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10 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010




Full Speed Ahead No Looking Back For Hoover Bucs BY CARY ESTES



he record book says the Hoover Bucs are the defending Class 6A state champions. But don’t tell that to Hoover head coach Josh Niblett. As far as he’s concerned, there is no need to make any connection between this year’s Hoover team and the 2009 edition. “We’re not defending anything or repeating anything. It’s a new year,” Niblett said. “This is a different group. This group has a legacy they have to build for themselves.” Of course, while that might be the attitude the Bucs are taking within the team, the outside world has a significantly different view of Hoover. The Bucs are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll, and it’s not even close. Hoover received 35 of 36 first-place votes, with second-place Prattville receiving the remaining vote. Several national polls have Hoover ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the country. That’s what happens when a program enjoys the run of success Hoover has had the past decade. Last year’s title was Hoover’s sixth in the 10-year span from 2000 to 2009 (though the first since 2005), to go along with three runner-up finishes. The Bucs’ 14-1 record last year means that since 2000, they have gone an astounding 135-12. So while Niblett is working to keep his players grounded, he acknowledges that most people have sky-high expectations for his team. “We understand the expectations within our community and this state, and within the country, really,” Niblett said. “We were very blessed to have had the success we had last year. “But while I want our kids to remember that feeling, the biggest thing is for them to understand how hard they worked to get there. And then you have to take it to even another level, because everybody you play this year is going to be shooting for that target on your back.” Hoover has some holes to fill this season, especially at wide receiver. The Bucs lost 10 starters (five on offense and five on defense), and while many of the backups from last year probably will prove to be talented players, the fact is some starters will begin this season lacking in playing experience. “It doesn’t matter whether you view the glass as half full or half empty. Either way, it still isn’t full,” Niblett said. “We are going to work as hard as we can to make sure we are a full-glass team.” A returning starting quarterback is always a good way to help fill that glass, and Hoover has that in Ryan Carter, who “has done a great job of developing,” Niblett said. The question is: To whom will Carter throw the ball now that Maudrecus Humphrey has left for Arkansas and Josh Magee has gone to Southern Miss? Enter Jaylon Denson, who already has

Members of the 2010 Hoover High School varsity football team are: Robert Richardson, Reginald Johnson, Preston Sanford, Josh Jackson, Dakota Daniel, Justin McArthur, Nigel Cribbs, Caleb Sims, Sam Gillikin, Scott Head, Christian Sanford, Xavier Woods, Payton Holmes, Bradley Bramblett, Ryan Carter, Larsen Real, Ce’Derrious Davis, Will McCallum, Drew Neill, Jerry Woody, Connor Coskery, Richard Gilliland, Montez Carlton, Harley Cadet, Brett Bowden, Philip Crochen, Braxton Lowe, Marcus Matthews, Malcolm Hollifield, Brandon Cochran, Blake Patterson, Matt McCay, Jason Jones, Brandon Clark, Craig White, Tyler Roberts, Andrew Nix, Ryan Winters, Raymond Morris, Teryence Glaze, Russell Brown, Kenneth Shanks, Shane Price, Jake Crozier, Connor Eagan, Jeremiah Harris, Eric Sledge, Taylor Mason, Jay Rogers, Jackson Armstrong, Jeremy Boyd, Kevin Belk, Logan Paul, John Salter, Grant Wyatt, Jacob Blenkinsop, Daniel Aust, Blake Burk, Juwan Hudson, Brandon Morgan, Carson Haley, William Eads, Markius Wright, Brandon Sly, Bryant Harris, Courtney Grant, Davis Vickery, Jaylon Denson, Damon Holditch, Michael Nysewander, Trent Dunne, Rod Toliver, Kadarius Embry, Henderson Jerrick, Rickney Hunter, Max Elliott and Brad Shaw. committed to Auburn. Denson had to bide his time last season at tight end, but now the 6-3, 205-pound senior has moved to wideout, where Niblett said he will be Hoover’s “big target.”

“He has good speed and is very physical,” Niblett said. “He gives us that presence on the outside that can create a matchup problem if somebody goes one-on-one with him. He’s a hard guy to tackle and a

Key Players to Watch

hard guy to cover because he’s so physical and strong.” Joining Denson in the receiving corps are Reginald Johnson and Dakota Daniel. Caleb Sims will line up at both receiver and running back and will also return punts. The Bucs return their leading rusher from last season, the speedy Justin McArthur. He will be paired with 200pound Brandon Cochran, giving Hoover a varied one-two punch out of the backfield. “Those two guys are a big part of our offense,” Niblett said. “Justin is more of a speed guy, a breakaway guy. Brandon is more of our physical guy who gets the hard yards inside and does a really good job blocking and catching the ball.”

Quick Facts

With Coach Josh Niblett are key Buc leaders, from left: Ryan Carter, Brandon Morgan, Blake Burk and Brett Bowden.

2009 record: 14-1 Head Coach: Josh Niblett Stadium: Regions Park Class Region: Class 6A, Region 6 Region opponents: Spain Park, Oak Mountain, Thompson, Pelham, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook State Championships: 7 - 1977, 1982, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009

Over the Mountain Journal High School Football Preview  

An overview of high school football in the Over the Mountain Communities for 2010

Over the Mountain Journal High School Football Preview  

An overview of high school football in the Over the Mountain Communities for 2010