By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Houston has a second chance – a second chance with more on the line.
The Hilltoppers lost their first game of the season, a three-touchdown defeat at Louisville on Sept. 28. The two meet again Friday in the MHSAA Class 4A quarterfinals.
Prior to this season, the Hilltoppers had never won a playoff game. Now they’ve won two and have the school’s first 11-win season.
First-year Houston coach William Cook said his team moved the ball well against Louisville but hurt themselves inside the 20s the first time around.
“At that time we were 6-0 and still learning to deal with being 6-0. Us and the kids know we made lot of mistakes. We’ve got to eliminate those,” Cook said.
Houston (11-2) lost six turnovers in the first meeting and Louisville capitalized with 28 points. One of the six came in Louisville’s end zone.
Louisville proudly carries its “We have 7. We want 8.” state championship motto.
The Wildcats (9-4) rely on junior quarterback Wyatt Roberts. Roberts has thrown for 2,876 yards and 29 touchdowns. Behind him is an 1,100-yard rusher in Cass Love, who has 13 touchdowns.
“They’re tradition-rich. They’ve been in this situation several times. Playing at home, they’re outstanding,” Cook said. “They have athletes all over the field. The quarterback, running back and wide receivers run the zone read very well and the quarterback throws it very well. He has a great arm. On defense, they’re fast, aggressive and all 11 run to the football.”
Houston defensive end Chris Jones draws the most attention for Houston. The Mississippi State commitment is averaging more than 11 tackles per game. Fellow seniors, nose guard Deontray Smith and linebacker Kody Kimbrough, each average more than nine tackles per game.
Houston QB Sharone Wright rushed for 109 yards in the first game. He has rushed for a team-high 1,209 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sophomore fullback Brandon Townsend has rushed for 863 yards and 15 touchdowns.