Photo by Kevin Brooks.
Hoover football 2014
Hoover’s Bradrick Shaw (27) is hoisted by teammates after scoring a touchdown in the Class 6A state semifinals against Vestavia Hills last season.
There are expectations, and then there are expectations.
The ones the Hoover High Buccaneers face in the 2014 season would daunt most high school football teams, but not the Bucs. They relish the challenge.
Coming off back-to-back state championships in Class 6A and on a 30-game winning streak, the Bucs now move into the newly minted Class 7A as favorites to capture the first title in the “super class” of the 32 largest schools in the state. Some prep experts believe the Bucs will win another high school national championship to go along with the one they claimed from USA Football Network after last season.
Heady stuff, but coach Josh Niblett doesn’t let it go to their heads.
“What’s neat for this group is the two groups that came before them have really set the stage to do something very special,” Niblett said. “Any time [you] go into a season and you’re 30-0, back-to-back state champions and USA media national champions … you come back and you’re expected to take us to 14-0, you’re expected to three-peat … with all this talent, all these guys that are going to sign and go SEC, you’re expected to go out and dominate everybody.
“It says in the Bible, to whom much is given, much is required. So that’s our attitude, that’s what we’ve taken on, with our abilities and talents, we’ve been given a lot, but much is required.”
At least half a dozen players have committed to a college or hold scholarship offers. The Bucs are riding that 30-game win streak and trailed just three minutes all of last season. Niblett is 84-6 in six seasons at Hoover, making six straight Super 6 finals and winning three state championships. How do they avoid getting complacent?
“We’ve got to come out every day and not lose our focus,” Niblett said. “That’s what I was telling them in the weight room today: ‘Look, don’t ever lose your focus. Don’t ever lose what you’re fighting for. If you ever forget about it, just stop and see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep that tunnel vision. Don’t let the distractions get in your head, don’t read all the newspaper articles, or listen to the radio or get on the Internet. Don’t listen about all the stars you’ve got beside your name.’ You’ve got to be careful about that.
“But what we’ve got here is we have a culture, we have core values that have nothing to do with football we go by every day, so all that other stuff kind of controls itself.”