Courtesy of Alabama 6A Football
The #1 Hoover Bucs travel to Madison, Alabama to face the #3 Bob Jones Patriots. Both teams come in winning their region championships and for one team Friday night, one team will gain more momentum heading into the playoffs. Last season in the 2009 playoffs, Hoover defeated Bob Jones 34-24 at Regions Park in a very close game.
Hoover (9-0) has one 15 straight games coming into last season and has faced one of the toughest schedules of any Alabama high school football teams. The Bucs traveled out of the state week #1 playing Byrnes, South Carolina. In week #5, Hoover hosted Gadsden City and now take on a tough Patriots team. Bob Jones (8-1) played a tough slate as well, as they traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to face North Gwinnett in the season opener, then defeated Spain Park in week #5 and now host Hoover.
For a high school football fan and this being a non-playoff game, there is going to be some excitement here in week #10 with these two teams playing each other. "Our goal is to compete for a state championship," said Patriots Head coach Kevin Rose. "Our goal is to have a great football team and we competed well early in the year on the seven on seven in Hoover and now we think our schedule will prepare us to get to that level and compete with these great teams. We lost a close game against Hoover last season and we hope this season the results will be better."
The Bucs come into this game with some bumps and bruises from the past few games, but look to keep the bar high for this non-region contest. "Our intensity level is high and we had a great week of practice," said Bucs Head coach Josh Niblett. "It's a great chance to get other players reps during this time of the season when you have players injured and when you get them back down the road, it just makes your team better by the reps your 2's get in practice and in the game."
This game has a lot of weapons with experience. The Bucs have running backs Justin McArthur (117 carries for 804 yards, 6.9 average & 18 TD's), Brandon Cochran (71 carries for 392 yards, 5.5 average & 5 TD's), quarterback Ryan Carter (completed 114-of-176 passing for 1,224 yards & 12 TD's) and wide receivers Jaylon Denson (38 catched for 581 yards, 15.0 average & 6 TD's) and Caleb Sims (30 catches for 469 yards, 15.6 average & 4 TD's). For the Patriots, quarterback Zach Freeman, running backs Xavier Gaddy, Trail Ragland and Nick Beavers, and wide receiver Collins Moore and tight end Reggie Ragland.
The Bucs defense this season has been dominating all season. Hoover gives up only 7.2 points per game. They have four shut-outs on their resume and have shut down opponent running games all season. The only running back with any success was Homewood's senior tailback Ameer Abdullah who rushed for 101 yards on 20 carries. Homewood scored 28 points in week #7 and the Bucs defense held Vestavia Hills to only seven points and Mountain Brook three points the last two games.
One reason the Hoover defense has been strong is the play of linebacker Tyler Roberts. Roberts, who leads the team with eight sacks, has been all over the field and has made it tough on opposing offenses to know where he is going to lineup. "Tyler is strong, athletic and very fast," added Niblett. "He gets to the ball fast and we can stand him up and move him around on the field."
One guy that will be watching where Roberts lines up is Patriots quarterback Freeman. Freeman is having a great season for Bob Jones throwing for 20 touchdowns against only four interceptions. "If he doesn't get a division one scholarship, there are going to be a lot of teams missing out on a great player," added Rose. "Zach is a leader and always gets us in the right play at the right time. A very smart kid and just knows the game of football."
A big thank you to the coaches and administrators who scheduled this game Friday night. It looks to be a great one!