At long last, the Hoover High School varsity football team can finally ring the Victory Bell.
In the annual rivalry game against crosstown opponent Glendale, the Tornados looked to break their three-game losing streak against the Nitros at Moyse Field on Thursday.
The Tornados put their foot on the gas early and never looked back, as Hoover secured a commanding 44-14 victory over Glendale during the annual “Battle for the Victory Bell” game on Oct. 26.
The Tornados (4-6 overall) broke a three-game losing streak and celebrated their first triumph over the Nitros since 2017.
The Hoover High football team did not field a varsity team in 2019 due to low participation numbers. Since then, Hoover coach Azad Herabidian has seen the program grow from a freshman-sophomore team into what it is today.
“I am just so happy for our seniors — for all of our kids — but especially our seniors,” Herabidian said. “Last year was a real heartbreak and I’m just so happy we got a win. They have been working for this.”
Because of the rebuild, the teams didn’t compete against each other between 2018 and 2020.
The 2018 game was cancelled following a campus brawl at Hoover, which prompted district officials to make the cautionary decision.
The rivalry dates back to 1930.
Despite an impressive 5-0 start, Glendale (5-5) finished the season with a .500 record, as the Tornados thwarted the Nitros’ hopes of achieving their first winning season since 2008.
Hoover, which entered the rivalry game following a 21-13 to Viewpoint High of Calabasas on Oct. 20, dominated the first half, taking a quick 7-0 lead in the opening quarter and adding another touchdown in the second.
In the waning moments of the second quarter, the Nitros made a move to tie the rivalry game. A 25-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct against Hoover allowed Glendale to kick off their drive from their opponent’s 22-yard line with just 2:31 remaining in the half.
After seven plays, Glendale found itself in a second-and-goal situation on Hoover’s 1-yard line, but a false start penalty stalled their progress. Senior quarterback Jonathan Wells attempted a pass to senior teammate Sergio Avalos near the end zone, only for Hoover senior Daniel Baneham to intercept the ball and dash 94 yards for a touchdown, extending the Tornados lead to 14-0.
“I felt the guy on my back and I knew I had to break,” Baneham said about his interception. “I saw him pushing forward, I read the quarterback’s eyes, I grabbed it and I just tucked it.”
The Tornados seized the momentum early in the game when Hoover senior Isaac Perez snagged a fumble on Glendale’s 37-yard line in the first quarter. Capitalizing on Glendale’s mistake, the Tornados swiftly executed a three-play drive, culminating in a touchdown in under two minutes. On third-and-3 at Glendale’s 30-yard line, Hoover’s senior quarterback Ethan Davis connected with junior teammate Joel Jauregui for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Both teams managed to score multiple touchdowns in the second half, but it was Hoover that solidified its lead.
The Tornados began the second half with a four-minute drive, resulting in a 31-yard field goal courtesy of Baneham. During Glendale’s next drive, Hoover senior Aram Darbinyan contributed to the defensive highlights by scoring a 24-yard interception. Baneham’s third successful PAT extended Hoover’s lead to 24-0 with six minutes left in the third quarter.
“Our kids did a great job. They were in a position to make plays,” Herabidian said. “As coaches, we just told them what we thought [Glendale] was going to do and they did the rest.”
The Nitros’ defense managed to force a three-and-out from Hoover, halting the Tornados’ progress past midfield after two unsuccessful plays and a sack by seniors Alejandro Maravilla and Freddie Rios Barrientos. This forced Hoover to punt from its 44-yard line on fourth-and-19 with only 41 seconds left in the third quarter. However, Hoover’s punt execution faltered, leading to a loose ball recovery on its 21-yard line, placing Glendale in a favorable position just before the end of the third quarter.
The Nitros, which were coming off of a bye week, executed their running game effectively, gaining 21 yards on four rush attempts. The drive culminated in a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Glendale senior Alfred Intriago, who subsequently secured a two-point conversion, reducing the deficit to 24-8.
“I think we started doing the little things right,” Glendale head coach Manuel Lemus said about the offense in the second half. “It just felt like the first half, each kid on both sides of the ball was trying to make the big play instead of doing the little things and letting the game come to them.”
Hoover swiftly retaliated with a five-play drive that lasted just over a minute. The drive initially posed challenges for the Tornados after a pair of penalties and a sack by Maravilla pushed them to their own 40-yard line. However, undeterred by the mounting pressure, Davis delivered a flawless pass to junior Davion Holloway, who ran 60 yards for a touchdown and extended Hoover’s lead to 31-8.
“Ethan was getting pressured [in the first half], and our O-line and running backs weren’t picking up the blitzes as well as they should have,” Herabidian said. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We added some more protection for him and he was able to get the ball where he needed to get it to.”
Sophomore Brady Aldrete, Glendale’s backup quarterback, was called upon to assume control in the pocket during the late stages of the third quarter. Aldrete performed well in his limited action, completing all seven of his pass attempts during a fourth-quarter drive that culminated in a Glendale touchdown. Aldrete targeted sophomore Rudy Cuellar, who secured crucial first downs and aided the Nitros in advancing past midfield. A 31-yard pass to Avalos put the Nitros into the red zone, and after a pair of short passes to the quarterback’s brother, senior Austin Aldrete, Glendale reduced the deficit to 31-14.
“Brady has been working as our goal-line quarterback and we figured might as well put him in now. He’s a sophomore and he’s got a lot to learn but I think he did good,” Lemus said.
The Tornados sealed the victory with two touchdowns scored in the final five minutes of the game. Junior Ryan O delivered a 5-yard rushing touchdown with 4:18 left, and senior Joseph Dizon’s 6-yard rushing touchdown capped the scoring with 2:40 remaining.
First published in the October 28 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.