The preseason top team in the country on Scout.com, Prattville's season got off to a slow start with a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and later losing to Opelika, but the Lions turned things around in a big way to finish regular the season.
Since the loss to Opelika in week five Prattville has not won a game by less than 10 points and that was a 13-3 win over Auburn commitment and the defending 6A champion Daphne Trojans. In the playoffs the Lions have outscored their opponents 152-29 with a strong defense led by Florida State commitment Justin Shanks and South Alabama commitment Terrance Jones up front and Wake Forest verbal Laronji Vason. Offensively the quarterback duo of Justin Thomas and Jalen Whitlow run behind a physical offensive line that includes a pair of Division I commitments.
Young Marlon Humphrey is a player to watch for Hoover
For Hoover it has been a season that has seen the Bucs get better week after week. Even with the loss of quarterback and Auburn baseball signee Sam Gilliken in the seventh game of the season with a knee injury, Coach Josh Niblett's team has continued winning to make it to the finals once again. With a senior class that is 54-5 in four seasons and playing in its fourth straight title game Niblett said it's all about belief for the Bucs even if nobody thought they could get there.
"I don't know, we did," Niblett said. "Everybody had their doubts about us this year and thought we weren't going to do this or we weren't going to do that, but we don't listen to it. The guys in our locker room understand what we're trying to do. We just keep our nose to the grind, keep on working, and then we let the chips fall where they may and let the dust clear and see where we're at."
Preparing to face playoff rival Prattville, Niblett said he has no doubt it's going to be another old-school battle with the Lions this time around and with the loss in last year's game fresh on the minds of his players he said Hoover is ready to give all it has to win another title.
"Oh, it's going to be a battle," Niblett said. "You've got two teams fighting for a state championship. They haven't forgotten two years ago. But also at the same time we haven't forgotten about last year. But this isn't about last year. This is about this team, this year, what they want to play for, what they want to accomplish, and they've got to persevere and they've got to prepare hard this week to give themselves a chance to win."
A full rundown of all the Super Six games:
Handley (14-0) vs. Madison Academy (12-2), 11 a.m.
Handley has been a powerhouse in Class 3A, but will be making its first Super Six appearance after getting close several times in the past decade. Led by powerful Bradley Bozeman up front the Tigers have outscored their opponents 499-173 this season using a downhill running game and pressure defense.
Making its first ever championship appearance in football, Madison Academy is averaging 36 points per game and can spread the football around to a variety of targets including talented freshman running back Kerryon Johnson.
Handley's Quay Hunter is a junior running back/defensive back who is a player to watch
Linden (13-1) vs. Marion County (13-1), 3 p.m.
After destroying perennial favorite Sweet Water 40-7 last week in the semi-finals, Linden is eyeing its first state title. Dominating the opposition along the way with the only loss to Class 5A Gulf Shores, the Patriots are averaging just over 40 points per game and allowing just 5.9 behind the play of talented linebacker Terris Lewis. Linden has six shutouts this season and has allowed more than eight points just three times.
Looking for its fourth state title Marion County is an offensive juggernaut, averaging 47.3 points per game. The Red Raiders have scored at least 35 points in every game this season with six games over 50 points.
Vigor (12-2) vs. Hartselle (14-0), 7 p.m.
Long a powerhouse in Alabama high school football, Vigor will be making its first appearance in the Super Six since 2008 and will be looking for its fourth title overall. Leading the way is a stingy defense with speedy Arkansas commitment Jamichael Winston at defensive end. Last week he and the Wolves harassed Jameis Winston and Hueytown all night long in a 20-7 win. Vigor has five shutouts this season and is allowing just 7.4 points per game.
Looking for its first title Hartselle comes in undefeated and averaging 35.4 points per game on the year behind the play of quarterback Deacon Aldridge and running backs Blake Slayton and Masio Stover.
Jackson (14-0) vs. Oneonta (12-2), 11 a.m.
The favorite all season long in 4A, Jackson has run roughshod over opponents this year on the way to the title game. Outscoring its opponents 605-153 this season, the Tigers are looking for their first state title. Former Leroy Coach Danny Powell's offense is led by quarterback Dustyn Moseley and running back Ledarrius Bowe. Last week the 5-7 Bowe ran for 200 yards in a win over UMS-Wright.
Looking for its third state title, Oneonta is averaging 39 points per game behind quarterback Schyler Walker and running back Tyler Smith.
Elba (14-0) vs. Tanner (14-0), 3 p.m.
The only game matching up two undefeated teams, the 2A final could be a shootout with Tanner averaging 44.1 points per game and Elba an incredible 51.3 points per contest. Since scoring 20 and 26 the first two weeks of the season the Tigers have had games of 57, 75, 65, 63, 80, 69, and 59 points on the way to the finals.
Making its first title appearance, Tanner is allowing just 10.3 points per game. Down the stretch the Rattlers took down small school powers Reeltown, Woodland and Lineville in successive weeks to reach the title game.
Class 6A Prattville (11-2) vs. Hoover (12-1), 7 p.m.
This will be the fifth meeting in the finals between Prattville and Hoover with both teams winning twice and just three points separating them in the four meetings. Hoover enters averaging 31.9 points per game and allowing 13.9 on the season.
Prattville is averaging 41.5 points per contest and has games of 71 and 63 points this season.