Hoover 35 - Canton GlenOak 7
August 29, 2020
Cliff Hickman, Canton Repository
Lightning made Hoover High School football fans wait more than an hour past the scheduled time for the season-opening kickoff on Friday. Quarterback Connor Ashby made the wait worth it for Viking fans.
Hoover scored touchdowns after three first-half GlenOak turnovers as the Vikings went on to defeat the Golden Eagles 35-7.
Ashby showed why it was a bad idea to give him a short field after the first two turnovers set the Vikings up inside the GlenOak 10-yard line in the first quarter.
“Our defense did some nice things,” Hoover head coach Brian Baum said. “They stepped up and gave us as some good opportunities. When you have guys with experience, it allows you to keep the game plan simple.”
It seemed to work that way on offense as well. Ashby threw two short touchdowns to Brock Henne on nearly identical plays in consecutive drives to help the Vikings take a 14-0 lead. Both touchdowns were beautifully thrown fade routes to the corner of the end zone.
“Connor has a nice touch on the ball,” Baum said. “He made some really nice throws tonight.”
Henne grabbed the first while tumbling to the ground for a 6-yard TD catch. The second landed perfectly over Henne’s back shoulder and he barely broke his stride for an 8-yard TD catch.
That wasn’t the only impressive display of touch on passes Ashby showed in the first half. He hit Henne for a 36-yard gain and Beau Burtscher for a 27-yard gain later in the half while throwing on the run.
Ashby kept rolling after the half. He went 3-for-3 passing for 81 yards on his first drive of the second half. It culminated in a 23-yard screen pass to Drew Robinson for a touchdown. Ultimately, Ashby was 9-of-14 passing for 162 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Robinson was a perfect compliment to the potent Hoover passing game. Robinson carried 15 times for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was effective running between the tackles at times.
“Drew is a nice back,” Baum said. “He runs really hard.”
Robinson also made an impact on defense. He recovered a fumble that set up one of the short touchown passes to Henne.
It was a tough night on offense for GlenOak. The Golden Eagles turned it over on three consecutive drives at one point. Heavy rain near the end of the first half gave GlenOak an opportunity inside the Hoover 40, but the Golden Eagles went four-and-out.
Much of that can be attributed to an early season-ending injury to quarterback Isaiah Knox.
“Isaiah broke his wrist on the third play from scrimmage,” GlenOak head coach Beau Balderson said. “That’s a tough one. He worked really hard. You hate to see that happen to a young man like that. Our prays are with him and his family.”
A bright spot for the Golden Eagles was the hard running of Luke Tyler. Tyler carried 23 times for 141 yards. He had three carries of more than 10 yards against the otherwise stingy Viking defense.
“Luke’s a stud,” Balderson said. “That’s a guy we want to continue to feed the rock.”
GlenOak’s lone touchdown came on a 2-yard TD catch by Wyatt Harvey from Ricky Adams.
“Ricky was in a tough spot,” Balderson said. “He spent most of his time working out at wide receiver. When you throw in the elements, it was difficult. He did a good job of finding his feet in the second half.”
Adams helped GlenOak tie Hoover 7-7 in the second half. Something the Golden Eagles will try to use in the coming weeks as momentum.
“It would have been a dog fight without those early turnovers I think,” Balderson said.
Hoover will try to avoid a second-game letdown this season.
“We need to get better next week,” Baum said. “We can’t start believing we’ve arrived yet going into Week 2.”