Hoover’s offense seemed to be in search of its identity early in the Bucs’ football season.
Turns out, it was pretty simple.
“Our game plan all year was pound the rock, pound the ball,” said running back Marcus Webb.
The Bucs certainly did that in the Class 7A state championship game against Prattville. Webb, named the game’s most valuable player, rushed for 153 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. Fellow running back Bradrick Shaw rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. The two seniors were virtually unstoppable in the Bucs’ 35-21 win.
Prattville won the coin toss and deferred. That turned out to play into the Bucs’ hands.
“I think the biggest thing was once they decided to defer and we took the ball we knew we were going to have to try to establish to try to establish the run game a little bit,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett said. “But we had some shots we wanted to be able to take in the throwing game.”
The Bucs went 80 yards in 13 plays, eating up half of the first quarter. Much of the damage came on the ground, 10 running plays, the longest being a 17-yard run by Webb. That opened up the play-action game, a 15-yarder from Jack Hutcheson to Leonard Wood being the big play. The touchdown came on a 7-yard pass from Hutcheson to Quincy Cox.
Hoover led 7-0 and never trailed.
The two backs each now have state championship game MVP honors, as Shaw was the 2013 MVP.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Niblett said. “They’re two of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever been around, but they’re also two of the biggest competitors I’ve ever been around, too… They try to outdo each other in practice every day, but at the same time they respect each other so much, they’re brothers. When you see one score, the other one is probably happier than the one that’s scored.”
Niblett said each of the backs brings something a little different to the table and that he didn’t think either one of them would want to play without the other one. He also credited assistant coach Jason Kervin for keeping them fresh.
“These two are so durable,” Niblett said, “and people don’t write about this much. But when you touch the ball as much as these two do and don’t turn the ball over, have great ball security, and [are] able to finish games and not have injuries over two years, [it] is second to none. And these guys have never missed a game. So I’m very proud of that.”
Hoover’s offensive line, led by seniors Chance Pruitt, Ziggy Arledge and Alex Horn, dominated the line of scrimmage all night, giving Webb and Shaw wide running lanes.
The Bucs made some adjustments, Niblett said, as Prattville tried to overplay the outside running lanes.
“We had a game plan of trying to do some things out on the perimeter, and we adjusted that just a little bit because they overplayed us to the perimeter. The game plan was to do what we’ve been doing, stick with our identity that we’ve had.”