Written By: CW Starr
The Old Coach Staff
Outside of Alabama, Hoover High School may be known as the football team depicted on MTV’s “Two-a-Days” during the 2006-2007 seasons.
In addition to action on the field the show followed the lives of several players through practices, their social lives, and at home with their families. The show was a hit with more than 46 million people tuning in.
This week eyes around the state of Texas will follow the Bucs as they travel to Allen, taking on one of the state’s powerhouse teams, in the next step for the nationally recognized high school football program. Hoover has not been shy about taking on national powers and in the past has played teams from Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Florida.
Allen will host Alabama’s 11-time state champion in their season opener as part of the Tom Landry Classic. Allen has a 7-1 all-time record in the Landry Classic, with its only loss coming in 2006 against the Garland Owls.
Estimates for the Hoover trip to Texas from the school district is around $90K and some Texas economists place it well over $100K for the opportunity to experience Texas High School football.
Hoover opened the season at No. 3 in the Class 7A Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll and played their opening game last week against Central-Phenix City earning a 23-7 victory.
Hoover reached the Alabama state final in each of head coach Josh Niblett's first seven years through 2014, winning four state championships, including three in a row from 2012-2014. Nesblett spoke with AL.com about traveling to play Allen.
“To have an opportunity to go out to Texas and play them will be great,” said Hoover head coach Josh Niblett.
“That’s special to me, to know that they felt like we were a special program. But to be able to represent the state of Alabama, to represent our community, and to represent our school, we’re excited about that,” Niblett said.
Allen/Hoover…..By the Numbers
|Leading up to the Allen season opener this Friday, many may be asking…..Who is Hoover? Why Hoover? Well, a look at the numbers will answer your question for sure. Hoover is the most dominant force in Alabama HS football for over a decade. Six state championships in 12 years, including winning 3-in-a-row from 2012-2014, the same exact years that Allen was accomplishing the same feat about 1,000 miles to the West. Not only did Hoover win 6 titles, they actually made it to the State Title game 10 times over the 12 year span. And in another cosmic alignment, when Hoover ended the 2013 season with their 30th straight win, Allen had just won their 27th straight on the way to 57. Want the definition of dominance? In the last 4 years, Allen and Hoover have combined to go 114-7, winning 94.2% of their games, beating their opponents by an average of 25 points per game.|
|So, what separates these 2 historical runs? Well, it's hard to determine the quality of competition from state to state….especially when Allen has never played a team from Alabama and Hoover has never played a team from Texas. BUT, the sheer number of opponents Allen has to wade through annually dwarfs that which Hoover faces. Every year, there are 245 Class 6A Texas teams gunning for the same state championship Allen strives to attain. This dwarfs the 64 teams that Hoover deals with. In fact, after Alabama realignment in 2014, now there are only 32 schools vying for the Class 7A Alabama title.|
|Nevertheless, Allen and Hoover have been the premeire programs in their respective states this decade….and Friday we will all see quite a show.|
|Allen||Last 12 Seasons||Hoover|
|19.4||Average Winning Margin||20.2|
|11||10+ Win Seasons||11|
|7||Undefeated Regular Seasons||5|
|4-0||Record vs Out of State teams||12-5|
|Last 4 Seasons|
|27.8||Average Winning Margin||23.2|
|1||Losses in State Semifinals||1|
|57||Longest Win Streak||30|
|245||Number of Schools in State Classification||64|
|64||Teams in Playoff Bracket||32|
The timing of the Hoover trip finds the Allen program in a state of transition.
After fifty-seven consecutive victories and three straight state championships in the largest classification of Texas high school football Allen lost last year in the Class 6A Division I State Semifinals. For the first time in three years Allen does not start the season as reigning state champs or TheOldCoach.com’s preseason top ranked team.
The Eagles will also line up on Friday under the guidance of a new head coach for the first time in thirteen years. After last season Tom Westerberg left Allen for Barbers Hill. Westerberg won four state championships (2008, ‘12, ‘13 ‘14) and 148 games in 12 seasons as the head coach at Allen.
Allen turned to a familiar face in hiring Terry Gambill to replace Westerberg. Gambill returns to Allen from his stint as the head coach at Waco Midway. Gambill was an assistant at Allen for nine seasons and the defensive coordinator for the Eagles' first state champion in 2008.
Tailgating will begin Friday afternoon hours before the kick-off outside Eagle Stadium with parents and community groups such as the "Balding Eagles," “Allen Eagle Nation,” and “Allen Eagles’ Touchdown Club (TDC), “ creating a college like atmosphere in the stadium parking lot. Include Allen’s “Biggest Band in The Land,” The Allen Eagle Escadrille, over 800 strong with the Color Guard, and the pageantry of Friday night will only be surpassed by the quality of play between the two squads.
With standing-room attendance around 22,000 and seating just over 18K look for a packed stadium for the Eagles’ home opener and make no mistake that there are more than “bragging rights” on the line. Both teams come into the game with great traditions and are considered their state’s most highly recognized programs.
Allen returns a solid core of players but there is a notable absence of the Division I caliber of athletes that have dotted the roster over the past ten years. First year head coach Gambill finds that the cupboard is not bare but inexperienced to start the season and takes every day and game in stride to improve. Gambill is tight lipped with his comments to the media but his leadership, intensity and passion come through.
"My philosophy is 'How good can we be today?' It's going to be one day at a time. Nobody wins a game today," Gambill said. "It’s an honor to play for Allen."
And on the topic of playing Hoover Gambill stayed on the high road and remain close to the vest.
“Hoover has a great program with lots of tradition,” said Gambill.
In case you missed the MTV version of Hoover football it can be rented on Netflix.
And if you want to catch the “Play-by-Play” action for Friday night’s game with Allen hosting Hoover head over to TheOldCoach.com and listen live. www.theoldcoach.com
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