Houston High School coach Eric Sloan talks strategy with assistant Vince McCrosky during the 2015 season opener at Hollister. Sloan, McCrosky, Ken Cooperman and Nate Christeson (right) all have Cabool ties.

There are plenty of storylines for tonight’s football matchup between Houston and Cabool.

Texas County rivals.

Bounce back opportunity for the Tigers.

Shot at first victory for Bulldogs.

Homecomings for four HHS coaches and junior Chance Hunter.

Houston coach Eric Sloan isn’t giving attention to any of them.

“We don’t talk about it a whole lot,” said Sloan, a Cabool graduate and former Bulldogs head coach. “The way we played last week with all the added pressure, we don’t need that to happen.”

There will be plenty of Bulldog backgrounds on the red and black sidelines when tonight’s game kicks off. Sloan and two of his assistants – Vince McCrosky and Ken Cooperman – previously coached at Cabool. Not to mention one of Houston’s middle school coaches, Nate Christeson, recently played for the Bulldogs.

None of that matters to Sloan, who hopes his team can bounce back from last week’s 14-7 loss to Salem that snapped the Tigers’ two-game winning streak to begin the 2015 season.

“It’s just another game, and we’re going to treat it that way,” Sloan said. “I’ll be happy to see some people over there, but let’s just play football.”

HHS (2-1, 0-1 South Central Association) is looking to rebound from its Week 3 defeat. Sloan said the team didn’t handle adversity well in its first loss of the season.

Sloan said a strong start is crucial for the Tigers, who don’t have any first-quarter points this season and have been outscored 42-14 in the first half.

“We’ve got to get off to a good start,” he said. “We’ve struggled three games now in the first half.”

Senior lineman Matt Wheeler, who sat out last week with a shoulder injury, returned to practice Thursday and will play for the Tigers. But they will still be shorthanded as lineman Brad Wilber (back) and kicker Lucas Kelley (muscle strain) will miss the game after suffering injuries in Monday’s junior varsity game.

The Texas County teams have split the last four meetings between the rivals. Houston won 40-36 in 2013 and 6-0 in 2012. The Bulldogs were victorious 20-7 last season and 21-6 in 2011.

Ironically, it is homecoming tonight for Cabool. But Sloan said it no longer feels like going home.

“Coach Mac and Coach Coop both think they’ve been gone long enough that it doesn’t matter,” Sloan said. “I consider (Cabool) the place I was raised, and I’m grateful, but I consider Houston my home and hometown. There is no longer blue running through my veins.”

Watch tonight’s HHS-Cabool football game streamed over the internet at www.houstonherald.com/live. The pregame show begins at 6:45 p.m., followed by kickoff at 7 p.m.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply