Houston coach Chris Edwards said he never envisioned enduring a winless season. But now that the moment is here, he’s committed to doing something about it.
“I gave the kids my word that I wouldn’t be going anywhere,” Edwards said after the Tigers lost their season finale 42-12 Thursday night to Cabool.
While the Bulldogs stuck it to their Texas County rivals in a mere tune-up for the postseason, Houston was left picking up the pieces of consecutive 0-10 seasons. The Tigers have dropped 21 straight games since winning in the 2005 playoffs.
It was hardly the scenario Edwards, who has turned around losing programs before, planned in his first year with the Tigers.
“It’s one of those situations you think you’re never going to go through, then you go through it,” he said.
One thing Edwards can immediately provide is stability. He said he’ll be back for a second season, ending Houston’s streak of different coaches in three consecutive years.
“We have an understanding now of what kind of work we need to do to get better,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of kids coming back. We’ll get the ship righted, we just have to be patient.”
It wasn’t going to happen against the beefy Bulldogs. Ryan Smith had three rushing touchdowns for Cabool, which racked up 312 yards on the ground by halftime and cruised to a third straight blowout victory entering Wednesday’s sectional showdown with unbeaten Mountain Grove.
Cabool (7-3, 4-2 SCA) punished the Tigers with its bruising running game en route to a 36-6 halftime advantage, and the running mercy clock ticked away the final quarter of Houston’s season.
Smith had touchdown runs of 17, 5 and 41 yards. He gained all but two of his 131 yards in the first half. Joe McCarty, who had a 14-yard score in the first quarter, gained 74 yards on 10 first-half carries. Donovan Baker (44), Lucas Dotson (43) and Patrick Jesse (41) helped Cabool rack up 400 yards on the ground.
“Cabool is real big and physical, and they controlled the line of scrimmage,” Edwards said. “It was pretty obvious we really struggled to stop their run.”
Houston junior Ty Scheets caught seven passes for 71 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Sophomore tailback Justin Schmidt accounted for the Tigers’ other points on a 55-yard scamper with 2:22 left in the game.
Junior quarterback David Weybright, who completed 9 of his 21 pass attempts for 86 yards, was knocked out of the game with a leg injury early in the second quarter. He hurt the same leg in last year’s season finale against the Bulldogs, although Edwards said this injury wasn’t significant.
Even though Houston finished winless, Edwards said he enjoyed the journey.
“I’ll give the kids credit. I was able to come to work every day and still enjoy working with this group of kids because of the way they approached the game,” Edwards said. “Even the last week of the season when we’re sitting at 0-9 and facing the district champions – a team that’s big and strong and powerful – our kids came to work that week.”