Photo by Kevin Brooks.
Coach Josh Niblett leads the Bucs onto the field for a game.
Hoover High School's Buccaneers, the three-time defending state champions and the inaugural 7A champs in 2014, hit the practice field for the first time Monday in preparation for the 2015 football season.
Monday was the first day Alabama high schools could hold practice. Teams can have two-a-day practices one day and then can practice only once the next day. New rules also mandate no consecutive days of full-speed contact hitting to limit the risk of concussions.
Coach Josh Niblett said the first practice went well Monday. Tuesday morning the Bucs lifted weights and were set to practice in the afternoon.
"Things are going good," Niblett said. "We're flying around. Biggest thing is we're in helmets, so it is what it is. Our biggest thing is being able to get some stuff on tape (for evaluation). Everything right now's about the mental part of the game and getting ourselves in shape. Then once we put the pads on, it'll become a little more physical. But we try to do a really good job of taking care of our kids. We don't tackle to the ground very much at all. We'll have one scrimmage where we'll tackle to the ground but all the other ones like when we're in practice, that's just not what we're about so we want to make sure we can keep them healthy."
Hoover opens the season Saturday, Aug. 22, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., against Oakland High School. Oakland, 10-2 last season, has won three Tennessee state championships -- in 1984, 1998 and 2008. The Pats are in Class 6A and in the same district as Blackman, which Hoover defeated last year 35-20.
Nicknamed the Patriots, Oakland will be led by a new coach in Kevin Creasy. Creasy, 40, previously led Trousdale County (Tenn.) to three state championships in seven seasons in the lower classes of 1A and 2A.
Niblett said Tuesday that at this point he knew Oakland was big up front and liked to run the quarterback.
The game will be held at Middle Tennessee State University's Floyd Stadium, which seats 30,788.
The game will be the nightcap of an Alabama-Tennessee showdown. Class 6A champion Clay-Chalkville faces Blackman at 3 p.m. Hoover and Oakland kick off at 7 p.m.
There is no TV scheduled for these games.