With both the Hoover and Blair high football teams carrying considerable losing streaks into Friday night's season opener, it was experience that made the difference in the Tornadoes' 46-0 victory.
Hoover just wrapped up its first full offseason under second-year coach Andrew Policky and it showed with an offense that executed next to perfect all night and took advantage of a Vikings squad that had less than a month under new coach Johnny Lopez.
"I have kind of been in that situation before so I know it's tough for them," Policky said. "They didn't have a lot of time to prepare, but it felt good to get that first win under my belt. Our kids put a lot of work into it, it's been a long offseason and it feels good for them and the program to take a step forward and get a 'W.'"
It led to Hoover snapping its 17-game losing streak after going 0-10 last season. The Tornadoes hadn't tasted the thrill of victory since Sept. 24, 2010 when they defeated Mountain View on the road, 45-38.
Across the field, the loss extended Blair's losing skid to 10 games with its last win coming in the 2011 season opener.
"It's coming together but it's coming together slowly," said Lopez, who was hired July 20 and said it felt good to simply play a game after there was speculation the Vikings wouldn't field a team this year.
Blair had 27 players suited up to play Friday and 34 listed on its roster, which clearly made Lopez proud.
"Everybody says, 'Oh, you had your eight guys,' in the beginning of the year," said Lopez, whose roster includes 22 underclassmen, nine of which are freshmen. "That was day three, look how many I've got now. Look at my team next Friday and there will be a different dynamic, more numbers because everybody will be ready."
No one seemed to benefit more from a full offseason with Policky than Hoover senior quarterback Brendon Kerr, who completed all five of his passes for 102 yards, three touchdowns and also ran for a 17-yard score, as the Tornadoes built a 32-0 lead by halftime.
"Over passing league we felt like we were in a new groove, we were like Hoover 2.0 where it's a totally different team, we threw everything out," said Kerr, who only played the first half with the second string taking over after halftime. "This just shows we can do this if we believe. We just have to work at it as a team."
Hoover first got on the board about three minutes into the game after holding Blair, which only managed 20 yards of offense, to a three-and-out when Kerr hit tight end Alvin Kim over the middle for a 15-yard touchdown pass and 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.
It was the beginning of Kerr's big night. Next up was his 17-yard sneak for a score, which gave Hoover a 13-0 lead with about four minutes left in the first quarter, as the Tornadoes line dominated as it did all night — on offense and defense — clearing a straight path through Blair's defense to the end zone for Kerr.
The Vikings got their first first down of the season with about two minutes to go in the game on a 15-yard Hoover penalty, but their momentum was quickly halted with a fumble that was pounced on by the Tornadoes at Blair's 44-yard line on the next play.
Justin Nam, who finished with 96 rushing yards, set up another Hoover score — a 10-yard run by Ryan Blanks (59 yards) on a reverse about a minute into the second quarter — with a 21-yard run. Kerr hit Zach Hanson with a 35-yard touchdown pass with about eight minutes left in the half to give the Tornadoes a commanding 26-0 lead.
Blair picked up its first unassisted first down of the game when quarterback Rayjon Moore hit Terence Douglas with an 11-yard pass to begin its fifth drive of the game. The wheels came off the drive again two plays later when Malone picked off a pass and returned it 13 yards to Hoover's 38.
Kerr hit Jesse Pina with a 16-yard strike for his third touchdown of the half, giving the Tornadoes a 32-0 advantage with about three minutes to go in the half.
Hoover capped the scoring on a 20-yard Nam touchdown run in the middle of the third quarter, which prompted Lopez to accept a running clock with the score at 39-0, and a 23-yard touchdown run from Ravin Tanhuenco late in the game.
"It feels like a new beginning," Kerr said of the win. "Our next game with South Pas will be pretty difficult and we're facing up to the challenge. We are really looking forward to this season, I think we can change our program around. Policky has done a great job with the coaching staff."
While Policky knows the Tigers will be a good test for his squad, he feels Friday will serve his team well the rest of the year.
"For us, I think a win gives us confidence and gets us rolling into the next one," he said.