The Hoover football team has been nationally ranked a number of times and has won six state championships since 2000 including four in a row – 2002-2005 – under the direction of near legendary and controversial head coach Rush Probst. The 2005 and 2006 teams were featured on the MTV show ‘Two-A-Days.’ Probst was dismissed following the 2007 season for alleged grade changing and preferential treatment of some football players.
His replacement was Josh Niblett who started where Propst finished. In the four years Hoover has been under Niblett’s direction, the Buccaneers have been to the state championship game each season. The Bucs beat Prattville for the title in 2009 but have lost three heartbreaking games in the other three years. Hoover lost to Prattville in 2008, 16-13, and also in 2011, 35-34. In 2010 they lost to Daphne in another thriller, 7-6. This year’s team is currently 9-0 and ranked 12th in the USA Today Prep Poll.
Going into the 2012 season, Niblett’s record at Hoover stood at 54-6. Early in the season the Bucs manhandled South Panola High School (MS) and recently beat rival Vestavia Hills, 35-15. Niblett played quarterback at Alabama and then became the strength and conditioning coach at Jacksonville State. From there he went to Oneonta High School and won two Class 3A State Championships.
Coaching is in his genes. His father, John, had an overall 256-135 record at several stops. And Niblett, a devout Christian, has led by example. He does not use profanity himself and doesn’t tolerate it from other coaches or players. “What comes from your mouth comes from your heart,” said Niblett. “There are times you’ve got to get on the kids and get them motivated and wake them up a little bit with some intensity in your voice. But I would never cuss a player. If I have to do that, I’d get out of the profession.”