be no exception. FNL was first to write about Lions’ halfback Kingston Davis (outside Autauga County), and we are quite eager to see Wolverines linebacker Lyndell “Mack” Wilson. Those two are only the tip of the iceberg, and the story will have many more names for you.


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