Hoover’s Ashford-to-Pickens connection sinks Spain Park

Published 11:44 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

HOOVER – Just when it seemed Spain Park High School’s football team was building some momentum against its cross-town rival, Hoover’s Robby Ashford and George Pickens teamed up to crush the Jaguars’ hopes in a 32-7 win on Friday, Oct. 12.

Though Hoover had scored in every way possible in the first half—a touchdown on a pass from Josh Lundy to MJ Rogers followed by a point-after by Will Reichard, a safety and a field goal by Reichard—Spain Park cut the deficit to five points with 4:05 remaining before halftime.

Harrison Barker passed the Jags down the field, and on third-and-four from the 11-yard line, faked to running back Jalen Henderson, who was lined up wide.

Barker looked over the middle of the field, but with no one open, scrambled to his right and then lofted a pass to Henderson, who had snuck behind a defender and into the end zone.

Drake Tabor’s extra point was good to make it 12-7, and with the Spain Park defense pressuring Hoover into a third-and-17 on the ensuing possession, the hosts had thoughts of taking the lead before the half.

But that’s when Ashford unleashed an arching pass down the right sideline that a sprinting Pickens caught in stride on his way to a 57-yard touchdown, beating his chest as he crossed the goal line.

On its first possession of the second half, Hoover needed just four plays to drive 61 yards for a score, capped by a 27-yard pass from Ashford to Pickens.

The Buccaneers then forced a Spain Park three-and-out and wrapped up the scoring on a 2-yard pass from Ashford to Pickens with 8:10 on the clock in the third quarter.

The setback left the Jaguars with a six-game losing streak for just the second time in school history and first since 2008. That year, Spain Park rebounded to win its final three games, but even a finish like that this year would be small consolation for a program that will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“We’re just not a very good football team right now. In this league, when you make mistakes, you’re going to get beat,” Coach Shawn Raney said and pointed to Spain Park’s seven penalties in the game, many of which came at critical junctures. “We have low confidence right now. We need some good stuff to happen. We need that kind of play that gives people hope. We just haven’t had that all year.”

Hoover outgained Spain Park 379 yards to 258 yards, with many of the visitors yards coming on passes from Ashford to Pickens, who had eight receptions for 163 yards.

Ashford completed 10 of 16 passes for 177 yards.

Larry McCammon rushed 14 times for 64 yards.

For Spain Park, Mason Pronk completed 11 passes in 23 attempts for 72 yards, and Barker was 5-for-6 for 41 yards.

Mike Callens caught four passes for 59 yards, and Jacob Jenkins had three receptions for 47 yards.

Pronk was the team’s leading rusher with 65 yards on 10 carries.

Josh Wallace paced the Spain Park defense with six tackles and one sack, whil Dre Robinson Jr. had 5.5 tackles.