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Hoover will face Central-Phenix City to open 2019

Brant Berry | PrepsNet

Hoover, AL – The powerhouse Hoover Bucs will face defending 7A state champion Central-Phenix City in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl to open the 2019 football season.

The AHSAA Kickoff Classic replaces the long-running Champions Challenge Football Classic. The event will kick-off Thursday, August 22nd with Montgomery’s Jeff Davis (3-7) facing cross-town rival Carver (8-3). Hoover and Central will square off Friday, August 23rd. Both contests will begin at 7:00 PM.

Hoover’s Josh Niblett following the Bucs playoff win over Mountain Brook at the Hoover Met. Brant Berry | PrepsNet

Central (14-0) and Hoover (9-4) will be meeting for the second time in the season-opening game. The Bucs won 23-7 in the 2016 Classic on the way to a 12-2 season and its 11th state title. The powers only other meeting came in the first round of the 1978 state playoffs with the Berry Bucs coming out on top 21-14.

”We are excited about new name of this important event and equally excited about the two games we have set,” said Alabama High School Athletic Directs & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) Director Jamie Lee. “The Champions Challenge has been the “official” start of the AHSAA football season for more the last 13 years. The new name for the event, the AHSAA Kickoff Classic, aptly describes the importance of these games.”

Lee said while the name has been changed, the event will continue to be an ideal way to start the Alabama high school football season.

 “The Kickoff Classic will showcase one of the state’s top rivalries, Jeff Davis versus Carver-Montgomery, on Thursday,” he said. “And on Friday night, two of our premiere 7A programs will battle when Hoover and Central Phenix City play.  The field will be full of future college talent both nights and will be a great way to kick off our season. We are thankful to all of these programs for committing to this year’s AHSAA Kickoff Classic, and we look forward to watching all of our teams in the AHSAA compete during the season.”

Jamey DuBose’s Red Devls are coming off a 14-0 state championship campaign in 2018, including a 52-7 win over 2018 Champions Challenge winner Thompson in the Class 7A Super 7 state championship title at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Thompson beat Hoover in the 7A semifinals in 2018.

Central head coach Jamey DuBose after the Devils victory over Thompson at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Brant Berry | PrepsNet

Central is making its second appearance in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic. Hoover is 3-0 in three previous Classic appearances. DuBose (125-38) and Hoover Coach Josh Niblett (203-52) have squared off in the state finals three times when DuBose was head coach at Prattville. Prattville came out on top in 2008 and 2011, Niblett’s Bucs in came away with the victory in 2009. The two faced each other again in the 2013 Class 6A quarterfinals with Hoover edging DuBose’s Florence Falcons squad 22-21.

 Montgomery rivals Jeff Davis and Carver-Montgomery will play on Thursday night, August 22, in the first game of the 14th annual football season opening event.