Ted Melton/ ActionSportsPix.SmugMug.com
Hoover Spain Park 2015 reg season
Spain Park senior wide receiver Parker Kelley and Hoover senior defensive back P.J. Hall battle for a pass during the first 2015 matchup between Hoover and Spain Park on Oct. 2, 2015. The Bucs and Jags square off again in the 7A semifinals on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015.
If Spain Park (11-1) wants to advance to its second state championship game in school history, the team will have to duplicate the same result it took 14 years to achieve.
After falling to cross-town rival Hoover (10-2) 13 times between 2001 and 2015, save a forfeit victory in 2007, the Jags halted their losing streak with a resounding 17-0 triumph over the Bucs on Oct. 1 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The watershed victory, which ended Hoover’s 43-game in-state win streak and handed the Bucs their first shutout defeat since 1991, vaulted the Jags into contention and legitimized their state title hopes.
Hoover, on the other hand, dipped into somewhat of a downward spiral following the loss, falling again to Vestavia Hills just two weeks later.
Five weeks down the road, however, it’s safe to say the Bucs are back on their feet and will enter Friday night’s showdown with a wave of momentum.
Over the past four games, Hoover’s offense has outscored opponents 138-21, while the defense has pitched two shutouts, blanking Hewitt-Trussville 38-0 on Oct. 23 and Vestavia 24-0 in last week’s state quarterfinal.
Having not tasted defeat since its season-opening, triple-overtime loss to Austin on Aug. 21, Spain Park carries an 11-game win streak into the highly anticipated state semifinal matchup.
Looking ahead, the Jags’ defense, which has tallied four total shutouts while holding opponents to 117 points all season (9.75 points per game), will need to once again neutralize fleet-footed Hoover quarterback Chris Vacarella.
In October, Spain Park effectively contained the dual-threat playmaker, applying pressure all game along the defensive front and adroitly spying him with one of their athletic linebackers.
Meanwhile, the Spain Park secondary, which had surrendered a number of big pass plays the previous week in a 31-28 overtime victory against Hewitt-Trussville, held the Bucs’ wide receivers in check.
Offensively, Spain Park relied on its power running game to open up the passing attack. Running backs Larry Wooden and Wade Streeter consistently plowed ahead for tough yardage behind the Jags’ brawny offensive line, allowing quarterback Joey Beatty to drop back in play action and find his open receivers.
The winner of Friday night’s game earns the right to play either McGill-Toolen Catholic or Central- Phenix City in the 7A state championship game on Dec. 2
Kickoff for Jags vs. Bucs is set for 7 p.m. at Jaguar Stadium.