By Blake Ells
Hoover cruised in its rematch with Thompson, earning a spot in the 7A state championship game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Dec. 6.
Larry McCammon rolled up 196 yards on 32 carries and had three touchdowns as the Bucs avenged their October loss when it counted most with a 31-12 victory.
“You knew it was out there,” Hoover head coach Josh Niblett said of his team’s loss earlier in the season. “But this game was about getting to the state championship. If you’re going to let redemption get to you, it’s just getting in the way of understanding what we’re trying to do, and that’s getting to the state championship.”
Thompson junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 3,820 yards this season, the fourth-best single season passing total in state history. But in the semifinals, his Warriors had just 268 yards of total offense, far off its usual potency.
“He does a really good job of getting the ball out,” Niblett said. “We had to give him a lot of different looks; whether they were no snap checking or playing fast, we tried not to give him the same looks every time. We tried to make him scramble to his left, because if you let him scramble to the right, he’s going to wear you out. We tried as much as we could to take away his strengths and to take away their run game.”
The Bucs now turn their attention to a rematch with Mobile’s McGill-Toolen. Last season, Hoover claimed its 12th state championship with a 17-7 victory over the Yellow Jackets at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. Their shot at a 13th will come in Tuscaloosa. It’s the 17th time the Bucs have been in the state championship game in the past 19 years.
Niblett said the team did a good job containing McGill-Toolen’s offense last season.
“Our biggest goal last year was containing their big plays and not letting them get the ball over the top,” he said. “We did a really good job. I think they got one big post route on us. It was a physical matchup. Both of these groups are different this year, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Niblett and his team took a couple of days off over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend before diving into preparations for the big one.