Houston coach David Williams says rebuilding the football program is a process.
That process continues.
The Tigers dropped their 20th consecutive game Friday night with a 16-13 loss to Cuba in the 2011 season finale.
Williams, who completed his second season at HHS, has been at the helm for all of those losses. He said he knew there would be challenges rebuilding a program that was a combined 8-33 in the four seasons before he arrived.
“It’s not going to be easy. I never thought it would be,” Williams said. “It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Common themes that have plagued the Tigers (0-10) this season were evident against Cuba.
A big play for the opponent.
Struggles running the ball.
“A little bit of everything didn’t go right,” Williams said.
HHS twice had leads — at 7-0 minutes into the game and 13-8 early in the fourth quarter — in a statistically close game. The Tigers had one more first down and out-gained Cuba 243-241.
Trailing by three points in the fourth quarter, Houston gained possession with 4 minutes, 8 seconds left when senior Rodney Preheim stuffed Cuba’s Eli Rikard on third-and-2.
Quarterback Weston Walker completed short passes to Jacob Kelley and Dakota Stigall to move the ball past midfield. Five plays later, he ran for four yards on fourth-and-1 on the Cuba 28-yard line to keep the drive alive.
But with 34 seconds remaining, Walker’s pass intended for Stigall as he streaked down the middle of the field was intercepted.
Walker was 8-of-20 passing for 107 yards with a touchdown and interception. Drake Bell rushed for 72 yards and had a 48-yard touchdown reception.
Williams said Houston’s inconsistencies in the running — 136 yards on 39 carries — and passing games were hard to comprehend.
“We’re not going to be the most talented team. But when you know what to do and don’t do it, I don’t know where else we can go,” he said.
“It’s puzzling why they can’t do it every time the ball is snapped instead of every other time, every fifth time or whenever they chose. It doesn’t take talent to do the right thing.”
The game started well for HHS. Two plays after the Tigers recovered a fumble on the Cuba 26, Walker scooted in from 18 yards out for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. Preheim drilled the PAT to make it 7-0.
Cuba took an 8-7 led with 1:10 left in the half when Cole Mitchell took a pitch down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown.
The Tigers immediately answered.
Walker hit Randy Barker on two straight 7-yard passes to move to the 48-yard line. After an incompletion, Bell took a short middle screen from Walker and after bowling over a defender, crossed the goal line with 14 seconds left in the half.
Houston held the advantage until Cuba’s Kaleb Cason scored from 4 yards out with 11:08 left in the game.
Williams said he saw positive strides in 2011. He said an offseason in the weight room and getting more kids involved in the program will be key to taking another step forward.
“At times, you saw glimpses of some good things. It just wasn’t consistent enough,” Williams said. “I think, and most of the coaches agree, that we’ve made progress. We’re not all the way there yet.”
CUBA 16, HOUSTON 13
HOU — WWalker 18 run (Preheim kick), 8:03.
CUB — Weaver 43 run (Rikard run), 1:10.
HOU — Bell 48 pass from WWalker (kick failed), 0:14.
CUB — Cason 4 run (Lea run), 11:08.
RUSHING — Cuba, Rikard 22-103, Mitchell 5-70, Lea 12-40, Lemons 5-24, Cason 7-4, Thompson 1-0. Houston, Bel 23-72, WWaker 15-59, Foster 1-5.
PASSING — Cuba, Cason 0-1-0 0. WWalker 8-20-1 107.
RECEIVING — Cuba, none. Houston, Bell 1-48, Barker 3-22, TySmith 1-16, Kelley 2-13, Stigall 1-8.