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The Fort Stockton High School Panthers open the 2019 football season at Kermit, in what will be the first of six road games this season.
For Panthers head coach Mike Peters, season-opening games carry a aura of mystery as game film is limited and usually reveals only a snapshot of the team's playbook.
“I know we didn't show a lot (of plays) in our scrimmages,” Peters said. “We've run a lot of stuff in practice. I don't like showing too much in a scrimmage. We only have about 10 plays of film on Kermit. Their second scrimmage was rained out.”
The Panthers blanked the Yellow Jackets 33-0 in last season's opener. Both teams went on to third-place finishes in their respective districts last season – Kermit (1-2, 5-6) in 3A-1 District 1 and Fort Stockton (4-2, 8-3) in 4A-2 District 1 – and first-round playoff losses.
Kermit head coach Bubba Ross has five starters back on offense and six on defense. Two of the returnees are players who missed the second half of the season with injuries: quarterback Arturo Gonzalez and linebacker/tight end Brady Johnson.
For the Panthers, Erik Bislar took the majority of the snaps at quarterback and went 8-for-9 in the Del Rio scrimmage, including 2-of-2 in the live half.
The game will mark the debut of new head coaches for both schools. Matthew Luddeke is in his first-ever head coaching job after replacing Corby Maurer following his resignation in the spring. At Crane, Jeff Cordell was hired in June, and replaced Steve Rodman. Cordell was previously the head coach at Sonora, going 17-7 over two seasons.
Crane lost to Iraan, 27-7, in last year's opener. The Golden Cranes (3-0, 8-4) went on to win the 3A-2 District 1 crown. Crane, like, Iraan, lost in the Area round of the playoffs.
Crane returns five starters on offense and four on defense. Running back Brandon Cerna totaled 1,777 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He'll have two returning starters on the line inb center Devon Butler and tackle Nathan Palos.
For Iraan, it all comes down to numbers with only 19 players out for the football program this season.
Iraan returns Kyler Miller at quarterback, running backs Dylan Kent and Koree Deneergaard, and receiver Jermaine Bernal.
Second-year Longhorns head coach Dale Pustejovsky might be getting a glimpse of the future as Buena Vista hosts the Oilers.
The Oilers went 0-10 last season with a roster heavy with freshman and sophomore starters – including a 61-7 loss at Buena Vista in last season's opener.
This year, it is the Longhorns with six freshman among a roster of 11 players facing an Oilers team that is now a year more experienced. Even with a small and young roster, however, Pustejovsky is talking playoffs, not a winless season.
For Buena Vista, freshman Dylan Esquizel will make his first start at quarterback.