It wasn’t easy at times, but the Permian football team did what it has done for seven consecutive seasons and that’s make the state playoffs.
Going into last week’s chaotic District 2-6A finale against Midland High, the Panthers’ only way of getting into the playoffs was to simply win against a Bulldog team that was having its best season in years.
The Panthers took care of their task with a 21-14 win last Friday at Astound Broadband Stadium thereby punching their ticket to the postseason once again.
“It feels great,” Permian head coach Jeff Ellison said. “I’m proud of our kids and our coaching staff and how resilient they’ve been this year and to finish it off on Friday, I was proud of everybody.”
Now, the Panthers (6-4 overall, 3-2 in district) get a familiar opponent from District 1-6A in the bi-district round as El Paso Pebble Hills (8-2, 6-2) pays a visit to Odessa for this Friday’s 7 p.m. contest at Ratliff Stadium.
>> YOU AGAIN?: Friday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s bi-district game in which the Spartans won 45-28 and its probably safe to say that Permian remembers that loss.
However, while last year is in the past, both teams met in a scrimmage this season back in August in Van Horn.
“We’re familiar with Pebble Hills,” Ellison said. “We scrimmaged them this year and played them in the playoffs last year and this year as well. Their quarterback is a good football player. Their defensive line is strong. We’re very familiar with them and our guys are fired up and ready to get back to Ratliff on Friday against a good football team.”
Quarterback Gael Ochoa leads Pebble Hills’ offensive attack, having thrown for over 2,000 yards already this season.
Pebble Hills finished second in the District 1-6A standings and is coming off a bye week, having beaten El Paso Eastlake 31-21 in its last game back on Oct. 26.
The Spartans have won four straight ever since their last loss which was a 24-23 defeat to El Paso Americas on Sept. 29.
Pebble Hills’ only other loss came against El Paso Eastwood in a 49-42 contest on Sept. 8.
>> HOME SWEET HOME: The Panthers will be returning to Ratliff for one final time this season in this week’s bi-district game.
“It’s great,” Ellison said. “Going into the playoffs, you’re never sure about how things will work out as far as where things are going to be and everything else as far as the venues. It was really special for our seniors to get another game at Ratliff.”
It’ll be the first time the Panthers will be hosting a playoff game at Ratliff Stadium since 2020 when Permian defeated El Paso Franklin 37-26.
It’ll be the seventh time in the last 10 years that Permian will be playing its bi-district round at home. So far, the Panthers are 6-0 during that stretch.
The last time Permian lost a bi-district round at home was a 23-7 defeat to Lubbock Coronado back in 1996.
>> SETTING THE TONE EARLY: Permian wasted no time against Midland High in last week’s game as the Panthers scored on their first two offensive drives to take a quick 14-0 first quarter lead.
“We knew we needed to do that,” Ellison said. “We got the ball first, so we were able to score on that possession and they got the ball back with about four and a half minutes left in the first quarter and we were able to stop them on their opening drive and we were able to go back and score again. I think that was a big deal for us. We knew coming out of the half that they were going to continue to fight so we did a good job of holding to it at the end.”
The offense would get another score in the fourth quarter to keep the Panthers in front as the Bulldogs began to come back.
Permian’s defense would take care of the rest.
>> SPEAKING OF: Last week’s game was another dominant display from the Panthers’ defense which has made a huge turnaround in recent weeks.
Ever since the Panthers’ 46-44 loss to Wolfforth Frenship on Oct. 20, Permian’s defense has only allowed 14 points in each of their last two games, a difficult feat considering the amount of high-scoring games from all over 2-6A this year.
For Ellison, last Friday’s display from Permian’s defense was the best he’s seen all year.
“They were flying around,” Ellison said. “Going back and watching it on film, it was good to see. The kids have been doing that all year. We’ve been in some close games. Some have gone our way and some haven’t. But I think we’re showing everybody the kind of football team that we have and the kind of fight that we have. I’m very proud of our defense.”
El Paso Pebble Hills at Permian
>> What: Class 6A Division I Bi-District playoffs
>> When: 7 p.m. Friday
>> Where: Ratliff Stadium
>> Last season: Pebble Hills 45, Permian 28
>> Records: Pebble Hills 8-2; Permian 6-4
>> Radio: KMCM (FM-96.9)