Photo by Barry Stephenson.
Hoover quarterback Christopher Vacarella takes off for a touchdown run against Oak Mountain.
Game 1, 8/22
HOOVER 24, OAKLAND (TENN.) 6
The Hoover Bucs opened the football season in the inaugural Middle Tennessee Football Classic with a win over Oakland High of Murfreesboro.
The game was played at Floyd Stadium on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
The Bucs defense held the Patriots to 114 yards of total offense. Christopher Vacarella was 12-of-21 for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
Hoover left points on the field, coach Josh Niblett said. That was largely due to 13 penalties for 126 yards.
“First game, a lot of things we got to do better,” Niblett said. “A lot of it was before the play and after the play. We’ll get that squared away. Too much energy a couple of times, but we got that corrected.”
Game 2, 8/28
HOOVER 42, MANATEE (FLA.) 21
Any effects from a short week of practice for the Hoover High football team failed to show up as the Bucs (2-0) dominated every phase in a convincing victory over Manatee from Bradenton, Fla., on a rainy night at the Hoover Met.
About the only thing that slowed down the Hoover offense was a lengthy lightning delay that extended halftime for more than an hour. The biggest problems for the Hoover defense were some drive-extending penalties on third down.
“The kids did a great job understanding what we wanted to do game plan wise in all three phases of the game,” said Niblett. “We made some mistakes in the game (but) that’s a good football team. I’m just so proud of the kids, proud of our effort.”
Quarterback Chris Vacarella was sharp early, completing his first nine passes, and ended the evening 16 of 26 for 241 yards with a long touchdown strike to Quincy Cox. The running game also clicked with the Bucs gaining 178 yards on 27 carries and scoring four times.
Game 3, 9/4
HOOVER 21, MOUNTAIN BROOK 14
Talk of untimely penalties and drive-altering turnovers could have taken up Josh Niblett’s entire visit with the media following a hard-fought win.
The subject did come up. But the Hoover High football coach made a much more important point after his team did enough to knock off Mountain Brook in the Class 7A, Region 3 opener at Spartan Stadium.
“Championship teams find a way to win when they’re not playing their best,” Niblett said.
The biggest plays on a night filled with mistakes came with the score tied at 14 in the final five minutes of the game. It began with cornerback P.J. Hall stepping in front of a Mountain Brook receiver to intercept a pass thrown by Spartan quarterback Connor Adair with just under five minutes left in game that was tied at 14 at the time.
Three C.J. Sturdivant runs netted the 35 yards needed for the go-ahead score with the touchdown run covering 9 yards.
Game 4 9/11
HOOVER 17, OAK MOUNTAIN 14
Top-ranked Hoover survived another tough challenge from a Class 7A, Region 3 opponent, this time from Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park.
Christopher Vacarella rushed for touchdowns of 65 and 5 yards but the issue wasn’t settled until Jeremiah Moon picked off a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game.
The Bucs (4-0, 2-0) also got a 37-yard field goal by Barret Pickering.
Hoover extended its in-state winning streak to 42 games and its record to 13-0 against Oak Mountain.