Tigers will see one of state's best again to begin districts

If the Mountain View-Liberty football program is the blueprint Houston hopes to follow, the Tigers are getting another up-close look at the Eagles.

The Tigers will face Liberty in back-to-back weeks following the final release of the district standings. Eighth-seeded HHS concluded its regular-season Friday with a 55-15 home loss at Tiger Stadium to the top-seeded Eagles, who are ranked second in Class 2.

Sloan said he has sought insight many times from Liberty coach Darin Acklin, who turned the struggling program into a conference and state powerhouse. The Eagles (9-0, 7-0 South Central Association) clinched a perfect regular season and another conference crown by beating the Tigers for the 13th consecutive time.

The solution, Sloan said he was told by Acklin, is to build a culture of students playing and committed to multiple athletic teams.

“One thing he talks about is they don’t have football players, they have athletes,” Sloan said. “Their football kids play basketball, run track or play baseball. They’ve built a program, not just a football team. That’s where we have to get.

“If we’re going to be successful, everyone has to play. You won’t find a coach here right now that will discourage a kid from playing a sport. We want everyone involved, and that’s what has to happen for sports here in Houston to be successful.”

Liberty out-gained Houston 443-181. Quarterback Josh Pruett was 9-of-12 passing for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Kole Orchard and Marcos Rodriguez both had a pair of rushing scores.

HHS senior Chance Hunter led the Tigers with 15 carries for 104 yards and his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. He surpassed the 100-yard mark for the fourth time.

The Tigers’ other points came via a 45yard interception return by Paydon Dixon in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Liberty scored 28 points in the first quarter and 27 more in the second for a commanding 55-7 halftime advantage.

The Tigers (1-8, 1-6 SCA) scored the lone points of the second half.

“I challenged them and asked, ‘How much heart are you guys playing with?’ The second half, I was pretty happy with the effort and attitude. At that point, we started to get guys playing against guys their own age.”

Houston will play Liberty in consecutive weeks for the third time in five years. The teams also met in the first round of districts in 2012 and ’14.

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