Heading in new direction

Thanks to an alteration in the offense, Luke Tabayoyong's workload will increase.

That's exactly what Tabayoyong wanted and it instantly shifted him in motion to prepare for the grind of the 10-week regular season with the potential of running the ball around 20 times per game. Hand the ball off to Tabayoyong and he'll be ready to break a tackle and pile up yardage for a Hoover High football team thirsty for a winning season.

Some changes have occurred since the tailback and Tornadoes completed last season. Hoover used a pass-first, spread offense last season under Coach Chris Long, who resigned in May and was replaced by Andrew Policky. Policky, who was Hoover's defensive coordinator the past three seasons under Long, has opted to go a different direction with the Tornadoes, planning to keep the ball on the ground.

Tabayoyong isn't about to take the running chores lightly.

"I know what I have to do, and I'm kind of scared and excited all at the same time," said Tabayoyong, a senior. "My favorite thing to do is pound the ball.

"I just want to be in the right state of mind and be committed to helping my team out."

Hoover finished 1-9 and 0-7 in the Pacific League for eighth place last season and will kick off its season with a nonleague game against cross-town rival Glendale at 7 p.m. Thursday at Glendale High's Moyse Field.

Tabayoyong found himself quite involved with the offense in 2010.

He rushed for 502 yards in 88 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.

Those numbers were posted after running on the school's boys' track and field team the previous spring. Tabayoyong competed in the 100- and 400-meter events, as well as taking part in the long and high jumps to help him build stamina for football.

"Skill is speed and I'm always trying to practice it," said Tabayoyong, who made 42 tackles at cornerback last season. "Running track better prepared me for football last season and I was able to bring it over and put up some numbers.

"I was somewhat satisfied with what I got done. I didn't get as much yards as I wanted because we were more of a passing team."

Policky said Tabayoyong, who garnered All-Pacific League honorable mention last season, will be the ideal candidate to handle the rushing responsibilities.

"He's perfect for us because he's real physical and he doesn't shy away from contact," Policky said. "I think he's going to be a good player for us and he's got the ability to do some good things.

"We'll be more of a run-heavy offense and we'll play with a fullback and tight end. He will make a lot of big plays for us. He's not too flashy, but he just comes in and does the work and gets the results needed."

Hoover starting quarterback Alex Rangel, a senior, said he knows what his first priority will be when receiving a snap from center.

"Hand it off to him and he'll bust outside," Rangel said. "I think he's going to get lots of yards for us and he knows what he's capable of doing.

"Last year, he caught a lot of screen passes and moved well upfield. So, we know what he can do rushing the balls because he's got the speed and can make the quick cuts."

There are some goals Tabayoyong, who is 5 feet 8, would like to achieve this season.

"The seniors are going to need to step up, including me," Tabayoyong said. "We are going to have to practice hard and I want to push my team.

"I want to get to 1,000 yards rushing."

With the ball expected to be given frequently to Tabayoyong and a growing reservoir of confidence with his ability to run, the Tornadoes are looking for him to prosper.

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