After taking the spring and summer to fine tune and prepare, the Permian football team is set to start its 2021 season.
The Panthers will host El Paso Pebble Hills at 7 p.m. Friday at Ratliff Stadium, marking the first meeting between the two schools.
Permian head coach Jeff Ellison hoped his 2021 team would have some live game experience, or at least some scrimmaging experience, by the time the season started but Mother Nature had other plans.
The team’s lone preseason scrimmage against Amarillo High last Friday was canceled after a lengthy lightning delay that lasted more than 90 minutes.
Permian quickly got back to work Monday on a newly-turfed Wilkins Field.
“We’re really excited, they’re wanting to play football and I want to see them play football,” Ellison said. “Disappointed that the weather didn’t work out with us last Friday but it was a great focus today and a great start for the week.”
The Panthers go into their first matchup with a high volume of upperclassmen, bringing experience and leadership to the locker room.
Some of the team’s younger players and more recent varsity call-ups haven’t gotten the chance to line up in a live game setting, but Ellison isn’t worried about how his athletes will get their first opportunities.
“Everybody’s got to have a first scrimmage, a first snap, first game,” he said. “Just so happens this is going to be in a game, so we’ve just got to step up, grow up and play ball.”
Permian will play against an El Paso Pebble Hills team that saw its 2020 schedule limited by the effects of COVID-19 in its area.
>> FIRST DATE: This is the first time the Panthers will match up with the Spartans, since the El Paso school officially opened its doors in 2015.
The teams were scheduled to face off last season in El Paso, but that game was canceled and Abilene Cooper replaced El Paso Pebble Hills on Permian’s schedule.
Ellison said it feels good to kick things off at home, where the Panthers will play six of their 10 scheduled contests over the campaign.
“We were on the road a lot last year, so it’s good to be home a little bit more this year,” Ellison said. “We just have to do a great job of focusing on us, staying together and executing.”
>> UPGRADES: The Panthers will see some upgrades when they first take the field at Ratliff Stadium on Friday,
Their scrimmage was originally supposed to take place at the turf field south of the stadium last week because construction workers weren’t finished installing new turf at the playing venue.
Along with the new playing surface, the stadium will also feature a newly replaced south end scoreboard.
Permian will be the first team playing under these updates, as Odessa High will be on the road this week.
>> DO WHAT YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: Since these teams have never played before, they might not have a feel for what their players bring to the field.
Permian defensive coordinator Vance Washington said El Paso Pebble Hills sent over some game film from last season, so the Panthers have used that to study up before the season opener.
The Spartans’ young but experienced skill position players are some of the factors Washington wants his defensive group to key in on.
“The quarterback was a freshman last year, he kind of was thrown in to duty and he did a great job for them last year,” Washington said. “I expect him to be even better this year and I think he’s a really good athlete.”
El Paso Pebble Hills quarterback Gael Ochoa and running back Erik Marin are players to look out for in the season opener, according to Washington.
“We want to be fast and physical, that’s something that we preach every single day,” he said. “We don’t want mental mistakes.”
>> SUBVARSITY SCHEDULE: The junior varsity teams and one freshman team will hit the road to open their season schedules.
JV Black will face off against El Paso Pebble Hills at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Van Horn, while JV White will play San Angelo Central at 5 p.m. in San Angelo.
The Freshman Black team will also play against El Paso Pebble Hills at 5 p.m. Thursday in Van Horn.
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
EL PASO PEBBLE HILLS AT PERMIAN
>> When: 7 p.m. Friday.
>> Where: Ratliff Stadium.
>> Last Season: Did not play.
>> Records: El Paso Pebble Hills 0-0; Permian 0-0.
>> Radio: KMCM (FM-96.9).
>> Live Updates: Follow on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya.