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Odessa Permian Football History

By Alan Bass

Permian High School, in Odessa, Texas, is one of the most storied high school football programs in Texas. With six state championships and numerous other district championships, the program gained national attention after the 2004 movie, "Friday Night Lights," based on H.G. Bissinger's book, "Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream," which chronicled the 1988 season. The program has produced numerous college and professional athletes and inspired an NBC TV series.

Beginning the Program

The Permian High School football program began in 1959 when the school was first established. In the team's first season they were coached by Ted Dawson and enjoyed moderate success. But the seeds had been planted for an explosion of success in the decades to come.

1960s and 1970s

The Panthers won their first district championship in 1960, their second year of existence. In 1965 the team hired Gene Mayfield, who led them to a state championship in his first season. He continued to coach them through 1970, finishing with 62 wins in just six years. Through the 1970s, the program continued to gain respect. The Panthers finished an undefeated season by winning another state championship in 1972. The team won four more district titles through 1978.

1980s and 1990s

The Panthers won state championships in 1980 and 1984 under coach John Wilkins. In 1985 the school hired Gary Gaines, who immediately led them to an undefeated season and state championship in 1989. The National Prep Poll and National High School Football Poll both ranked Permian No. 1 in the nation after the 1989 season. The team won one more state championship in 1991 under coach Tam Hollingshead, but enjoyed uneven success for the remainder of the decade.

2000s to Present Day

After the theatrical release of "Friday Night Lights" in 2004, the team enjoyed a brief resurgence after nearly a decade with no playoff appearances. Coach Darren Allman led the team to two district championships, while Gary Gaines was again hired as the team's head coach in 2009. Unfortunately, Gaines was only able to lead the team to one playoff victory before resigning his position in 2012. The 2013-14 Panthers were coached by Blake Feldt, who has led the Panthers to a 14-10 record in his two seasons.

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