Calling the shots

The close relationship between brothers Alex and Jonathan Rangel hasn't waned. In fact, there's always time for the Rangels to discuss various topics, including football.

The most discussed subject of late between Alex, the starting quarterback for the Hoover High football team, and older sibling Jonathan, a former Hoover signal caller, has centered on Thursday's "Battle for the Victory Bell" game between cross-town rivals Hoover and Glendale at Moyse Field.

Alex will look to do something Jonathan did in 2006 — lead the Tornadoes past the Nitros as seniors.

The older Rangel rushed for a pair of touchdowns to help spur Hoover to a 22-15 victory against Glendale in 2006.

"He's the reason why I play the sport today because he introduced me to it," said Alex, whose team enters today's Pacific League game against Glendale at 0-9, 0-6 in league. "He's worked with me real hard ever since I first started throwing the ball.

"He told me it was the best feeling beating Glendale as a senior, and, if you win the game, that you are going to be remembered."

Rangel will strap on the helmet one last time for the Tornadoes and look to ring the bell at midfield with jubilant teammates surrounding him.

The Nitros (1-8, 0-6) are 48-33-2 all-time against Hoover and it's the first time since 1937 that the teams will have played twice in a single season. Glendale, which posted a 54-19 victory against Hoover last season to regain possession of the bell, opened this season Sept. 8 with a 20-6 nonleague win against Hoover in which Rangel completed 12 of 20 passes for 147 yards.

"There's always going to be a lot of motivation and pressure when you play against Glendale," Rangel said. "It's my last game.

"You want to be able to handle the pressure and lead your team to victory and bring the bell home."

Though the defeats have piled up for the Tornadoes — they have lost 16 games in a row — Rangel has shown marked improved each week under the direction of first-year Coach Andrew Policky. Policky took over the team in the spring from Chris Long after serving the previous three seasons as Hoover's defensive coordinator.

Under Long, the Tornadoes operated in a spread offense. With Policky calling the shots, the Tornadoes have switched to a West Coast offense.

He's reaped the benefits from adjusting to the new formation, including completing 14 of 24 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown in a 42-14 league loss against Burroughs on Nov. 3.

"I've been able to improve with my vision for the entire field," Rangel said. "It's about being able to read defenses.

"I'm more of a roll-out passer instead of a pocket passer, so you especially have to be as accurate as possible. The only time you really see the West Coast offense is in the pros and college."

Policky said Rangel has progressed each week.

"He's gotten a lot better after having some tough games in the beginning of league," Policky said. "His reads were off and his eyes were not focusing on the ball during some of the snaps.

"We'd taken a lot of sacks. Now, he's somebody who can lead an offense."

Hoover senior wide receiver Fernando Olivares said Rangel's respectable effort against Burroughs might be something Rangel can add to against Glendale.

"He's got a big arm and he completed a lot of passes [against Burroughs]," Olivares said. "We are behind him and he goes out there and does what he has to do.

"Sometimes we have to tell him to relax, but we know he will come through for us."

Hoover will look for Rangel to come through for it one last time. Similar to how his brother fared five years earlier.

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