After having its open date to recover and regroup last week, the Permian football team now faces one of its toughest challenges in the 2021 season.
The Panthers will square off against Midland Legacy at 7 p.m. Friday at Grande Communications Stadium with a chance to clinch a share of the District 2-6A title.
It’s the fourth straight season Permian can win a share of the championship, but head coach Jeff Ellison isn’t letting that affect his team’s focus heading into the important matchup.
“We try to put those things aside and just focus on the game at hand,” Ellison said. “Those things are going to take care of themselves if we take care of business.”
Permian is currently in third place in the district standings, sitting at 7-2 overall and 4-1 in district play.
Midland Legacy (8-1, 5-0) leads the district and Abilene High (6-3, 4-1) also can win a share of the title after defeating Permian 42-21 in September.
The Panthers currently have an edge in the all-time series against the Rebels, with a 40-23 record against the school formerly known as Midland Lee.
Permian also has a winning streak going against the Rebels, winning the last two matchups.
The last time the Rebels defeated the Panthers was in 2018 by a 43-36 score at Grande Communications Stadium.
>> AN ATHLETIC TEAM: Midland Legacy currently features multiple athletes that can change a game quickly on both sides of the ball.
Makhilyn Young has shown that he’s dangerous on the ground, picking up 1,750 rushing yards on 215 carries to average 8.1 yards per carry.
Sophomore Marcos Davila is the team’s signal caller, throwing for 2,206 yards and 21 touchdowns on his connections with Chris Brazzell, Donny Bishop and Nate Suttle.
Wesley Smith leads the Rebels with 97 total tackles, while Jeremiah Alvarado has 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
“They’ve had a great year this year, as have we,” Ellison said. “They’ve done a great job on both sides of the ball, they’ve got a very explosive offense, good football players and a good coaching staff.
“On the flip side of that, they’ve got great players on defense. Like it is every year, it’s going to be a hard-fought game.”
>> AVOIDING MISTAKES: Ellison added that his team needs to go out and finish tackles defensively, hold onto the ball and control the clock to slow a team like Midland Legacy down.
Fixing the fundamentals of those aspects was something the Panthers worked on during their open date, along with giving players a chance to recover and rest up from injuries.
When the head coach gave other athletes playing time to make up for those losses, he saw the experience they gained as a plus.
“I’m proud of the guys that had to step up and get playing time and playing experience, it just makes us better in the long run,” Ellison said.
>> HE’S GOT THE NUMBERS: Through nine games played this season, Rodney Hall has thrown for 1,281 yards and 13 touchdowns with only one interception.
The number of passing yards is good enough for 23rd on Permian’s list of 1,000 yard passers and the junior has a chance to jump up a few spots depending on how many times he throws the ball against the Rebels.
Hall also has 676 rushing yards, which are currently the seventh most yards on the ground picked up by a quarterback in the school’s history.
With the Panthers running the veer offense, the athletic signal caller could also surpass that number Friday.
>> LOWER LEVELS: Like the varsity, the junior varsity and freshman teams also had some time to regroup with an open date last week.
They’ll get right back into the action to close out their season with matchups against Midland Legacy on Thursday.
The Freshman Black and White teams will play the Rebels in Midland, with White kicking off at 5 p.m. at Grande Communications Stadium and Black playing at 6:30 p.m.
Both JV Black and White will host Midland Legacy at Ratliff Stadium, where JV White will play at 5 p.m. and JV Black kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
Permian at Midland Legacy
>> When: 7 p.m. Friday.
>> Where: Grande Communications Stadium
>> Last Season: Permian 55, Midland Legacy 44
>> Records: Permian 7-2 overall, 4-1 District 2-6A; Midland Legacy 8-1, 5-0.
>> Radio: KMCM (FM-96.9).
>> Live Updates: Follow on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya.