Photograph by Ted Melton
Shaw runs over Vestavia in comeback win
Hoover's star running back Bradrick Shaw runs through a defender of arch rival Vestavia in the Bucs' historic comeback win.
No team could keep the Hoover Buccaneers out of the 2013 Super 6, but can the Auburn High Tigers keep the 6A championship trophy out of their hands? The state will find out at 7 p.m. Friday night when the two square off at The University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
This week’s game marks Hoover’s sixth consecutive trip to the state championship and a chance to extend its 29-game winning streak — the longest in school history. It’s also an opportunity to produce back-to-back 15-0 seasons.
On its way to the Super 6, Hoover (14-0) maintained poise as its junior quarterback Jack Hutcheson grew in the position. Behind a staunch defense and vaunted rushing attack, the Bucs developed into not just a cohesive unit but also a seemingly unstoppable force.
“I think we have grown as a team,” Hoover Head Football Coach Josh Niblett said. “This has been a group that has had to persevere through some inconvenience, but it has made us stronger in the long run and definitely put things in perspective.”
The state championship is a familiar place, as Bucs senior players have been to the game every year they’ve attended high school. Hoover has been to the final round of the Super 6 all six years Niblett has been head coach.
However, he said heading into this year’s title game meant putting the streaks aside.
“After the season or years down the road, I am sure it will mean a lot,” Niblett said of winning 29 straight. “But right now, we are focused on being 1-0. The streak means we are trying to do things better than they have ever been done before, one opportunity at a time.”
Auburn (13-1) suffered its only loss to Smiths Station earlier in the season. The team has since been on an 11-0 win streak and has risen to a No. 3 ranking in the state.
The Tigers boast wins over Carver Montgomery and McGill-Toolen in the 2013 playoffs. They average 134 receiving yards and 212 rushing yards per game. Their defense has also amassed 41 sacks and 13 interceptions.
Auburn shares only one opponent with Hoover this season. The Tigers defeated the Opelika Bulldogs 21-14 in October. Hoover played the Bulldogs on Halloween and left with a 29-7 victory.
According to the Alabama High School Football historical Society, Hoover and Auburn have never played each other.