Northridge battles No. 1-ranked Bucs at home tonight
Fri. September 21, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Northridge’s Bo Scarbrough (6) leads the Jaguars with 534 rushing yards and five touchdowns. (Photo by Jason Harless )
TUSCALOOSA | The last time the Hoover Bucs came to town, they left disappointed. Now they’re back as the top-ranked football team in Class 6A.
Hoover is a new member of Region 5, which includes Northridge, Hillcrest and Tuscaloosa County. Northridge gets its shot at the Bucs tonight.
Northridge, which opened in 2003, can’t match Hoover’s tradition. Josh Niblett, the former Demopolis Academy quarterback and University of Alabama tight end, coached the Bucs to the 2009 title. Hoover has played in the title game in four straight seasons under Niblett. The Bucs lost to Prattville 35-34 in the 2011 final in Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Northridge coach Mike Smith said his teams have faced No. 1-ranked opponents before, but never when the Jaguars were ranked No. 6 in Class 6A.
"Any time two top-10 teams play, it’s going to bring some excitement that normally wouldn’t be there," Smith said. "The name ‘Hoover’ speaks for itself. I know (Niblett) real well. He’s been doing a good job for a while now."
What Hoover doesn’t have is Bo Scarbrough, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior running back who leads the Jaguars with 534 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Scarbrough, who bounced back from knee surgery that caused him to miss the last three games last season, scored on a 92-yard run last week in a 28-13 win over Minor. Scarbrough recently made a verbal commitment to Alabama.
"They’re going to do what they do well, which is run the ball," Niblett said in a Wesley Sinor article, which was posted on al.com. "We have to contain (Scarbrough) and avoid giving up the big play."
Deonrdre Rogers, who scored on a 12-yard run against Minor, ranks second with 118 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Quarterback Tanner Cline has completed 19 of 39 passes for 229 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Senior James Cox is the leading receiver for the Jaguars with seven receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Smith said Cox is doubtful for tonight because of an illness and added that Malyk Ervin will have to "step up" as a receiver. Cyontai Lewis has four catches for 54 yards, including a touchdown on a pass from Cline last week.
"They swarm to the football," Smith said of the Hoover defense. "They play with about 15 linebackers that are bigger than our defensive linemen. I would say the biggest thing that they do is they’ve got so many kids that can run well and are athletic.
"I would hope that some of the stuff that we do on offense is kind of hard to defend in a week, but it’s not like they haven’t seen it. I would hope that having the element of having a very good running back can do some things for us. But you can’t line up against a good football team and just do one thing. They’ll take that away from you. We’re going to have to have some balance. We’re going to have to have a big night out of our quarterback and receivers and our offensive line has got to pass-protect"
Connor Short is back at quarterback for Hoover. Short threw for 217 yards and a touchdown in the championship game last year. Hoover has scored 130 points in the first three games.
"Offensively, they do whatever you don’t do," Smith said. "If you don’t do something well, they’re going to find it and take advantage of it. They’re going to try to make you defend the whole length of the field and the whole width of the field."
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