ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – An incredible season last year for the Permian Panthers in District 2-6A, was cut short in the first round of playoffs. This year, the Panthers are ready to tackle their district once again and have another shot at a state title.

Being a team well-known for their fight and strength over the years and always a contender for playoffs always puts eyes on Permian. The Panthers have only missed the postseason once since 2011. And last season was no different.

Permian finished 9-1 in the regular season, walking away with a share of the district title. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their hopes of a long post-season run were cut short in the first round.

Now this new team is ready to prove the work done in the offseason, will pay off come Friday night.

Senior linebacker Victor Ramirez said, “We just want to win. We’ve been working hard for it all summer, all spring, all fall. We’re just going to go out there and show what we’ve been doing.”

“The offseason, it was great. Every single day we came to work, ready, bringing the intensity and I feel like it’s going to transfer onto the field,” Senior defensive end Frank Alvarado added.

Last year, the Panthers proved their ability to make big moves on both sides of the ball, scoring 100 points more and rushing almost 1500 yards more than their opposing offense, all while their defense finished with 26 total sacks and 7 interceptions.

Head Coach Jeff Ellison said he sees a well-rounded team in front of him.

“We’re explosive, we’ve got a great run game, we’ve got deep threats again this year so, it’ll be a very explosive offense,” he said. “Defensively, again we hang our hat and pride ourselves on how we fight on the ball and we saw that last Thursday and how physical we were there and so I anticipate we make big plays on our defensive side.”

Newly selected captain, senior running back Juzstyce Lara had a key influence in last year’s offensive game plan, with over a thousand yards and 24 touchdowns, but this year, he believes the team working as a unit will be the biggest difference.

“Coming together more as a team,” Lara added. “You know we’ve been working really hard and I’m glad we’re building our relationships and I’m looking forward to running behind that big o-line we have.”

And that powerful offense is what excites the Panthers this season.

Coach Ellison said, “Offensively, you know, I think that we pride ourselves on both sides of the ball of being physical, especially up front with the offensive line.”

“It’s great running behind that big o-line,” laughed Lara. “You know, they do their job every play, you know they come out and hustle. Do it fast, 100%, they’re never going to give up.”

For opposing teams, getting into the endzone might be difficult against this MOJO defense.

Alvarado yelled. “Best defense in Texas baby, let’s go!!”

“We’re explosive, we get to the ball every play. We want to go out there, we want to hit them you know? That’s what defense does. That’s what we do. Ay, it doesn’t matter who it is, a five-star, a six-four guy, it doesn’t matter,” Ramirez laughed. “We’re going to hit them, we’re going to hit them hard. We’re going to do everything we can to turn the ball over.”

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine predicts the Panthers will finish third in their district. On top of that, Panthers linebacker, Parker Haynes was selected as the district’s preseason defensive MVP.

The season kicks off for Permian this Friday, August 25th, at home, against Abilene.

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