The #2 Hoover Bucs will travel to play #4 Hewitt-Trussville in a big Class 7A, Region 3 game. Both of these teams are still in the hunt for a region title but a win will go a long way in the region and in the state rankings. Hoover still has a game with Thompson looming down the road.
Both teams are coming off wins last week as Hoover defeated Prattville 28-6 and Hewitt-Trussville slipped past Class 6A Huffman 3-0 on a field goal with five minutes left in the game. Both defenses played lights out last week. It was the special teams that gave up the Prattville touchdown.
Hoover (6-0, 3-0) is coming in this game with a very balanced offense. The Bucs can throw it and can run it with a stable of running backs. "We want to get more physical in the run game, physical on defense," said Bucs Head coach Josh Niblett. " We came up with turnovers in the second half and we got stops on defense all night long. Team continues to play fast and physical while getting off the field on third down. We took the game over in the second half and forced our will on them. I'm proud how our guys bounced back after the punt return. This was a total team effort. Being physical on running the football was key for us."
The Bucs offense starts with Josh Lundy at quarterback. The senior quarterback has made some big throws for the Bucs this season. "Josh has worked very hard to this point," said Niblett. "He has done a great job physically for him to play the way he wants to. He gets the ball out quick and can make all the throws. I think Coach Nib (Tad Niblett) being back spend some time with him has helped a lot. He is understanding the offense to get us in the best play for the team. There are times where we can help him but we want him to see it. We want to get a feel for it. He has the green light to cut it loose. He is still learning. We try to go through the scenarios to help him out so he is still growing as a player." Lundy has completed 91-of-148 for 1,495 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
At wide receiver, the Bucs have a solid group that starts with senior Malik Thomas and sophomore RJ Hamilton. With those two are Isaac Lovoy, who made some big catches against Prattville last week, Joseph Buffett, Cotton Peters, Jacob Johnson and Cia Mayowa. "I can't say how proud I was last week the way Isaac played and what he brings to the table," added Niblett. "He plays hard day in and day out. He is the Caleb Sims type, the Elam brothers and brings that toughness with some great skill. He has made the most of his opportunity and plays every spot on the inside. The other night on the two minute drive, he made two great catches to give up an opportunity to score before the half which changed the whole complection of the game." Thomas is having a huge season while Hamilton sat out against Prattville last week. The Bucs offense is very much more of an explosive attack when the Vandy football and baseball commit comes back to play after his injury. Thomas has 30 receptions for 474 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season.
The tight ends are good blockers along being a weapon in the passing game. Sky Niblett has a touchdown reception, Jabari Gaines is a big target in the secondary and Keyvon Lavender is a good blocking tight end.
The running game has a lot of backs that could get carries at anytime. Big back Dylan Pauley gets the start. Pauley has 316 yards on 63 carries and five touchdowns on the season. The Vandy commit has good size and can run hard between the tackles. Brian Peters had over 100 yards rushing last week against Prattville. Peters has good speed and broke loose a few times in the Prattville secondary. Jaylen Taylor can just simply run through a tackle and when he sees the goal line, he probably is going to get the tough yardage to the end zone. Taylor scored two touchdowns against Prattville last week. Ahamari Williams is another tough runner along with DJ Black. Any of those running backs can have a hugh game on any give night. "We had a couple guys banged up," Niblett added. "We want our guys prepared when they go into a game. Back in the day, you could have one running back. We want to develop as many backs as we can so we don't have to bring in a guy that is not used to playing a position. You get to a point in the game, where are we in the box or on the perimeter. Then we see who has the hot hand and who is playing the best. We trust who we have in. Ball security and feel for what is going on is important." The H-back the gets playing time is senior Will Whisenhunt.
The Bucs offensive line has been playing pretty well from week to week. Center Nick Paradise and Adam Leplowski have the most experience in the offensive line. "Adam brings a physical toughness to us," said Niblett. "He plays with super effort and high energy. He is going to block his guy till the whistle blows. He can dominate the block and gets better with his technique and is still growing as a football player. A leader and very proud of him. He sets the tone for our line." Jordan Washington, Ronold Colclough, and Brandon Baker round out the Bucs lineman. Christian Ledbetter hopes to get back from an injury in the second half of the season.
The Bucs defense has been very good this season. The Bucs defense has serious speed throughout the defense. The d-line of Amari Sanders, Marcus Clark and Cory Warren are very good. Andrew Parrish, Terrell Jones and Houston Vessey bring depth to the position. Look for Christian Fields to get back into the rotation.
The linebackers have speed of the edge and a very good at getting to the ball carrier. Amari Sanders, Marcus Williams, Josh Smith and Demonye Estes are having a great season. Smith is a very good pass rusher. Williams, a verbal commit to Rice University, is a run stuffer with speed. Smith has 33 tackles and Williams 36 tackles on the season.
The Hoover secondary has turned it around since they gave up a lot of big plays against Central-Phenix City in the first game of the season. Massiah Tolen, an Air Force commit, has made a successful switch from running back to cornerback. Tolen has 4.25 speed in the forty and used it tracking down a Prattville receiver after about 60 yards and kept the Lions out of the end zone after a tackle around the Bucs 20 yard line. "Massiah is the fastest guy on the team," said Bucs defensive secondary coach Durrell Fuqua. "Ran a 4.32 in the 40 during the summer. He is continuing to learn the position and is getting better and better." Corner Jamal Denson returns from last season. "Jamal brings back the only experience at cornerback from last season," added Fuqua. "Solid player for us, long and lengthy while still can play physical. We feel he will get an opportunity to play at the college level." Add in corner sophomore Dale Miller. "One of our sophomores that getting valuable playing experience," said Fuqua. "Has a chance to be really good for us. A guy always asking questions and wanting to get better."
