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Bucs, McGill square off once again in championship
Posted On:
Monday, December 04, 2017
Hoover Bucs (photo: Sarah Finnegan)
Hoover Bucs (photo: Sarah Finnegan)

The stage is set once again.

For the second consecutive season, the Hoover High School football team will face McGill-Toolen in the Class 7A championship game. This year’s title match is set for Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. 

The rematch was far from a foregone conclusion, but both teams took similar paths to arrive back at the same destination.

Hoover (10-3) faced back-to-back unbeaten teams in the quarterfinals and semifinals and conquered both. The Bucs took down Hewitt-Trussville, 56-21, in the quarters, before avenging its only Region 3 loss, to Thompson. Hoover jumped out to a 24-0 lead against the Warriors and cruised to a 31-12 victory to seal its spot in the state championship game for the 16th time in 18 years.

McGill-Toolen (13-0) has no blemish on its record but never climbed higher than No. 4 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll this fall. The Yellow Jackets were not viewed as favorably as last year, when star quarterback Bubba Thompson put up eye-popping displays on the field each week.

They also had to go through Central-Phenix City, who held the No. 1 spot from the first game on. McGill defeated Auburn, a team that had only lost to Central, 31-13 in the quarterfinals, and pulled out a thrilling overtime victory, 27-26, over Central in the semifinals. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the overtime period, but McGill blocked Central’s extra-point attempt to send the Yellow Jackets back to the title game.

Last year’s game between the two squads was controlled by the Bucs. Hoover used a swarming defense that held 10 opponents to single digits to keep McGill and its quarterback at bay much of the evening, only allowing a touchdown after the game was essentially decided and winning, 17-7.

Barret Pickering got Hoover on the board early with a field goal, and C.J. Sturdivant scored a 2-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 10-0 lead at the half. They would extend that lead on the first drive of the third quarter, as Sturdivant scored again to make it 17-0.

This year, the Bucs have paired Pickering — now a senior, one of the state’s top kickers and a Nebraska commit — with Will Reichard, a junior punter with offers from the likes of LSU and Oklahoma. Reichard executed a fake punt to perfection in the win over Thompson. Together, the two have made Hoover’s special teams unit (head coach Josh Niblett affectionately refers to it as ‘we-fense’) one of the best in the state.

See more from the Hoover Sun

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