JoxPreps Line: McGill-Toolen vs. Hoover (-7)

All-Time Series: Hoover leads 1-0

By all accounts, McGill-Toolen was expected to fall off this year. They lost their quarterback Bubba Thompson to the MLB draft, top WR to UCF and top linebacker to Troy. On top of all of that, they lost their head coach to last year’s 6A runner-up Opelika. The expectation before the season was that Central-Phenix City would coast to the Super 7.

McGill-Toolen currently sits at 13-0 and in the Super 7 for the third time in a row, asking why they were ever doubted. That includes a 1-point overtime win over Central-Phenix City in the semifinals. It wasn’t easy, but McGill-Toolen is back for revenge.

They face a different test this week in the Hoover Bucs, a team that has won 13 state titles and handed McGill-Toolen their last loss in the championship last year 17-7.

It’s been a little bit of a different year for Hoover. It’s the second time in three years that the Bucs haven’t won the region title, falling to Thompson 32-25 in the final region game of the season. They also lost to two other regular season opponents, although it was two tough ones – falling to Grayson (GA) 35-26 to start the season, then arguably the toughest school in the country in IMG Academy (FL) 32-21 to end the season.

Ending on a two-game losing streak put Hoover in unfamiliar territory heading into the playoffs. The last time they lost back-to-back games was in 2014 when they fell to Miami Central (FL) and Colquitt County (GA). The last time it involved an in-state team as one of the losses, you have to go back to 1998, the year before Rush Propst took over. Hoover let those losses become motivation as they ripped through Sparkman, Hewitt-Trussville and even Thompson, winning those games by an average margin of 32 points.

Stat McGill-Toolen Hoover
Record 13-0 (8-0) 10-3 (6-1)
Region Finish 1 2 (Thompson)
Final ASWA Rank #4 #6
Points Per Game 31.6 37.3
PPG Allowed 10.8 16.2
Opponents Record 91-74 98-50
Round One Jeff Davis 35-14 Sparkman 49-7
Round Two #5 Auburn 31-13 #3 Hewitt-Trussville 56-21
Round Three #1 Central-Phenix City 27-26 (OT) #2 Thompson 31-12

The story in this game will be defense, as it has been in the last two Super 7 games with McGill-Toolen. The Yellow Jackets beat Spain Park two years ago 14-12 and fell last year 17-7. Neither McGill-Toolen, nor their opponents have even scored 30 points combined in the two games.

McGill-Toolen’s defense gives up an average of 10.8 points per game, while Hoover’s gives up 16.2. Hoover has a lot of talent on offense, such as Auburn wide receiver commits Shedrick Jackson and George Pickens, along with a quarterback in Jalen Parker who is looking better every week and Larry McCammon who is shredding defenses on the ground. McGill-Toolen is no slouch either with quarterback Sheldon Layman who has done well stepping in for Bubba Thompson and running back Bryan Hill who has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season.

Last year’s meeting was the first between these two schools. They meet again Wednesday night at 7:00 pm in Bryant-Denny Stadium for a rematch. It may not be the last time we see these two programs meeting in the Super 7.

As for this year’s rematch – many people have doubted McGill-Toolen all season, and are doubting them again versus Hoover in the championship.

That’s just the way they like it.