By Rubin E. Grant
Josh Lundy has taken all the changes to Hoover’s first game of the 2020 high school football season in stride.
The Bucs were supposed to open the season with a game at the Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta as one of 20-plus teams in the Corky Kell Classic.
But because of COVID-19, the Bucs’ game against Lowndes County (Ga.) on Aug. 22 was moved to Mill Creek High School in Georgia. The NFL’s new protocols would not allow any teams to play inside the dome before the Atlanta Falcons’ opened their season.
Now, the Bucs aren’t going to Georgia at all. Georgia pushed its high school season back two weeks and, because of Alabama’s decision to start its season as scheduled in late August, Hoover had to scramble to find a first-game opponent to replace Lowndes County.
The Bucs found a willing partner and will play host to Dothan Aug. 21 at the Hoover Met.
“We were excited about playing in the Mercedes-Benz Dome, but we’ll play anyone anywhere,” said Lundy, Hoover’s senior quarterback. “We’re excited to play Dothan.
“It’s the same deal for us. It’s no different. We have to get ready for whatever comes our way,” he said.
Hoover coach Josh Niblett is happy the Bucs were able to schedule Dothan for their opener.
“We were in (a) situation that when Georgia moved back its season we needed a game,” Niblett said. “We looked at the schedules where Alabama teams were playing Georgia teams. Dothan had three Georgia schools on their schedule and had a jamboree against Park Crossing in week zero.
“They moved Park Crossing to a regular season game and agreed to come to Hoover to play us.”
Niblett already had a good working relationship with Dothan coach Smitty Grider.
“The year before, we went there to play them in a spring training game and they were excited to come here,” Niblett said. “We like to play the best competition and Dothan will be a good matchup for us. They are very athletic and very well coached.
“This will be their first year in Class 7A. They played 6A last year after combining two schools (Dothan High and Northview). They’ve been together a year now so they will have continuity.”
Hoover’s remaining schedule of non-region games remains intact. The Bucs will play Bessemer City on Aug. 28 and Prattville on Sept. 25.
The game against Dothan is in keeping with Niblett’s strategy to play schools from south Alabama during the regular season.
“We like to play schools from the south to gauge how we measure up,” Niblett said. “We already had Prattville on the schedule. We played Opelika one year and ended up playing them in the state championship game.”