By Rubin E. Grant
Josh Lundy has always wanted to play quarterback for the Hoover Bucs. It’s something he dreamed about as a kid while growing up in Hoover.
He has been on the Bucs’ varsity since he was freshman, but this season, his senior year, he’s finally Hoover’s full-fledged starting quarterback. And he’s making the most of the opportunity.
Lundy has helped lead Hoover to a 6-0 start, completing 91 of 147 passes (61.9%) for 1,505 yards and 18 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Last Friday in a 28-6 victory against Prattville, he completed 14 of 26 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
A soft-spoken youngster, Lundy downplayed his performance through six games.
“It’s been good, but I couldn’t do it without our new coaches, the offensive line doing its job and the receivers and running backs doing their jobs,” Lundy said. “It’s been a collective effort.”
Hoover head coach Josh Niblett was effusive in his assessment of the way the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Lundy has played.
“I’ve been proud of him,” Niblett said. “The thing that’s so awesome is the way he developed in the offseason. He’s always worked his tail off, learning the offense and in the weight room.
“He makes real good decisions and he understands that the better he plays the better it is for us. His awareness of the offense and the respect he has gotten is because his teammates know he will make plays. That’s something you earn. It’s not given to you. He’s confident in what he’s doing.”
Lundy said it’s just a matter of being in the program for four years.
“I’ve played since I was a freshman, so it helps being experienced,” he said. “I got in some games my sophomore season, so it’s three years of playing.”
Lundy started five games during his junior season, in 2019, when Bucs’ starter Robby Ashford was out several weeks with a foot injury. Niblett said that helped Lundy for this season, but the coach traces his development to earlier in his career.
“When he was a freshman and Robby was injured (with a shoulder injury), Josh had to take all the reps in spring practice, and I think that helped him develop,” Niblett said. “And when he was able to start five games last year, that was critical to his development.
“This year, he’s gotten bigger physically. He put on 25 pounds in the offseason. Even now, when we’re done practice, he goes to work out on his own. He felt he needed to be stronger and be more durable.”
Lundy has benefitted from the return of Niblett’s brother, Tad Niblett, to the coaching staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Tad Niblett was Hoover’s offensive coordinator from 2008 to 2014, before spending the past five years as Foley’s head coach.
“It’s been great working with him,” Lundy said. “He’s played quarterback, so he understands the position.”
Lundy has soaked up the knowledge he’s gotten from both Nibletts. Josh Niblett is also a former quarterback.
“He’s a really quick learner,” Josh Niblett said of Lundy. “He’s proactive and not just reactive. He’s not just reacting to what the defense is doing, but he’s proactive by seeing what’s happening before the ball is snapped and then being reactive. It’s just the way he sees the game. He looks at the whole field and that three or four seconds allow him to make better decisions.”
Niblett also said it helps Lundy that the entire Bucs’ offense is playing well. Hoover is averaging 39.8 points per game, featuring receivers such as Malik Thomas, R.J. Hamilton and Isaac Lavoy.
“Our line is doing a good job of protecting him and our receivers are playing fast and winning matchups,” Niblett said.
The Bucs are 3-0 in Class 7A, Region 3 play, but now they are entering the difficult part of their region schedule, beginning Friday at Hewitt-Trussville (5-1, 2-1). They follow that with region games at home against crosstown rival Spain Park and Tuscaloosa County, and then they close the regular season at No. 1 Thompson, the defending Class 7A state champion.
“We’ve got the toughest part of our schedule coming up,” Lundy said, “but I think we’re ready for it.”