• December 6, 2019

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Permian notebook for Nov. 12 - Odessa American: Sports

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Permian notebook for Nov. 12

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Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 7:40 pm

The start of the second part of high school football season in Texas has finally arrived this week and just like last year, the Permian Panthers enter this portion with a district championship in their hands with a home playoff game.

Permian, which ended the regular season with a 42-39 victory over previously undefeated Midland Lee last week to clinch a share of the District 2-6A crown, will face a familiar opponent when the Panthers host El Paso Franklin for the second time this season. The teams, who last met Sept. 5, face off at 7 p.m. Friday at Ratliff Stadium in the bi-district round of the 6A Division I state playoffs.

The Panthers (6-4 overall) will be looking to avenge their 49-28 loss to the Cougars (8-2) from week two in the season at home.

“We’re fortunate to get to play against a team that we didn’t do so well the first time around,” Permian head coach Jeff Ellison said. “You don’t get that a lot. We’re looking forward to righting some wrongs from that first meeting with them.”

This will be the first playoff rematch against a regular-season opponent for the Panthers since 2007, when they went up against Euless Trinity twice. Permian won the first meeting 30-3 in week three at Ratliff Stadium, but lost rematch 38-14 in the regional round of the playoffs at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. Trinity went on to win the Class 5A Division I state championship, defeating Converse Judson 13-10 in the state final.

This year’s playoff game’s location will be the same as it was the last time Permian and Franklin met and that’s where the similarities end. The Panthers have gone in a different direction since then.

For starters, the last time Permian and Franklin played, quarterback Easton Hernandez was sidelined with a shoulder injury and didn’t return to action until week six against Odessa High.

Permian’s loss to Franklin came in the middle of the Panthers’ 0-3 start to the season. After week three, the Panthers reversed their fortunes, going on a five-game winning streak that included blowout wins over Palm Desert (Calif.) and Los Fresnos, before shutting out rivals Odessa High to begin district play.

Wins over Amarillo Tascosa and Midland High followed. A 24-13 loss to Wolfforth Frenship has been the only setback for the Panthers since their 0-3 start.

“Obviously, both teams have improved since week two,” Ellison said. “We’ve improved on both sides of the ball. In that last game against Franklin, we had a few guys that were injured that are back and that’s a plus for us.”

After starting the season on a promising 5-0, the Cougars fell to eventual District 1-6A champion El Paso Americas 17-13 on Oct. 10.

Franklin managed wins over El Paso Coronado and Pebble Hills. But sandwiched between those two victories was a 36-16 loss to El Paso Montwood, leaving the Cougars third in 1-6A.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be a positive or a negative,” Ellison said. “I just think that since we’ve played them before, we have a good idea of what they’re going to do. We know they’re a good football team. When you play a team a second time, the newness isn’t there.”

>> DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS Part of the reason for the Panthers’ resurgence has come on the defensive side of the ball.

After being outscored 132-49 from their first three games, Permian’s defense allowed only 28 points combined from its next three contests. The Panthers have recorded two shutouts this season as well.

“We’ve continued to improve, team-wise,” Ellison said. “Our defense has improved. We had some good individuals playing on defense early on and the rest of the unit has since picked up. The same can be said of our offense. I think part of that is because of our personnel. The other part is that we’ve got a lot of football under our belts. Hopefully, we’ll be better than we were in week two.”

>> NO PLACE LIKE HOME Last week may have been Senior Night for the Panthers, but now they’ll get to return for an encore.

“Any time you’re at home in the playoffs, it’s a great deal,” Ellison said. “Obviously, the other team has to travel and that can be a distraction for some and you also get your fans and you get to play in your own backyard. That’s hopefully a big plus for us.”

Last year and the year before, Permian also played its bi-district games at Ratliff Stadium, beating El Paso Coronado both times, winning 42-0 in 2018 and 50-17 in 2017.

>> HERNANDEZ’S NIGHT Hernandez couldn’t have asked for a much better performance against Midland Lee last week, running for 149 yards on 16 carries and throwing 8-of-11 for 142 while scoring four touchdowns.

“(Easton) will be the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done any of that without the help from the rest of his guys, including his offensive line and his defense getting the ball back and keeping us in it,” Ellison said. “He’s a special player. We’ve talked about as a team that when you have big time games like that, you have to make big plays and he did that on Friday.”

One of those touchdowns came on a double reverse when Alex Rose spotted Hernandez open in the end zone for an 18-yard score as the Panthers’ offense used a little trickery early in the game.

“That’s something that we’ve been practicing on for a few weeks,” Ellison said. “We have a few wrinkles here and there that have been with us all year, but that was the right time to call that this year.”

>> SUBVARSITY The Permian freshmen and JV teams went 4-0 against Midland Lee last week to end their season.

The Permian JV Black won 26-14, while the JV White also took the win 14-3.

The Permian Freshmen Black put up a 49-7 victory while the Freshmen White had a close 18-16 win.

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAmichaelba

Odessa, TX

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