Hoover claims first of seven 2017 Alabama high school football titles

Hoover claims first of seven 2017 Alabama high school football titles
The Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs continue in Tuscaloosa Thursday and Friday. (Getty Images)

The Hoover defense had just denied McGill-Toolen Catholic three times after the Yellow Jackets had first and goal at the Hoover 9. A field goal would pull the team from Mobile to within a competitive eight points and the game could have gone either way.

Eighteen seconds later, the floodgate opened and Hoover was on its way to a 48-20 win and the Class 7A Alabama High School Athletic Association championship in Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama.

Hoover led 14-6 when its defense barred McGill-Toolen from the end zone. On the first play of its ensuing possession, Hoover senior quarterback Jalen Parker faked a jet sweep to the left before finding Shedrick Jackson on a wheel route to the right that yielded a 70-yard TD pass.

Matters would get worse for the Yellow Jackets, who fumbled on the first play of their next possession and the Bucs’ Isaiah Hubbard recovered. Shortly thereafter, Vonte Brackett ran 4 yards into the end zone.

By halftime, Hoover led 34-6 and the Bucs were on their way to a second straight state championship, fifth in the past six years and 13th overall, including a co-championship in 1982.

This was Hoover’s first 7A title won in Tuscaloosa.

“We reeled off beating three undefeated teams to win this thing,” said coach Josh Niblett, who won his seventh title at Hoover and eighth overall, including the 2004 Class 3A crown at Oneonta. “I’m speechless. I’m emotional. I played here (at the University of Alabama) and for us to play our best game tonight was something special.”

McGill-Toolen (13-1) has reached the 7A finals three years in a row, winning a state crown in 2015 and finishing as the runner-up in 2016 and 2017.

Parker completed 11 of 15 passes for 265 yards and four touchdowns to earn MVP honors as the Bucs ended the season with an 11-3 record.

Jackson finished with six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. George Pickens had two catches for 61 yards and two scores. Larry McCammon had 106 yards rushing on 13 carries and Brackett had 59 on 10 runs.

Hoover’s defense was led Myles Spurling with nine tackles, Hubbard and Greg Russell with eight each, Adrian Hill with seven and Devon Scott with six, including three for 24 yards in losses.

The Super 7 State Championships continue Thursday with Class 3A, 1A and 5A championships at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

All games will be televised live over the Raycom Media Network of stations across Alabama. The NFHS Network will livestream the Raycom production over its subscriber-based network, and the games will also be livestreamed on YouTube.

Here is the lineup for the remaining title contests.

THURSDAY

Class 3A: Randolph County (13-1) takes on Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1) at 11 a.m. The game can be seen on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8RJGu0b_UTU.

Class 1A: Sweet Water (12-1) faces Pickens County (12-2) at 3 p.m. in a game that can be seen at https://youtu.be/zFt_J6Bny0w.

Class 5A: Briarwood Christian (14-0) plays St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1) at 7 p.m. That game can be seen at https://youtu.be/vWqD_ARIe2Q.

FRIDAY

Class 4A: Fayette County (12-2) battles UMS-Wright (12-2) at 11 a.m. in a game that can be seen at https://youtu.be/rLHYuWbdRKA.

Class 2A: Lanett (14-0) takes on Leroy (12-2) at 3 p.m. That game can be seen at https://youtu.be/cscyiyPmfoY.

Class 6A: Wetumpka (13-1) faces Pinson Valley (14-0) in the finale at 7 p.m. That game is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RSiT5QWMs0.

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