Played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn
HOOVER (11-2) vs. PRATTVILLE (11-2)
When: 7 p.m. today
How they got here: Hoover def. Buckhorn, 38-13; Tuscaloosa County, 42-7; Gadsden City, 42-7; Prattville def. Baker, 41-35 (OT); Central-Phenix City, 26-7; Foley, 42-17
State Playoff Championships: Hoover – 10 (1977, 1982 (co-champion) as Berry High; 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2013 as Hoover); Prattville – 5 (1984, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011)
Last Finals Appearance: Hoover – 2013 (defeated Auburn, 20-3); Prattville – 2011 (defeated Hoover, 35-34)
Record in Finals: Hoover, 9-7-1; Prattville, 5-2
Series Record: Prattville has won three of the five head-to-head meetings, all of them coming in the state finals including the last encounter in the 2011 Class 6A championship game, 35-34
Players to watch: Hoover – RB Bradrick Shaw (1,154 rushing yards with 15 TDs was MVP of last year’s Super 6), QB Jack Hutcheson (Senior is 26-2 as a starter; tossed 18 TDs with 1,638 passing yards), RB Marcus Webb (1,031 yards, 15 TDs), DL Christian Bell (6-foot-4, 220-pound Alabama commit heads an athletic defensive front), LB Darrell Williams (6-foot-3, 225-pound Auburn commit is a three-year starter); Prattville – QB Keith Washington (6-foot-2, 175-pound seniors has 1,190 yards rushing with 19 TDs plus 1,451 passing yards with 17 TDs and only 5 interceptions through the air), RB Kingston Davis (6-foot-1, 230 pound force gained 1,432 yards rushing with 15 total TDs), WR Seth Knotts (39 receptions for 684 yards and 10 TDs), LB K.J. Lawrence (101 total tackles), OL Kenny Thomas (6-foot-6, 330-pound mountain has several major college offers and is driving force behind a resurgent line).
Noteworthy: Hoover makes its 14th championship game appearance in the past 15 years after dropping its first two games against out-of-state foes. It was the first time since 1994 the Bucs opened with a pair of losses, although the 2007 squad was forced to forfeit three wins after an opening loss. A win would give the Bucs their 11th title, equaling Hazelwood’s 11 championships. With last week’s semifinal win, Hoover has won 40 straight home playoff games dating back to the 1995 quarterfinals. The Bucs have a 39-game winning streak against in-state opponents, last losing to Prattville in the 2011 championship game. The Bucs have become the gold standard with an 85-19-1 overall playoff record, but are only 9-7-1 in the finals. Coach Josh Niblett is 95-8 during his tenure with the Bucs, having won a title in 2004 at Cordova in Class 3A.
Prattville finished as the third seed in Region 2 but makes its makes its eighth visit to the finals this year after a two-year hiatus. This will be the sixth time the Lions have faced Hoover in the title game, but the first at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Coach Chad Anderson leads Prattville coaches in his first championship game as he completes his third season at his alma mater. Prattville won three straight playoff games on the road, which will make the Lions battled-tested for the challenge ahead. The No. 8 Lions are peaking at the right time, following a first-round overtime win at Baker with a convincing win over former Prattville coach Jamey Dubose at Central-Phenix City to atone for a regular season loss. The convincing win over Foley in the semifinals has the Lions poised to claim their sixth title in eight trips to the championship game.