The Fort Stockton High School football team will look to shake off the sting of their first lost of the season when it travels to Monahans to face the Loboes at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18.
For the second straight season, Snyder derailed the Panthers perfect start. This one stung as Snyder was winless coming in before pulling off the 14-12 win in a game head coach Mike Peters said he was concerned about in the days leading up to kickoff.
“I could feel it Monday that our attitude was not where it needed to be in preparing and respecting an opponent,” Peters said. “We talked about it all week – about our focus. I felt like we were just not being there.
“Overall, we didn't play bad. But we've got to play to good enough to win when they count.”
Peters has a better feeling from practice going into what he knows is always a tough matchup at Monahans. The Panthers are coming off an open week, which was also case last year when the Panthers pulled off the 14-7 win on overtime.
“I think our guys were more focused than normal simply because we are coming off a disappointing performance the previous week,” said head coach Mike Peters, who added that carried over into this week's practices.
The game is pivotal on several fronts. Monahans (2-1, 2-5) has already lost in district to Pecos, while beating Snyder and Lamesa. Since the Panthers lost to Snyder, but beat Pecos, a win over Monahans would give them an edge in tiebreakers against two teams.
Of course, Peters' preference would be for the team to control its own fate with wins over the next four games against Monahans, defending district champ Greenwood, Sweetwater, and Lamesa. In Monahans and Greenwood, the Panthers are facing the two teams currently ahead of them in the standings.
“We're in control of what we do right now,” Peters said. “For us, it is like the playoffs have already started. We have to win out these next four games, and that starts with Monahans. It's a huge task.”
The game will mark the return of running back Pedro Vasquez whose rushed for five touchdowns and more than 200 yards in the season-opening win over Kermit before injuring his knee. His time could be limited and he gets back into football shape both physically and mentally.
“Until you get into some contact drills and realize that everything is going to be OK, everyone – from our level on up to the NFL – that's a huge hurdle to overcome.”
Offensive tackle Ed Prieto, who has missed two weeks, will also return.
Monahans is coming off a 42-27 win over Snyder. The team lost Oct. 4 to Pecos 34-32 (a team Fort Stockton beat 35-13), and beat Lamesa 54-13.
Monahans wants to avoid losing to Fort Stockton in consecutive season and losing to both Pecos and Fort Stockton in the same year.
Monahans lost four straight games to open the season in former McCamey coach Fred Staugh's first season at the helm.
Weeks ago, Peters expressed concern that once the Loboes posted their first win, that they might get on a roll ahead of the game with Fort Stockton.
“Just like I thought all along, Monahans is getting into its groove,” Peters said. “It's a football town with tons of tradition and high expectations, and high expectations usually led to achieving some goals.
“When a team starts off rough, everyone wants tot write them off. That's never going to happen there.”
Monahans has a decidedly different look under Staugh, who has installed a spread offense and more of a run-and-shoot style play.
“For us, it is not a matter of focusing on where they are, it is a matter of focusing on where we are,” Peters said.