Houston's Season Ends, Focuses on Recruitment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The inability to stop Charlotte (N.C.) Independence, matched with an inconsistent offense, ultimately led to Matthews (N.C.) Butler's demise as the Bulldogs fell in the NCHSAA 4AA playoff semifinals, 49-23.

"I mean, I'm not going to put it on our defense, but, yes, it would help us if they would have come up with a stop," said Ryan Houston. "[Independence] had the ball the whole fourth quarter – I mean the whole fourth quarter. That makes it hard [on the offense].

"On offense, we have to put points on the board every time. We have to score every time we get the ball so the crowd gets hyped, and then our defense will get hyped."

Independence's offense scored touchdowns on seven of eight possessions, accumulated 458 total yards, and collected 31 first downs.

Houston, a 6-foot-2 255-pound tailback, rushed just 15 times for 57 yards and scored on a 6-yard touchdown run.

"I did all right," said Houston. "I'd liked to have done better, but it's all in the past. I have to keep my head up and keep rolling along."

Although he didn't record any tackles, Houston saw limited reps at defensive end – one drive in the first quarter and then one play during a goal line stance in the fourth quarter.

"I was playing there because they needed some help," said Houston. "I know I'm a good ‘picker-upper.' I talk to the defense and get them [going]. But, I was in there to try to stop the run."

The game was moved from Patriot Stadium, which holds 4,500 spectators, to Memorial Stadium, which has a capacity of 24,000, to accommodate the expected large crowd. Estimates on Saturday were that about 20,000 fans were in attendance for the contest.

Included among the 20,000 onlookers were North Carolina assistant coaches Dave Brock and Andre Powell, and Clemson assistant coach Billy Napier.

"I didn't know Clemson was coming, but I saw Coach Napier when I got here, [and] I knew Brock was coming," said Houston. "I get to play in front of [many more] people next year; I can't worry about who is in the stands [now]. I've just got to play my heart out every play."

Houston, who verbally committed to UNC in June but softened his pledge after John Bunting's dismissal, has stated that he will shift his focus to recruiting once his senior season is complete.

"I don't know [what the plan is right now]," said Houston. "I'll talk to my Coach about it on Monday and see what we're going to do. Louisville is coming down this week, Florida is coming down this week, and UNC is coming down this week.

"I can say there's a strong possibility I'm going to take some visits, but then again I don't know. It depends on what Butch Davis is talking about, basically. He's coming next week, so I'll have to see what he's talking about."

Last Monday night, Houston received his first chance to speak to UNC's new head football coach when Davis called the Scout.com four-star prospect.

"He was talking about how he watched my film and he said I was a good running back," said Houston. "He was talking about all the talent we got at North Carolina. He said he can't wait till I get down there.

"I really hope that he keeps Coach Brock around, because Coach Brock is like the dad I never had. He gives me a lot of advice."

Houston ended his senior season with 2,182 yards and 32 touchdowns on 375 rushes.

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