Week 1 Football Primer: Bucs host out-of-state foe

Week 1 Football Primer: Bucs host out-of-state foe

High school football season is officially underway. Many teams played their first official contest last week, and Week 1 offers several great matchups. Here’s a look at this week’s slate of games:

Hoover (1-0) vs. St. John’s College (1-0)

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium

Hoover faces its first of two out-of-state opponents this season, as the Bucs entertain St. John’s College High School out of Washington D.C.

What to watch: Hoover put on a dominant display in beating defending Class 6A champion Pinson Valley last Saturday. But the Bucs will be facing a St. John’s team with several Division I players, including running back Keilan Robinson, who is committed to Alabama.

Impact player: Hoover quarterback Robby Ashford excelled in his first career start last weekend. Against Pinson, Ashford went 19-of-25 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns.

Last meeting: Hoover and St. John’s have never met on the football field.

What this game means: The game provides another chance for Hoover to show its strength against a nationally regarded program and will more than prepare them to start the region slate against Thompson next week.

Spain Park (1-0) at Bessemer City (1-0)

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Bessemer City High School

Spain Park looks to back up its season-opening win over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa as it makes the trip to Bessemer City on Friday.

What to watch: Spain Park took down Hillcrest, a semifinalist in Class 6A a year ago, to start the season on a high note. The Jags will look to take that momentum into the second game after a strong overall performance. Bessemer City is attempting to do the same after defeating Huffman last week.

Impact player: Spain Park running back Jalen Henderson was a workhorse for the Jags last week, piling up 172 yards on 31 carries. Henderson has bided his time and waited his turn for the opportunity to be the bell cow for the Jags offense.

Last meeting: Spain Park defeated Bessemer City, 24-6, on Oct. 30, 2015. Spain Park holds a 2-0 edge in the series.

What this game means: It’s another chance to gain experience for Spain Park’s new starter under center, Mason Pronk, and the rest of the team before starting region play next week.

Mountain Brook (1-0) vs. Center Point (0-0)

Date: Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Spartan Stadium

Mountain Brook hosts Center Point on Senior Night this Thursday. The Spartans knocked off Northridge last week to open up the season.

What to watch: Mountain Brook’s top running back, AJ Gates, was injured early in last week’s game against Northridge. For a Spartans offensive attack already short on returning experience, Gates’ presence — or lack thereof — could affect the game in a big way.

Impact player: Mountain Brook quarterback Strother Gibbs, in his first varsity start last week, completed 11-of-13 passes for 150 yards and scored three total touchdowns. The sophomore signal caller has big shoes to fill following Hamp Sisson’s graduation last year.

Last meeting: Mountain Brook and Center Point have never met on the football field.

What this game means: This game is Mountain Brook’s second and final tune-up game before the start of Class 7A, Region 3 play, so it will be important for the Spartans to work out any additional kinks.

Briarwood (0-0) at Chelsea (0-1)

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Chelsea High School

Briarwood plays its first official contest as it travels to Chelsea. The Hornets fell to Oak Mountain, 42-9, last week.

What to watch: Briarwood failed to put any points on the board in its jamboree contest against Vestavia Hills last week, but the Lions are expected to be one of the top teams in Class 5A once again. Chelsea fell to 7A Oak Mountain last week in head coach Dustin Goodwin’s first game, so it will be interesting to see how each team responds.

Impact player: Briarwood quarterback JR Tran-Reno is moving under center this fall for the Lions after spending the last two seasons at running back. The Vanderbilt commit played quarterback through his freshman season.

Last meeting: Briarwood defeated Chelsea, 19-7, on Sept. 1, 2017. Briarwood holds a 20-9-1 edge in the all-time series.

What this game means: Local bragging rights. Briarwood snapped Chelsea’s three-game winning streak in the rivalry last fall, and the Hornets are eager to pick up an initial win for their new head coach.

Homewood (1-0) at Vestavia Hills (0-0)

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Thompson Reynolds Stadium

Vestavia Hills plays its first official game of the season, as the Rebels host Homewood. The Patriots defeated Hueytown, 18-7, last week to open the season.

What to watch: Homewood snapped a decade-long Vestavia Hills reign in the rivalry last fall, when the Patriots knocked off the Rebels, 6-0. Homewood’s offense looked strong in the first half against Hueytown last week, and Vestavia’s defense blanked Briarwood in a jamboree contest.

Impact player: Homewood wide receiver Trae Ausmer, listed at 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds, had a breakout game for the Patriots last week. He gained 64 yards on the first play of the game and finished the night with 151 yards on six catches.

Last meeting: Homewood defeated Vestavia Hills, 6-0, on Sept. 1, 2017.

What this game means: A win over Vestavia Hills, a 7A opponent, propelled Homewood to a 9-0 start last fall. It is also the only full game of preparation for the Rebels before starting region play next week.

John Carroll (0-1) at Leeds (0-1)

Date: Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Leeds High School

John Carroll travels to Leeds to take on a strong Greenwave program that won Class 4A state championships in 2014 and 2015.

What to watch: John Carroll did not fare well in its season opener last week, as the Cavs fell to St. Clair County, 45-0. The Cavs will look to respond and show significant improvement in their second game.

Impact player: John Carroll running back Aaron Mason was a bright spot for the Cavs in an otherwise dreary performance last week. The freshman picked up 60 yards on 16 carries.

What this game means: This game represents a chance for both teams to pick themselves off the mat after blowout defeats in the first game of the season (Leeds lost to Sylacauga, 56-10).