The Hoover Bucs travel to Hewitt-Trussville in a key Class 7A, Region 3 matchup. Both teams stand at 2-0 in the region, and the winner will have a leg up on playing for the region title. Both teams lost their opener to start the season but have rebounded with three straight wins.
Hoover lost to Auburn (17-14) to open the season but has wins over Bartlett, Tennessee (56-7) with region wins over Spain Park (24-10) and Vestavia Hills (20-14). The Bucs (3-1, 2-0) come into the game looking to put it all together on the road this week. "Our kids have played hard," said Bucs head coach Wade Waldrop. "I'm proud of them for finding a way to win a game late. I don't think we have played our best football yet. Especially proud of how we have competed late in the ballgame."
Last week, Hoover trailed Vestavia Hills the whole game until tying it with around 7:00 minutes to go in the game and then scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than one minute left.
On offense, the Bucs have a lot of talent and are looking to put it together for an entire game. Quarterback Brewer Smith is getting better each week due to an injury that kept him out of most of fall camp. "Brewer keeps getting better each game," added Waldrop. "This is the fourth week we have had him, and we are close to where he needs to be." Jonah Winston is his backup and brings a lot of athletism to the quarterback position.
At running back, the Bucs have three good ones. Ahmari Williams has been steady the last two years and can run it or catch it out of the backfield. So can LaMarion McCammon and Kamal Amerson. All three can make plays on short routes out of the backfield.
At the receiver position, the Bucs have KJ Law, Freddie Dunson, Jordan Woolen, and Braydon Gerstenberg. "We have to get KJ the football more regularly," said Waldrop. "We can't get the ball to him, but it needs to be a priority." Law can make the big play anytime on the field with his good hands and route running. Woolen has top-notch speed and can go for the long home run with the deep ball. At tight end, Jack Lamey hopes to return soon after an injury against Auburn the first week of the season. Last week, the Bucs used TJ Fields at that position.
The Bucs offensive line has been steady this season. Duke commitment Ethan Hubbard, AJ Franklin, Grant Bonner, Rashad Smith, and Jackson Richard make up the starting five. The Bucs offense likes to run the football, and these linemen play an essential role in the ground game. "Our running backs are running hard, and our linemen are working hard," said Waldrop. "We need to be a little more consistent on that side of the ball."
The Bucs defense has been pretty steady for the most part, and they have a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball. The defensive lineman of Micah Hampton, Andrew Parrish, Chaleb Powell, and Jordan Norman has been strong on the defensive front line. Parrish has been living in the opposing team's backfields. "The defense has been good," said Waldrop. "Andrew is an unbelievable kid that plays with a very high motor. He gets after it and has played well for us."
The linebackers are outstanding and could be two of the best in the state. Kaleb Jackson and Bradley Shaw can go anywhere on the field to chase down a running back. They can go sideline to sideline and play a little wildcat on the offensive side of the ball. Shaw has offers from Georgia, Auburn, Jackson State, Michigan State, Duke, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Vandy, UAB, and Tennessee.
In the secondary are Dj Estes, Devan Carlisle, Jay Avery, Braxton Urquhart, and Keith Christein. Christein has already made a big play in the special teams blocking a punt against Auburn in the season's first game.
Peyton Argent is a massive weapon on kicks and punts for the Bucs. Argent is one of the best kickers in the country.
Hewitt-Trussville lost their opening game at Central-Phenix City (37-21) but has a win over Gadsden City (64-17), and region wins over Oak Mountain (48-14) and Tuscaloosa County (35-7). Last week against Tuscaloosa County, the Huskies pretty much dominated the game from start to finish.
Hewitt-Trussville has a lot of weapons on offense, starting with quarterback Peyton Floyd. "Peyton is having a good start to the year," said Huskies head coach Josh Floyd. "We have been pretty efficient on offense, but Peyton understands the offense and takes control of it on Friday nights. He has done a great job of protecting the football." For the season, Floyd has completed 72-of-104 passing for 1,101 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception, along with 275 yards on 67 carries and eight touchdowns. Floyd has been the Huskies most outstanding offensive player through the season's first four games.
At running back, Kennedy Mitchell and Jaqson Melton will get carries. "Kennedy is a powerful running and has caught a few balls out of the backfield and has done a great job for us," added Floyd. "He is a strong runner with good speed when he gets in the open field. He is getting better throughout the year." Mitchell has 161 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns, and Melton has 190 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns on the season.
At the receiver position, the Huskies have some big play guys. Jadon Loving, Kadarius Barnes, Jacob Serena, and Brett Moseley will be the Huskies passing game targets. Loving has 283 yards on 16 receptions and two touchdowns, Barnes has 255 yards on 15 receptions and three touchdowns, and Moseley has 166 yards on nine receptions and two touchdowns. Tight end Donovan Price has 175 yards on 13 receptions on the season.
The offensive line is very good. Three-year starter Kade Martin has a lot of experience on the line, starting as a freshman. Skyler Carrillo, Braden Valdez, Trace Wilbanks, and center Trevor Pruet round out the offensive line. "Kade has got stronger every year along with improving his technique," said Floyd. "He understands the offense and understands what to do. He can play every position on the line. He is a very versatile player. He is like having another coach on the field." Martin has college offers from Vanderbilt, Central Florida, Nebraska, Troy, Arkansas State, and a few others.
The defense has been strong all season. Alabama commitment Hunter Osborne leads the way. Nose guard Tyrell Averhart is a run-stopper but can also get to the quarterback on passing downs. Averhart leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and two sacks on the season. South Florida commitment Connor Knight is having a solid season. Knight played at Pinson Valley last year. Also, Ayden Moore has done an excellent job for the Huskies defense. "This group is playing well for us," said Floyd. "We have a lot of guys with TFLs and making a lot of plays in the backfield. They are allowing our linebackers to play well and make plays for the defense. It starts with this group up front."
Braylon Chatman, Zavier Austin, Nick Hill, and Hunter Jones are in the linebacker position. Jones leads the team in tackles with 42 on the season. Tennessee commitment Rickey Gibson is a big-time player at the corner position. Not many teams like to throw his way. Tuscaloosa County tried it last week, and Gibson had his first interception of the season. Mark Smith, Gavin Williams, and Riggs Dunn get playing time in the secondary. Dunn had his first interception against Tuscaloosa County last week.
Riley Rigg handles the kicking duties for the Huskies. Last week against Tuscaloosa County, Rigg had a 55-yard punt in the game.
This one looks to be a good matchup between the two teams. Both teams are having their issues with penalties this season. We have said it and will repeat it; the team with the least turnovers and penalties will probably be the winner on Friday night.