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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Panthers focused on Midland Lee - Odessa American: Football

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Panthers focused on Midland Lee

Panthers already in playoff mode

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Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2018 9:42 pm

The Permian Panthers won’t really get to where they want to be unless a trip to AT&T Stadium the weekend before Christmas is involved.

Heading into Friday’s regular-season finale at Midland Lee with a playoff spot assured, Panthers interim coach Jeff Ellison said the team has already made significant strides this season, but there’s more to accomplish.

“After talking to our guys and seeing them move around, it’s really our overall team confidence,” Ellison said of Permian’s progress. “We’re not looking past anybody. We know the challenges Lee brings and that’s why this is a great game for us right before the playoffs. It’s a championship week every week from here on out.

“Our kids are confident in our prep that we’ve done throughout the year. We’ve had some games where we’ve played some tough opponents. The Tascosa game, we were in a tough situation in a tough environment. We’ve been successful in those situations and out of that success, even on some negative aspects of those games, have found ways to fight. You just gain confidence. They’ve done a good job of that.”

Outside linebacker Cameron Martinez said team unity has been the key for the Panthers, who enter Friday’s game at Grande Communications Stadium with a six-game winning streak.

“It’s just playing together,” Martinez said. “You make sure that you do your job and you rely on your teammates to do their jobs. You’ve got to trust your teammates to be successful.”

Cornerback Rakeeb Adeyemi offered a similar sentiment.

“It’s just everybody buying in,” he said. “I think we’re at a good point right now. We’re realizing that we’re only guaranteed two more games, this next one and the (bi-district) game. We just have to keep working every single day and keep getting better.”

Both Martinez and Adeyemi said the Panthers know what they have to do to extend their season beyond next week’s bi-district round.

“We’ve just got to come out and be playing better than everybody else when it hits playoffs,” Martinez said. “Just come out and play.”

“We’ve just got to keep working every day, keep moving forward and make it go as long as we can go,” Adeyemi said.

>> DISTRICT 1-6A SCENARIOS: Permian, which is locked in as District 2-6A’s No. 1 seed in the Division I bracket, will face either El Paso Montwood or El Paso Coronado in the bi-district round. That won’t be determined until Friday, when two games will determine three of the four District 1-6A representatives.

The situation has the Permian coaching staff playing a waiting game as far as beginning preparations for next week.

“We obviously haven’t traded film or anything like that,” Ellison said. “We’ve just got to be ready with our scouts to hit the ground running as soon as we get everything ironed out.”

El Paso Franklin has already clinched the 1-6A championship and the Division I No. 1 seed. Coronado and Montwood are part of a four-way tie for second with El Paso Americas and El Paso Pebble Hills.

Coronado, which has 1-6A’s largest enrollment, can only qualify for the Division I bracket, while Montwood could wind up in any of the three remaining spots.

The four teams are all 2-2 in district with Americas having defeated Pebble Hills, which defeated Montwood, which defeated Coronado, which defeated Americas. On Friday, Coronado plays Pebble Hills and Montwood plays Americas in a doubleheader at Socorro ISD’s Student Activity Complex. The winners are guaranteed a playoff berth, while one of Friday’s losers will also advance.

Among the possible outcomes:

>> If Coronado and Montwood win: Montwood is Division II No. 1, Americas is DII No. 2, Coronado is DI No. 2 and Pebble Hills is out.

>> If Americas and Coronado win: Americas is DII No. 1, Pebble Hills is DII No. 2, Coronado is DI No. 2 and Montwood is out.

>> If Americas and Pebble Hills win: Americas is DII No. 1, Pebble Hills is DII No. 2, Montwood is DI No. 2 and Coronado is out.

>> If Montwood and Pebble Hills win: Pebble Hills is DII No. 1, Montwood is DII No, 2, Coronado is DI No. 2 and Americas is out.

>> BURNING DAYLIGHT: However long Permian’s season lasts, the Panthers’ final practice of the year will likely end just like the first one began — under the lights at Wilkins Field.

With the end of daylight saving time, most, if not all, of Permian’s remaining practices will finish well after sundown. The Panthers began the season with a 6 a.m. workout on Aug. 13.

For Ellison, it’s just part of the job, albeit a fun part.

“The kids were talking about it, ‘when do we get to turn the lights on?’” he said. “That’s always been a deal for us when you get late in the season that you’re getting to practice underneath the lights in the evening.

“When the weather drops down, it gets a little crisper and the lights are on, it’s late in the year, you’re practicing in November and December. That’s what you want to do.”

With a teacher in-service day and an early practice on Monday, the Panthers didn’t actually practice under the lights until Tuesday.

Defensive lineman Zach Burlingame said the after-dark practices will make it easier to simulate a game atmosphere, but there really won’t be much difference.

“We’ve just got to go out there and play like we’ve been playing,” he said. “Nothing really changes but the light, and we’ll have the lights on out on the field. It’ll just be the same.”

>> RECRUITING PROCESS: Permian quarterback Peyton Powell's commitment to the University of Texas was a bit unusual, coming as it did on Oct. 23 during the midst of district play, but such is becoming the norm with the NCAA’s early signing period for football. This is the second season in which players have a three-day early period (Dec. 19-21) in addition to the traditional national signing day in February.

Ellison said while it’s one more thing for high school programs to deal with, it also puts more on college recruiters.

“Everybody’s still working on the adjustment to the timing of that,” he said. “They’ve got to get in and do their job, also.

“Coach (Thad) Fortune, our recruiting coordinator, does a good job of communicating with the coaches and the kids. Our coaches are aware of things that are going on and kind of keeping everybody grounded and focused on what we’re doing right now, and at the same time supporting them for their future.”

Ellison said Powell was able to maintain a proper balance throughout his recruitment.

“Peyton has gone and taken some visits on Saturdays, but he’s done a good job of staying focused,” Ellison said. “We talked about it before the process got going with the season and everything that we’re supporting him wherever he wants to go. It’s great for him and he’s earned it. For him to go to the University of Texas, to have that offer and accept it, is a great honor for him.

“At the same time, he’s a Permian Panther right now. For him and some of the other guys that are in the recruiting process, that’s the biggest thing. And they’ve done a great job of staying focused. It’s be easy to kind of get distracted. It’s a great deal getting to go to different campuses and things like that.”

And even after making a commitment, the process may not be over. Offensive lineman Landon Peterson withdrew his commitment to Baylor on Oct. 26 and reopened his recruitment. Peterson said he expects more contact from colleges after the season.

“It kind of dies down because they’re also in season, as well,” he said. “It’s a little bit slower, but there towards the end when they’re starting to reach the end of their season, it does pick up.”

>> DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Defensive end Matt Jones recorded six tackles with two tackles for loss, three pressures and a pass breakup, while cornerback Rakeeb Adeyemi had a season-high five tackles with a pass breakup. Linebackers Andy Notley, Tanner Adams, Teo Banks and cornerback Christian Tschauner each had four tackles as Permian held Frenship to 43 plays, the second fewest by an opponent this season.

Adams, Tschauner and safety Keatyn Armstrong each had one tackle for loss with Adams and outside linebacker Cameron Martinez each recording a sack. Notley, Tschauner and safety Chase Stell had one pass breakup apiece.

>> SUBVARSITY RESULTS: Permian JV Black 23, Wolfforth Frenship 17; Permian JV White 48, Wolfforth Frenship 42; Wolfforth Frenship 33, Permian Freshman Black 31; Wolfforth Frenship 34, Permian Freshman White 30.

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