Bucs Win Under Friday Night Lights

HOOVER – If Howard Cosell were still alive today, he’d be on his soap box. His rant? “Down goes HOOVAH! DOWN GOES HOOVAH!” (Apologies to Joe Frazier.) You see, things haven’t gone swimmingly for the perennial state power school coached by former Alabama player Josh Niblett.

Hoover entered Friday’s contest against Hewitt-Trussville with two losses during the regular season. Not just losses, mind you. Losses to their two biggest rivals, Spain Park and Vestavia Hills. That just doesn’t happen. Or, it didn’t, until now. On this night, the Bucs dominated the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies 38-0 at the Hoover Met. They will still likely travel in round one of the playoffs, another rarity. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: Speaking of “doesn’t happen,” rarely is this category dedicated to a player on the opposing team when said team faces Hoover. The times, they are a changin’. Hewitt running back Jarrion Street (6-2, 200) is an Ole Miss commitment. Could that change?

“You know how college football recruiting. You never know what’s going to happen,” said Huskies Coach Josh Floyd. “He still loves Ole Miss. Obviously, Auburn and Alabama know about him, and he’s been to games at both schools this fall. It’s a long haul. It’s only October, so you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Other schools are noticing because of the off-season work Street put in. Floyd explained, “He’s bigger, stronger and faster than he was last year. He made a commitment in the weight room. He gained 15 pounds of muscle, and got faster, because his legs developed more.”

Niblett knows a good back when he sees one. “(Street’s) a good player with explosion, and he can score from anywhere,” he said.

Street carried the ball 19 times for 67 net yards, and caught two balls for another 24. These stats are official, and courtesy of the Hoover stat crew. 91 yards total offense is not bad, but low for Street.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: He’s committed to Florida, but at one time many thought Jeremiah Moon (6-4, 210) would end up in Tuscaloosa, as his uncle Darius Gilbert back in the day. Moon is a linebacker/defensive end hybrid who has improved each year at Hoover, and could be a factor at least on special teams in Gainesville next fall. Niblett calls special teams “we-fense,” and Moon is adept there. Jim McElwain is getting a good one, though a year in the weight room while redshirting may be in order.

Another guy some thought could be a Tider is corner P.J. Hall (5-11, 196), but that didn’t work out. Hall looked good while taking a punt back 64 yards to put his team up 21-0 with 7:12 to go in the first half.

For the Huskies, H-back/linebacker Bailey McElwain (no relation to Jim) is committed to Stanford. He’s a 6-1, 245-pound bruiser. Also, quarterback Zac Thomas (6-2, 205) has the tools to run Floyd’s high-powered attack at this level, and for someone at the next. Sadly, Thomas left with a lower leg injury and had to be carted off midway through the second quarter. When a stretcher and cart are employed, it’s never good. He broke a fibula.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Hewitt wide receiver Noah Igbinoghene (6-0, 190) is as tough to cover as his last name is to pronounce. He is somewhat of a sleeper, but a playmaker to be sure.

For the Bucs, quick and tough running back C.J. Sturdivant (6-0, 200) has been a factor all year when Niblett chooses to run the ball, and when he throws it, cue Cortez Hall (6-0, 180), who is a sure-handed and quick receiver. Defensively, Kholbe Coleman (6-0, 200) is a hard-hitting linebacker who had a big sack in the first half. He finished with 6.5 stops.

SUPER SOPHS: This category is larger than normal considering it was a matchup of two 7A playoff teams, but here you go: McElwain’s younger brother Elliot (6-0, 200) is a fullback who leads the way for Street and is the squad’s leading receiver. Then you have Ben Adams (6-0, 211) who starts on the o-line. Linebacker Simon Miskelley is 6-0, 192 and a linebacker who, like Adams, just needs a growth spurt.

For the Bucs, there’s wide receiver Shedrick Jackson, a 6-1, 185-pounder who is a key part of the offense. Left tackle Mike Maye is 6-2, 265 and still growing. He can play at the next level, even if it means a move inside. Running back Vonte Brackett (6-0, 185) flashed as well.

LARRY MUNSON “JUST A FRESHMAN” AWARD: It goes to Hoover d-lineman Christian Renda (6-0, 200). This is 7A football, and he’s out there competing.

CRIMSON CONNECTION: In all the years I’ve covered Hoover games, I never knew this: their PA announcer, who has always been friendly and helpful, is Birmingham radio personality Jeff “J.T.” Tyson. But here’s the capper: his real last name is Nysewander. As in, Bama fullback/H-back Michael’s dad. FNL covered Michael when he played tight end at Hoover before he decided to walk on (and eventually earn a scholarship) at Bama. So there you go. (By the way, Jeff was smart enough to get the girl filming the game for Hewitt to write out a phonetic pronunciation on “Igbinoghene.” Made me remember Kenny “Snake” Stabler, who would have loved Noah.)

AUBURN CONNECTION: Once, when I was a young boy, my dad took me to Grant Field to see Auburn visit (and beat) Georgia Tech. Auburn’s quarterback that day was Chris Vacarella. On this night, his son Christopher, was behind center for Hoover, and was joined pre-game for Senior Night ceremonies by Chris. Yes, I am getting old.

HOW ‘BOUT THAT BBQ: On a recent FNL trip to Clay-Chalkville, curiosity got the best of me. What, I wondered what is now in the building formerly occupied by Legends Smokehouse. The answer is the award-winning Barbeque Stop. Award-winning as in, there are trophies on display from grilling competitions around the country. These folks know what they’re doing. I had the pulled pork, and the afore-mentioned curiosity led me to try two different sauces, both of which passed the CC Taste Test: Hickory Heaven, with a hint of smoke, and Southern Peach, which won an award and is the restaurant’s most popular. I had not thought of peach as a BBQ ingredient, but it works. If you’re in the area, I recommend you give this place on Old Springville Road a shot.

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