MOUNTAIN GROVE –– Weeks 8 and 9 of Houston’s football schedule have been looming all season as two of the state’s top Class 2 teams awaited.
“We told the kids, ‘If you want to lay down and quit, just turn your stuff in and we’ll go on without you,'” HHS coach Eric Sloan said. “Attitudes and efforts were great. That’s what we have to continue doing moving forward.”
The difficult task of facing Mountain Grove and Mountain View-Liberty in back-to-back weeks has arrived for the Tigers. They hit the road Friday night for the first matchup and lost 49-0 to the fourth-ranked Panthers.
Now comes this Friday night’s challenge of hosting unbeaten and second-ranked Liberty on Senior Night. If the district standings don’t change, Houston will then travel to Liberty the following week.
Still, Sloan said his Tigers –– now 1-7 overall and 1-5 in the South Central Association –– continue to battle.
“If you eliminate some big plays –– as bad as it sounds –– I thought we played OK,” Sloan said of the Mountain Grove matchup.
Houston had little offensive success against the Panthers (7-1, 5-1 SCA). The Tigers were held to a season-low 72 total yards.
Chance Hunter led the team with 15 carries for 36 yards. Paydon Dixon, who completed 2 of 10 passes for 10 yards, had 21 rushing yards.
“They got in a 3-3 stack and start to dance guys around. You don’t know who is blitzing and who isn’t, and we blew some assignments,” Sloan said.
Mountain Grove’s top running backs –– Trystan Short and Chance Barbe –– combined for 285 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 13 attempts. Carter Otwell had a pair of passing scores.
Mountain Grove scored on all six of its first-half drives. Short had touchdown runs of 64 and 79 yards while Barbe scored from 28 and 26 yards away.
Otwell had 60-yard and 5-yard touchdown passes to Dustin Jarboe.
“Crazy speed. That saying ‘speed kills’ is pretty accurate,” Sloan said. “We knew if we let this thing turn into a track meet that we would be in trouble. They exposed us a little bit and turned it into a track meet early.”
The Panthers, who led 43-0 at the half, scored their final touchdown on Barbe’s 34-yard run in the opening moments of the third quarter.
“Outside of five or six plays, I thought we played OK,” Sloan said. “You blow your responsibilities on those 5-6 plays, Short and Barbe have pretty nice looking stats.”
SENIORS WILL BE HONORED PRIOR TO FRIDAY’S GAME
Senior members of the football team, cheerleading squad and band will be honored alongside their parents prior to Friday’s home finale against Mountain View-Liberty.
Senior football players are:
• Connor Clifton (WR/LB)
• Lucas Kelley (WR/DB)
• Chance Hunter (RB/LB)
• Taylor Lee (OL/DL)
• Logan Bell (OL/DL)
• Brad Wilber (OL/DL)
• Cameron Root (TE/DL)