Focused on future

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Eric Sloan believes West Plains coach Steve Ary’s approach to football success.

“He says, ‘Games are lost between May and August,'” Sloan said.

That’s why, Sloan believes, his Tigers’ 2016 season wasn’t more successful.

Houston concluded the year Friday with a 55-0 loss to top-seeded Mountain View-Liberty in the first round of Class 2 District 3.

With the loss, the Tigers finished with a 1-9 mark — one year after winning four games in Sloan’s debut season at the helm.

“We only averaged 15 in the summer per day as opposed to 37 the year before,” Sloan said. “We didn’t show up and put in the work and when August rolls around, we expect to win. But when you don’t put in the work, you’ll get those results. That’s something we’ve got to address.”

Houston’s postseason path became even more difficult on the eighth play of the game as senior Chance Hunter — the team’s leading rusher, scorer and second-leading tackler — went down with a knee injury. He did not return.

Liberty (10-0), the No. 2 team in Class 2 and conference champions, scored 21 points in the first quarter and 28 in the second for a huge halftime lead.

Senior Connor Clifton led the HHS offense with 13 carries for 55 yards. Paydon Dixon was 7-for-11 passing for 46 yards.

Houston started strong. The Tigers won the coin toss and moved to the Liberty 18-yard line. But two plays after Hunter was injured, a snap eluded Dixon and was scooped up and returned 68 yards for a Liberty touchdown.

Sloan said “battle” will be the key word for his team as the Tigers enter the offseason.

“We’ve gotta battle,” he said. “We all want to win. This isn’t the YMCA league. Trophies aren’t handed out to everybody. It has to be earned.”

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