ST. JAMES –– There’s a video circulating on social media this week of the Houston football team. The players are singing as the band plays the school fight song to celebrate the Tigers’ dramatic comeback victory against St. James.
That was 2015.
This year is proving to be much different.
Houston was blanked for the second straight week to open 2016 on Friday night as the Tigers were beaten 42-0 at St. James.
HHS (2-0) only returned two starters from last year’s team that rallied past St. James as part of a 2-0 start. This year’s team is still looking for its first win after two games.
“We keep talking about how young we are, but that just becomes an excuse,” Houston coach Eric Sloan said. “We’ll play the guys that are there. We’ve got to grow up, and we’ve got to grow up fast.”
Especially with what looms ahead.
The schedule appears to become increasingly more difficult for the Tigers beginning with a Week 3 trip to Salem, which owns a 35-game winning streak over Houston.
“We’ve gotta start doing a lot of things better –– really soon,” Sloan said.
St. James (2-0) outgained HHS 434-115 in total yards and had twice as many first downs. The biggest culprits were Dawson Lynch, who rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Ryan Harlan, who threw for 205 yards, rushed for 75 and had four total touchdowns.
The Tigers were held to 84 rushing yards on 32 attempts. More than half that total was gained by senior Chance Hunter, who had 12 carries for 47 yards. Sophomore Paydon Dixon was 5-of-11 passing for 31 yards. Connor Clifton had two catches for 17 yards.
Houston committed 13 penalties –– more than triple St. James’ total –– for 97 yards. The biggest was a holding call on Evan Richardson’s kickoff return that would have tied the game 7-7. Instead, HHS started its opening drive on its own 40-yard line and eventually punted.
“We’re not good enough to beat ourselves,” Sloan said.
“You’ve got to be fundamentally sound, and we’re not. I’ll take responsibility for that. It’s something that has got to be fixed.”
A tough night got tougher for the Tigers as Sloan learned on the bus ride home that senior Brad Wilber, a starter on the offensive and defensive lines, will miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle. Another senior, Lucas Kelley, attempted to play with a shoulder injury and was sidelined after one tackle attempt. He and Wilber were both taken to the hospital.
St. James won the coin toss and covered 82 yards in five plays. All belonged to Lynch, who capped the drive with a 46-yard touchdown run.
Richardson appeared to answer when he took the ensuing kickoff down the middle of the field for a score. But it was nullified by a penalty.
St. James led 28-0 at the half and increased its lead to 42 points midway through the third quarter.
“We’re just not playing well right now and mentally, when something goes wrong, we can’t recover,” Sloan said. “We can’t really worry so much about who we play. We have to worry about us and fix us.”
Friday: Houston (0-2) at Salem (2-0) Watch online: www.houstonherald.com/live