HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Big plays jumpstart Permian, Panthers prepare for Southlake Carroll

Postseason football is all about surviving and advancing and that’s exactly what the Permian football team did in its 37-26 victory against El Paso Franklin Friday in the Class 6A Division I bi-district round.

The victory, the 91st in program history, gave the Panthers a playoff victory for the fourth straight season.

Head coach Jeff Ellison said following the game said that he was pleased with the team’s overall effort and that big plays helped his team get a spark after a slow start.

Some of those big plays in the first half included a Jayden Pruitt interception, a successful fake punt by Kayden Baze and a mishandled Franklin punt that led to 17 first half points for the Panthers.  

“It was good to see the momentum go our way,” Ellison said. “We weren’t playing up to our levels of expectations early on and those big plays got us going.”

Ellison knows that the Panthers will have to play a cleaner game moving forward. He also credited his team for stepping up and making plays when it needed to on both sides of the ball.

“They’ve been doing it all year with having to come back from adversity,” Ellison said. “I was pleased with their effort, especially towards the end.”

He also acknowledged Franklin’s efforts for how they played as well.

“Their staff does an outstanding job,” he said. “They’ve had a rough year like all of us but they did a great job.”

Up next for the Permian is a different challenge — and a familiar one at that. 

The Panthers are back at work preparing for their Class 6A Division I area round game against Southlake Carroll, set to kick off at 4 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene. Carroll defeated Haltom City Haltom 49-14 in its bi-district game Friday.

This is the third straight year, and fourth time, that Permian and Carroll will meet. The Dragons have won the previous three meetings, including a 48-7 victory last year at Ratliff Stadium.

The only other postseason matchup came in 2006; where Carroll won 42-6 and went on to win its third straight state title.

In order to come away with its first area title since 2014, Ellison knows that his team will have to be at its best. The winner this time around gets the winner of Lewisville-Arlington Martin.

“They have a lot of history and are a great football team,” Ellison said. “They’re very balanced and do a great job on offense and special teams. So, we’ve got to do a great job of preparation this week to play an outstanding game.”

>> RECORD BREAKER: Senior receiver Shy Stephens-Deary officially made sure he stood alone in the Permian record books Friday. His 21-yard touchdown catch early in the second quarter was the 18th touchdown catch of the season for Stephens-Deary, breaking the record previously held by Roy Williams in 1998.

>> DUAL THREAT: For the third time this season, quarterback Harper Terry finished a game with over 100 yards rushing and passing for the Panthers.

Terry had 111 yards passing against Franklin while also rushing for 107 yards. Terry also accomplished that mark in games against Midland Lee and San Angelo Central in the regular season.

He’s the ninth Permian player in program history to reach that mark and Steve Steen is the only other player to set that mark multiple times over the course of the season.

>> EXTRA RECOGNITION: Public address announcer Todd Berridge gave a special recognition to the fans and family members for Franklin prior to the start of the game Friday. It was the first time all season that Franklin played in front of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions in El Paso.

>> CLEAN SWEEP: All four District 2-6A teams defeated the four District 1-6A squads from El Paso. Midland Lee defeated Montwood 66-21, San Angelo Central defeated Eastlake 54-35 and Abilene High defeated Eastwood 42-35.

San Angelo Central faces Haslet Eaton in its area round game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene. Abilene High squares off North Crowley at 7 p.m. Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.

Midland Lee is the last to play as the Rebels take on Euless Trinity at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas