Athlete of the Week: Hoover helps Generals take positive steps against R.E. Lee

Brendan Hoover

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School football coach Pete Lampman drove home a motto to the Generals’ in the days leading up to last Friday night’s game against Robert E. Lee, imploring his team to simply “do what you’re coached to do.”

Lampman said on Tuesday evening that he meant making the proper reads on offense, making the right blocks, hitting the correct holes and not venturing from the play’s design. Stonewall fell to the Leemen 70-22, running its losing streak to 21 games, but the Generals did show life on offense.

Stonewall finished with 350 yards in its most productive game of the season, and senior quarterback Brendan Hoover finally enjoyed a breakout performance in which he accounted for over 200 of those yards in the Generals’ triple-option offense.

“We didn’t try to do too much,” said Hoover, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for Sept. 18-24. “We just kept it simple, made the right reads. The running backs cut off the blocks and I thought we moved the ball really well last Friday.

“It’s nice,” he added of his individual success, “and it’s just the offensive line. They protected me, even on pass plays when I had to roll out. I was able to see and I give all the credit to the offensive line. They blocked really well.”

Hoover’s night against Lee included 20 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown – his first rushing TD of 2017 – and he added 95 yards passing and another score on a 32-yard hookup with Logan Ritchie off play-action late in the fourth quarter.

It was easily the most productive rushing performance of the season for Hoover, who now has carried 38 times for 129 yards in five games this season while passing for 339 and three touchdowns.

“It was nice to see him do the right things, make the right reads, for it to be successful for him,” Lampman said of his senior QB.

“And it wasn’t just what he did. He had a great night running – some of that was freelance, some of that was designed – but (by) making the right read he also caused (fullback Udreka Claude) to get 100 yards. He also threw a touchdown pass. He’s the guy that’s responsible for the triple-option, so without him doing it right – it doesn’t matter if everybody else does it right, if he doesn’t do it right, you’re screwed. … All the decisions are made by the quarterback, so seeing him make those and then getting a couple freelance plays and keeping some drives alive was nice to see.”

The fact that Hoover is simply able to compete on the football field alongside his teammates this season has been a boost for the senior, who broke his collarbone during the second game of 2016 and missed the remainder of season.

Hoover, a three-sport athlete for Stonewall, said it was difficult sitting on the bench unable to help the Generals on the football field.

“Each week I was always enthusiastic about maybe I’d get cleared this week,” he said of last season. “… I made appointments (with the doctor) like every three weeks to try to get cleared.

“To come out here and have this opportunity (this season),” he added, “I wanna take that and move on with it.”

Despite the limited playing time a season ago, Hoover was hardly a newcomer to the varsity level when he hit the football field this fall. He took over as the Generals’ starting quarterback midway through his sophomore season, an experience he said helped him become acclimated to the speed of the game and allowed him to develop into a better leader for his teammates this season.

It also helped him take in stride the challenge of playing for three different head football coaches during his four seasons at the varsity level and, in turn, learning three different offensive systems.

Hoover has more responsibility than ever before in Lampman’s triple-option offense.

“I have to be able to command the offense and just have confidence out there to make the right read,” Hoover said. “It’s a whole lot different because when I was a sophomore we were more power-I and all I had to do was hand it off, drop back, pass it every now and then. Now I have to take the hits, run the ball strong, protect the ball. It’s a whole lot different than running that power-I where all I have to do is basically hand it off. I enjoy running the ball, though. It’s a lot of fun. I like this offense a lot.”

Lampman agreed that Hoover has shown improvement in his ability to understand the intricacies of Stonewall’s offense.

“It’s been great having him this year. He’s led the team in the offseason. He set the expectations – and the seniors in general – but Brendan’s set the expectations of where the younger guys need to go following this year,” Lampman said.

“He’s been a good leader. He’s been a good football player. He’s been a good student. He’s put in a lot of effort.”