Everything about Permian is regimented, scripted down to the core.
It starts with the uniforms. Permian has worn the exact same thing as long as anyone can remember. Flat black jerseys, Permian across the front. Flat black pants with a white stripe down the outside of each leg. Flat white helmets, a black stripe down the middle, and the block “P” adorning the side.
The Panthers run the triple option, an offense that’s ancient by football standards. It relies on quick decision making, blocking at the line of scrimmage, and the willingness of everyone, even the quarterback, to take a hit. The outside world may have changed, historic Ratliff Stadium may have added a video board, the market for oil may have changed, but the on-field product of the Permian Panthers remains the same: small, tough football players who run hard.
In a strange sense, the team that they’re facing is similar, despite the distance between the two schools. Bishop Timon – St. Jude is from Buffalo, New York, and there are only 27 kids on the travel roster. The Tigers don’t lack in size, some of their players are pretty big.
You might see the “New York” next to their name and think that they’re not tough, they’re from the city, they’re going to fold at the first sign of things going wrong. The “Buffalo” next to the “New York” should erase any of that talk. Buffalo, New York and the city New York are two so different things that they aren’t in the same stratosphere. Whereas the Odessa players are hardened by the dirt and dry heat, the Buffalo players are hardened by the snow and bone chilling cold.
According to sophomore linebacker Tanner Adams, Permian didn’t really know much about Bishop Timon coming into the game. All he knew was that playing a team from New York “was exciting, and we would have to come out and throw the first punch and get on top of them quick.”
Bishop Timon fumbled the opening kickoff, Permian’s option based attack surged down the field and scored in around a minute. For all their toughness, and all the glamour of coming all the way from New York, Bishop Timon didn’t exactly play well. They were 0-2 on the season before coming here, and their I-Formation attack wasn’t predicted to make a dent in the Mojo defense.
Two Permian penalties kept the Bishop Timon drive alive. A pass from quarterback Matt Meyers to fullback Joe Harrison made the game 6-7. Bishop Timon lined up for the two point conversion, and the rush was smothered in the backfield.
The subsequent Permian drive was punctuated by a 6-yard Kobe Robinson scoring run, and Bishop Timon came right back out in their I-Formation. For all the size Timon had, Permian just seemed to be faster. And in wars of attrition, speed beats size.
For Bishop Timon, they’re not just playing the other team, they’re playing the clock. Their drives are long and drawn out, they’re trying to keep their small roster fresh. If they can keep it close enough to keep running the football, they’re going to do it. They drove the field and scored again, giving the Panthers everything they had in their arsenal.
A huge pass to Hunter Hawkins scored and less than 5 minutes later, Matt Jones picked off a Matt Meyers pass to give the ball back to Permian. Permian quarterback Steve Steen, clad in the traditional Permian quarterback number in the 20’s, punched it in from 25 out. Permian went up 28-12 and never looked back, as the Bishop Timon players began to wear thin from the lack of substitutes.
After another Steve Steen score, the Bishop Timon Tigers could’ve given up. They were down 35-12 with two minutes left in the second quarter, they were clearly exhausted and outschemed. They never gave up, not even until the last whistle. They survived the first half against a team that was intent on running them ragged.
The Permian defense turned in a solid performance outside of the first two drives. The Mojo defense is unique; it has at least four sophomores playing at any given time. The Panther’s defense has had to grow up very quickly. According to Adams, the coaching staff told them exactly that, that they would have to “grow up very fast.”
Halftime ended, and the Panthers didn’t take much time scoring quickly. The Tigers were still here, still fighting, but the game was essentially over. Permian had figured out the Bishop Timon short game, and there was nothing the Tigers could really do about it.
Sometimes, that fight we talked about manifests itself in less than legal ways. There were a total of three ejections in this game; two of Bishop Timon’s players were ejected for late hits and a Permian linebacker was ejected for targeting. The pride and the never say die attitude of the players definitely spilled over a little bit.
The final was 55-12, Mojo. Ratliff Stadium remained unblemished by a Permian loss on the year. As you drive away, as the lights slowly fade, you’re reminded of all the history. When asked about playing for one of the most storied program in Texas, Adams lit up. He said, “I can’t even explain it. It’s amazing, you see the movie, then you go out and play, and it’s nothing like the movie.”
Permian is a real contender in 6A’s devastatingly good Region I, of that I am sure.