In one season under coach Eric Sloan, HHS won more games than the previous five years combined. Here’s a game-by-game look at the season:
HHS 16, HOLLISTER 7
Houston shook off a 16-game losing skid and began what their first-year coach hopes is a new era for the program as they beat Hollister 16-7 in the season opener.
The HHS defense bailed the team out of several self-inflicted jams by holding Hollister to 52 total yards, including just seven on the ground on 34 attempts. Houston had 11 tackles in the backfield.
Entering the contest, the Tigers hadn’t won a game since September 2013 and last won the season opener in 2008.
HHS 36, ST. JAMES 35
Trailing St. James by 22 points with 10 minutes, 33 seconds remaining, HHS feverishly rallied for an improbable 36-35 victory.
The Tigers pulled within a point on Chance Hunter’s three-yard score with 28.4 seconds remaining and after a timeout, lined up to go for the two-point conversion. HHS again called the number of Hunter, who danced into the end zone to give Houston its first lead of the night. Ethan Kelley secured the come-from-behind victory with an interception on St. James’ next play.
SALEM 14, HHS 7
Salem bottled up the Tigers’ running game and did just enough offensively to escape with a victory. Two second-quarter scores were enough for the Tigers from Dent County to continue their dominance in the series.
Houston got its lone points on the defensive side of the ball as senior Steven Logan returned a tipped pass 76 yards for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter.
HHS, which lost 14-7, was defeated for the 35th straight meeting with Salem.
HHS 21, CABOOL 7
Houston finally got off to a fast start and quickly put away its Texas County rivals. The Tigers converted their first two drives into touchdowns and cruised to a 21-7 road victory against Cabool.
Hunter carried the ball 25 times for 126 yards and two scores as he topped the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games.
It was Tigers’ first 3-1 start to the season since 2008. Houston also snapped a 12-game conference losing skid dating back to a victory against Cabool in September 2013.
THAYER 64, HHS 7
The Tigers’ hot start came to an abrupt end. HHS struggled mightily offensively and had little luck stopping Thayer’s big plays. The result was a 64-7 defeat.
The Bobcats had a 419-99 advantage in total yards and scored at least two touchdowns in every quarter. They led 34-7 at the half.
Houston’s offense struggled to just five first downs –– three coming on the final drive against Thayer’s second defensive unit. The Tigers punted a season-high eight times.
AVA 28, HHS 14
Playing in front of nearly packed stands for the 2015 homecoming, Houston competed with and outplayed a preseason state-ranked team in Class 3. But a few dropped passes on pivotal plays and defensively allowing too many big plays added up to a 28-14 defeat to Ava.
HHS ran 20 more plays than Ava and had a 16-6 advantage in first downs. But the Tigers left points on the board as a first-half drive stalled on the Bears’ 11-yard line and another in the fourth quarter got as close as the 3-yard line before fading.
HHS 29, WILLOW 22
Houston wasn’t going to be denied.
The Tigers were without two seniors and two-way starters. They lost a 14-point lead. They faced fourth-and-8 with the game on the line.
But they found a way. Quarterback Nathan Poynter connected with Kelley on fourth down with 2 minutes, 48 seconds remaining to keep the final drive alive. And Hunter capped another last-minute victory as he plowed into the end zone with 1:13 left.
Houston 29, Willow Springs 22.
MTN. GROVE 34, HHS 7
Sixteen seniors were recognized alongside their families prior to the Tigers’ matchup with state-ranked Mountain Grove. Although Houston lost 34-7, it didn’t take away from a memorable night dedicated to a group play its final home game at HHS.
“It’s such a special group,” Tigers coach Eric Sloan said. “I hope they’ve laid the foundation for the future.”
Sloan credited his seniors –– the largest group he has ever coached –– with leading the way into the 2015 season.
LIBERTY 63, HHS 7
Liberty took control from the get-go with a short kickoff that the Eagles recovered. They scored five plays later and raced ahead 35-0 after the opening 12 minutes.
Liberty built a 49-0 halftime advantage and cruised past HHS 63-7.
Houston’s young players got big minutes in the loss. Freshman Paydon Dixon directed two fourth-quarter drives and was 3-of-4 passing for 40 yards. Two of those completions went to Michael Clayton, who caught his first career varsity passes and finished with 31 yards.
STRAFFORD 46, HHS 20
Eric Sloan said he didn’t set a goal for victories in his first season guiding the Houston High School football program.
“We wanted the kids to compete and fight,” Sloan said.
The Tigers did. Although the 2015 campaign ended with a 46-20 loss to Strafford in the opening round of Class 2 District 3, HHS had plenty of positives as the season came to an end. The biggest, Sloan said, was his players’ commitment to him and the program.
of 16 seniors, the Tigers went 4-6 to eclipse the win totals of the previous five years combined.