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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Burns helps pave the way for Permian offense - Odessa American: Prepsports

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Burns helps pave the way for Permian offense

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2019 10:25 pm

Sam Burns has been living in the moment.

The Permian senior offensive lineman, who plays at guard, has been making the most of his last season with the Panthers as he’s been one of the main anchors on the front line.

“I’ve just been taking it all in and realizing that’s it’s my last season, but also living in the moment and to do everything that we can,” Burns said. “It’s just something that I’ve been focusing on personally. I just focus everyday on my teammates and us getting better as a team just improving as a team.”

With two years of experience at the varsity level, Burns has had to undertake a list of numerous responsibilities that come with being a high school senior.

“I like the responsibilities of being a senior and the leadership that it takes,” Burns said. “It takes a lot to be a senior leader in our program.”

Being one of the few starters returning this season, Burns knew back in August that he had to step up and help the new players get adjusted to the varsity level.

“I just knew that I had to put the pressure on myself and know that the younger players haven’t been in the fire before,” Burns said. “There’s going to be times in games when I’m going to have to step up and be the voice of the offensive line and help out.”

The Panthers came into this season with plenty of new faces after going 8-4 last year, earning a share of the District 2-6A title and making a run to the area round of the playoffs.

But this year, Permian had a tough start to the season, losing its first three games. Since then, however, the Panthers have won five in a row, carrying a 5-3 overall record and 3-0 in District 2-6A with a spot in the state playoffs already secured.

Burns attributed Permian’s turnaround to the Panthers focusing on this year’s team and not looking too much at the past.

“I think, honestly, we thought about being the best team that we can be and not being as focused on last year’s team that we can be,” Burns said. “Because I felt like a bunch of people at the start of the year were too focused on last year’s team and trying to live up to it and I think we lost focus of what we had instead of what we lost. But now we’re starting to figure it out as a team and we’re doing well.”

The team hasn’t lost since its 48-7 loss to Southlake Carroll on Sept. 13 at home. Since then, it’s been one win after another.

“I’ve loved how our whole team has reacted after going 0-3 which is very tough to where we are now,” Burns said. “The whole team’s maturity has grown. Everybody that needed to grow up grew up fast. You can see it on Friday night’s how we’ve just gotten better.”

The Panthers have now already clinched a spot in the state playoffs with two games to spare in the regular season.

“I think just focusing on what we need to do,” Burns said. “We can only worry about us getting better and that’s what we’ve done.”

Burns wasn’t the only player with varsity experience returning on the offensive line this year. Seniors James Bruce and Issak Gamboa have also returned this season, making the Panthers’ line one of the few areas of experience when the season began.

“Bruce and Gamboa have been really good seniors,” Burns said. “It’s not just me. They’ve been there and able to step up and lead. We also have Blayne Porras, who has gotten better for us every week, and Harris Sewell has been playing well as a freshman. He’s a special kid. It’s a unique offensive line. Everybody has their own thing that they’re good at.”

Burns said he’s enjoyed playing for head coach Jeff Ellison, who also coaches the offensive line and has worked with Burns ever since junior high.

“Coach Ellison has been coaching me since I was a seventh-grader,” Burns said. “He and I have a good relationship. We’ve known each other for six years. We’re very comfortable in terms of knowing how he wants us to perform and how I can help the offensive line to a standard that he sets.”

Coming off a 62-0 victory over Midland High last week, the Panthers know they have a bigger challenge this week when they face the Wolfforth Frenship Tigers (6-2, 2-1) at 7:30 tonight at People’s Bank Stadium in Wolfforth.

“We just have to keep practicing with the same mindset that we’re getting better each day and showing up on Friday nights and give our best efforts,” Burns said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine. We like our chances at scoring more points than the other team.”

The Tigers are coming off a 65-21 victory over Odessa High last week at Ratliff Stadium. Their only loss in district play came against Midland Lee 59-36 on Oct. 11 at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.

“We’re just focused on taking it one game at a time and we know (Frenship) has a high-scoring offense,” Burns said. “We look forward to the challenge and to go on the road and to play a good team and to come away with a win.”

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