Matthew Palmer brings a lot of experience to the Bucs secondary. "Smart, intelligent kid and football player," said Fuqua. "Can get everyone lined up and makes the proper adjustments. Will have a chance to play at the next level." Jay Avery, another safety that is making a splash for the Bucs defense. "Super athletic kid," said Fuqua. "Excellent track and field athlete as well." Avery has two interceptions on the season. Paul Thompson, another valuable piece of the Bucs secondary. "Getting valuable playing time," said Fuqua. "A baseball player as well. Very physical and loves to compete." Thompson has one interception on the season. The Bucs secondary have five interceptions on the season.
Constantine Hontzas handles are the kicking duties for the Bucs. Hontzas kicked a game winning field goal against Central-Phenix City last season. Hontzas pinned back Prattville inside the 20 yard line a few times last week.
Hewitt-Trussville (5-1, 2-1) is coming into the game with a very solid run game. Running backs Armoni Goodwin, an Auburn commit, and Sean Jackson are the best 1-2 punch in 7A football. Goodwin can break a long one on any play he touches the ball and Jackson can break tackles with the best of them with his size and speed. Jackson has good hands out of the backfield and is a big weapon on screen plays for the Huskies. Goodwin has 774 yards on 72 carries and 10 touchdowns. The senior running back has 100 yards rushing in each of his five games this season. Goodwin is averaging a huge 10.8 yards per carry this season. Jackson has 415 yards on 45 carries and four touchdowns. He is averaging a 9.2 yard per carry average. Jackson has 114 yards on 12 receptions and a touchdown this season.
The Huskies offense is run by quarterback Cade Carruth. In Carruth in five games has completed 47-of-86 passing for 632 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Along with Carruth at quarterback is starting safety Jackson Holland. Holland has played sparingly at quarterback this season, but look Holland is still going to get reps on the offensive side of the ball. "We feel like we have two good guys at this position," said Huskies Head coach Josh Floyd. "They both bring something different to the table. Jackson is a really good safety on defense for us. Something he is a weapon on defense as well. He is a guy that can do some things offensively for us so we will probably play both of those guys." Last year, Holland had a break out game against Thompson when he completed 7-of-11 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns with 87 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown in the win over the state champions. Holland played against Hoover last season. "Holland brings a different things to the table because he is a very good athlete," said Niblett. "We might see more quarterback runs. He have to go a good job of boxing the middle up and run to the football."
The Hewitt-Trussville receivers are Omari Kelly, Cayson Zackery, Ryan Shoop, Carter Hollis and tight end Matt Miller. Kelly is the Huskies leading receiver with 237 yards on 13 receptions and two touchdowns. Kelly has offers from Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona State and others. Zackery has 118 yards on 6 receptions and a touchdown on the season.
The Huskies offensive line is very good. Riley Quick, Kade Martin, Ryan Gunter, Maverick McIntyre and Harrison Asbury. Stephen Horsley gets playing time on the Huskies offensive line. Quick has many football and baseball offers including from Alabama football and baseball. "Riley has played well this season and getting better and better," added Floyd. "Plays hard and plays a little D-line for us and really enjoys playing the game. I think he would like to play every snap on both sides of the ball. That is just the kind of player he is. He likes to compete and you have to love that in a player."
The Huskies offense has turned the ball over a few times the last few games and know that they have to be better this week against Hoover on offense. "We want to execute better," said Floyd. "Protect the football. We have turned the ball over the last two weeks and that is something that we usually don't do. We have to clean that up and do a better job in those situations on offense. This hasn't been an issue over time in the past. We have to do a better job of concentration and just taking care of the football. I think we will bounce back from that."
The Huskies defense have played great for most of the season. Linebackers Landen Berguson and Clint Simpson had big game against Huffman last week. "Landen is our senior leader for us," said Floyd. "He was big last week. He has put a lot of time in this program. He spent a lot of time in the off season getting bigger, faster and stronger. Very pleased with him and brings it every week." Berguson had 16 tackles while Simpson had 15 tackles against Huffman. Berguson leads the team with 66 tackles on the season. Linebackers Hunter Jones and Mike Edwards bring together a very good linebackers group.
The defensive lineman have a lot of special talent. Justice Finkley has 23 offers that include Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and others. Hunter Osborne Hunter Osborne has been a handful for opposing offensive lines. The sophomore DL stands at 6'4-250-pounds. Skyler Carrillo Connor Knight and Quick bring depth to the Huskies front line.
In the secondary, Holland and Kaileb Jackson are at safety. Connor Thomas and Trey Washington are at corner. Look for Washington to check Thomas of Hoover for most of the night. "I thought that Thompson game wh had some break downs that we don't usually have," added Floyd. "Not to take anything away from Thompson because they are a really, really good football team. A few mental errors, but they played big last week. Proud of our guys to make stop after stop on defense which was very big for us."
Kicker Ethan Wilson drilled a 40-yard field goal with five minutes left in the game against Huffman last week.
"They have great skill guys on the perimeter along with two really, really good backs," said Niblett. "They do a good job of putting their guys on making big plays. We have to play well on early downs and not giving up the big plays. We can't give up big plays in the run game or play action. Defensively they are big and fast at every spot. They create pressure and try to get you into negative plays. We are going on the road so that will be a different deal for us the last few weeks."
"There quarterback has played really well for them this season," said Floyd. "They have a lot of good receivers to go along with the quarterback. That has given them a lot of big plays. They have a good running back committed to Vanderbilt. They have guys behind him that brings a lot of good depth to that position. On defense, they are very fast. Very athletic on the D-line while being very fast at the linebacker position. They are playing really well right now."