The Permian Panthers conducted their first spring football practice Wednesday at John Wilkins Field in preparation for the 2018 season.
Panthers’ coach Blake Feldt said the team got things started off on the right foot, but that there is plenty of work still to be done.
“I thought it was our best first day of spring that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Feldt, who is entering his sixth season with the program. “We’ve got the main part of our team coming back from a year ago and we’re really excited about what we have in store for us at Permian High School next fall.”
Class 6A and 5A teams are allowed to conduct up to 18 spring practices within a 30-day period. Permian will conclude spring training with the Black-White game on May 16 at Ratliff Stadium.
The Panthers graduated more than 30 seniors from the 2017 team, which went 9-2 and won a bi-district championship after finishing second in District 2-6A. Among the positions left open by graduation are quarterback, slot receiver and left guard on offense, while the defense has to replace most of its linemen, outside linebackers and safeties.
That has Feldt and his coaching staff experimenting with players at different positions in an effort to fill all the holes.
“We’re moving some guys around and that’s what the spring’s for, to look at different people at different spots,” Feldt said.
Complicating matters is the fact that several players, such as returning defensive starters Tanner Adams and Christian Tschauner, are still busy with the Permian baseball team, which is in the thick of the District 2-6A playoff race.
“Baseball is in its season and our baseball team is doing great right now,” Feldt said. “Coach (Tate) Criswell and his staff are doing a great job over there on the baseball diamond. They’re in the middle of their season, so that takes priority over spring training.
“They’re over there practicing baseball and are part of a really great baseball program we’ve got going right now. Hopefully, they can finish out strong and make a long run in the playoffs.”
With Steve Steen among the graduation losses, the starting quarterback spot is up for grabs. Among the candidates is Peyton Powell, a rising senior who transferred in from Midland Christian after starting for two seasons.
As a sophomore with the Mustangs in 2016, Powell was 124 of 218 passing for 1,918 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 1,594 yards and 26 touchdowns. Last season, Powell completed 96 of 195 passes for 1,077 yards and 13 TDs while rushing for 1,077 yards and 12 scores despite missing three games because of injury.
“He’s new to the program, obviously. We’ll see how he does,” said Feldt, adding that competition at the position will continue throughout the spring.
“We’re always looking at guys at all of the positions, and that’s true at the quarterback spot, as well,” Feldt said.
Rising senior Christian Rodriguez and rising junior Easton Hernandez were Steen’s backups last season.