“The atmosphere of football down there, I mean it’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing,” said Palm Desert senior defensive back Parker Lyons.
For the first time in school history, Palm Desert is hitting the airport for a game. To play none other than Permian High School, the team that inspired “Friday Night Lights.”
For some of the Aztecs, this will be their first time on a plane.
“Getting to go compete with the highest level of football in Texas. And also the bonding part, what this is going to do for our team going into league,” said Palm Desert Head Coach Shane McComb. “It’s going to bring us closer and make us a more physical football team, playing a team like Permain. Just excited for the whole thing over all. It’s great for the community and great for our program.”
“Were all motivated to go play this team. You know, ‘Friday Night Lights,'” Lyons said.
“To play Permian High School, part of the movie Friday Night Lights. It’s definitely going to be a big crowd there. That stadium, Ratliff Stadium is huge,” said Palm Desert senior offensive lineman Elijah Sanchez.
Huge is right. Ratliff is one of the largest high school football stadiums in America. Seating just under 20,000. To put it into context, the Annual Flag Game usually brings out 5,000 to 6,000 people.
Oh yeah, and it just happens to be Permian’s Homecoming. So exactly how important is football culture in Texas?
“It’s everything, especially in West Texas,” McComb said. “From the stories and like I’ve said before, you can watch YouTube clips of their games and the community involvement. It’s going to be similar to a small Division I college with the involvement and what it takes for a football game to go on there.”
The Panthers are 0-3 on the season so far, but they compete in the biggest and best division in all of Texas. Two of those losses came to teams ranked in the Top 100 nationally. So how is Palm Desert preparing for the matchup?
“We intensified the practices. Hitting harder. We know they’re going to be very physical… it’s Texas,” Sanchez said. “They’re going to cut-block us. We’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Coach McComb knows it’s going to be a battle, but he believes his team can be competitive. He’s excited for this experience to make them stronger, both on and off the field.
“It’s going to be great for the kids, they’re going to remember it for the rest of their lives,” he said. “But as for this year, it’s going to make us more physical and bring us together as a group.”