Pigskin Preview: Odessa Permian Panthers

The Permian Panthers will count on their senior captains to lead a team that is young, but talented.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 9:21 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Being chosen as a team captain is an honor for any athlete. But at Permian High School, that “C” patch on the football jersey means just a little more.

This year, running back Juzstyce Lara, linebacker Victor Ramirez, and defensive end Frank Alvarado were chosen as Permian’s senior captains.

Alvarado spent the spring and summer rehabbing a knee injury.

“It means a lot to me, knowing that my teammates voted for me,” Alvarado said. “It wasn’t an easy offseason, but we worked through it the whole time, and came out.”

Ramirez is listed at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds. He is the fiery, emotional leader among Permian’s captains.

“It’s really an honor,” Ramirez said. “I know my boys trust me to lead them. I’m gonna bring the energy to them. Let them feed off of me. I’m gonna feed off of them. And we’re just gonna play together.”

Meanwhile, coaches say Lara is quiet, but can be seen mentoring the young players on offense. He scored over 20 touchdowns last year, and will wear Permian’s famed #18 jersey.

“The coaches said the best player gets to wear #18,” Lara said. “That’s the tradition here. It’s really an honor to wear it.”

Lara leads Permian’s run-first, triple option approach, with fellow running backs Isaac Herrera and sophomore Gavin Walker. Herrera may also see time at quarterback, though it appears the battle for that job is mainly between sophomore Jakob Garcia and junior Evan Garrett.

Those guys will all run behind a massive offensive line, that includes tackles Julio Madero (6′5″, 305) and Hector Vasquez (6′6″, 280).

“Across the board this is the biggest offensive line I’ve coached in 21 years,” head coach Jeff Ellison said. “We’ve got some big guys up front and that’s where it starts. They’re gonna be ready.”

The amount of competition at Permian’s practice stood out, with the best players on both sides of the ball frequently facing off.

“They do it all,” Ramirez said about the offense. “Spread, triple option, the veer. They’ve got some good runners. They’ve got some good catchers. They’ve got a good quarterback. He’s young, but he’s good. The better they are, the better we’re gonna get.”

“The defense, they fly around,” Lara said. “They impress me everyday at practice.”

Permian has earned at least a share of the district championship four of the last five seasons.

“I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else in Texas,” Ellison said.

“There’s definitely some pride in it,” Alvarado said. “At the end of the day we just have to do our jobs. If we execute, we win games.”

“We’ve been outworking everybody,” Ramirez said, “And we’re gonna show it off on Friday nights.”