The Huddle: Remember to have fun

Bart Houston of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) reminded his team to have fun on the field despite an early loss this season. Tom Hauck/ESPNHS

The huddle is a sacred place in football; one where the team and game are the only things that count. We’re going inside the huddle by talking to football players on the POWERADE FAB 50 teams to find out their most valuable lessons learned -- on or off the field -- that contribute to their success.

Senior quarterback Bart Houston of No. 20 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) talks about refocusing his team following a rare loss. The greatest lesson learned from a loss, said Houston, might just be to remember to enjoy the game and not let it get too serious. A 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who has committed to call signals for the University of Wisconsin, Houston is a straight-A student with plans on majoring in chemical engineering or business.

Over the course of last season, Houston totaled 1,922 passing yards for 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 11 more scores to pace the Spartans to a 14-0 record and an Open Division state title.

But a cross-country trip to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) early this season ended the Spartans' winning ways and with a 30-6 loss.

"Total yards wasn't much more than 100. They really kicked our butts," said Houston. "I didn't do too well. It was the first varsity start that I experienced a loss. But my stats didn't matter so much to me."

What mattered more was to get his Spartans back on track, which the team leader did by immediately engaging a pair of teammates in an inclusive and positive way on the flight back to California.

"We were flying back home, and I turned to my best friends, Justin Walker, a defensive and offensive lineman, and Trevor Christiansen, an outside linebacker, and I told them, 'This year is going to change,'" said Houston. "I told them that we've been treating this game too much like a job. I said,'let's go out there and have some fun out there again.'"

The Spartans responded the following weekend with a convincing win -- their first of six straight victories.

ROLE MODEL: Fred Houston, grandfather. "He's an ex-football coach, and he has just always been there for me. He's the man that I want to be."