Ted Melton/ ActionSportsPix
Spain Park Football
Hoover's Ben Abercrombie (30) defends a pass in a game between Spain Park and Hoover on Friday, September 9, 2016, at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.
Ben Abercrombie didn’t just utter the word, “huge.” He put a little extra emphasis the “u” sound, as if he were describing something in the most dramatic fashion he knew how.
That was the defensive back’s initial reaction following Hoover High School’s 26-8 thumping of Spain Park on Friday night at the Hoover Met in front of a near-capacity crowd.
“It was just a sweet feeling,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s awesome.”
Abercrombie was part of the Bucs’ team that lost the city championship trophy for the first time, after it collected dust in the Hoover athletic department for the first 13 years of the rivalry’s existence.
His team went on a mission to get that hardware back.
“Being the first team to lost to them, it gave us a chip on our shoulder,’ he said. “It was great to finally get it back.”
Finally? But Spain Park only claimed it on October 1, 2015, less than a calendar year past. But when becoming accustomed to having something for 13 consecutive years, losing it for 11 months can feel like an eternity.
“it’s amazing,” said Chase Brown. “We’ve been waiting a year for it. We’ve been waiting since [October], and it feels good.”
More about Brown later.
On the first drive of the game, the Bucs let Spain Park quarterback Hunter Howell know they were prepared. Linebacker Eli West read Howell’s eyes and stepped in front of a pass across the middle to make the interception.
Howell was coming off a near-perfect game against Vestavia Hills last week, in which he completed 19 of 22 throws for 218 yards and three touchdowns. That night would not repeat itself, and the Hoover defense is to thank.
“We knew what were up for,” Abercrombie said. “We had a good week of practice. We were ready to go.”
Spain Park had its chances to capitalize, but the Hoover defense continued to stand tall. Midway through the second quarter, the Jags began to pick up steam on offense, and faced 4th and goal from the 1-yard line. Larry Wooden took the handoff and was stood up for no gain.
The Jags gained just 249 total yards on the evening, and Brown was the beneficiary of a pair of big plays in the second half.
In the third quarter, he pulled off both ends of a tip drill, knocking a pass in the air and coming down with it himself for an interception.
Brown decided to erase all doubt with another pick late in the game. Based on the offense, he was taught to predict the corner post, and that’s what he got.
“I did and I jumped it and I came out with the pick,” he said.
Josh Niblett was proud of the way his defense performed, but to be expected, he sees areas to improve.
“We made plays on D when we needed to make plays,” the Bucs’ head coach said. “We got to continue to get better, continue to grind and do what we’re going to do. These kids are going to do that.”