Photo courtesy Ted Melton / actionsportspix.smugmug.com
Football Bucs 2013 state title 26
The weather will be steaming and so will the action inside Buccaneer Stadium.
Hoover High, rated No. 2 in the country by Athlon Magazine and rated No. 1 in Alabama’s Class 7A, hosts Miami Central of Florida. Central is rated fourth overall in the state of Florida and is ranked No. 15 by MaxPreps. Hoover is ranked third by MaxPreps.
Hoover brings a 30-game winning streak into the season and is coming off consecutive state championships. Miami Central won Florida's 6A state title three of the past four years, but the Rockets have lost three of their past four games against ranked opponents.
Hoover returns starting quarterback Jack Hutcheson, bruising running back Bradrick Shaw and physical wide receiver Justin Johnson on offense among many other weapons coach Josh Niblett can plug in. Alex Elam is an underrated piece of the offensive attack. Nick Eldridge and Alex Horn anchor the line.
Defensively, Alabama commitment Christian Bell at defensive end and Auburn pledge Darrell Williams are as good a place as any to start, but the defense is full of players who look the part of big-time players and perform as well. Zack Eldridge at nose will be a key in disrupting the running game. Linebackers Jeremiah Moon, Malcolm Cox and R.J. Arnold and defensive backs P.J. Hall and Micah Bagley are other components that make up what could be the best Buc defense in the Niblett era.
Hunter Schmith is set to kickoff and handle place kicks while Bailey Aultman will be the punter.
Miami Central lost 10 starters on offense and will rely on a very salty defense. The quarterback is slated to be Malik Atkins, who has transferred back to central after a season at Booker T. Washington. Clifford Cooper and Cedric Miller will lead a running-back-by-committee approach and Da’vante Phillips and Anthony Jones are the Rockets’ top receiving threats.
The defense is stacked with nine starters, including linebackers Permin Silva and Marquis Couch and defensive backs Calvin Brewton and Olin Cushion.
Heat could be a factor. As of Friday afternoon, the forecast called for highs approaching 100 degrees and a heat advisory has been issued through 9 p.m. Saturday.
Kickoff is 11 a.m. Saturday and the game will be televised on ESPN. A second game at Buccaneer Stadium between Alabama’s Class 6A No. 2 Clay-Chalkville and Niceville (Fla.) kicks off at 3 p.m. and will be carried on ESPNU.