WATCH: Odessa Permian's Mojo Mystique
ODESSA, TX - With hallowed grounds come demons and ghosts. That’s no different for the Odessa Permian football program.
“There are ghosts on his field that these kids have to deal with,” said Todd Berridge. “And fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it, it’s in these stands as well. Those ghosts weigh heavy on their backs.”
Berridge is the official announcer for the Ector County ISD at Ratliff Stadium and has served in that capacity for the past five seasons. The stadium, built in 1982, is the iconic temple of Texas High School Football and has a seating capacity of 19,302.
Odessa Permian is the most famous high school football program in the world, thanks to Hollywood. Ratliff Stadium was the primary filming location for the 2004 motion picture hit, Friday Night Lights.
The movie, based on the book by H.G. Bissinger, chronicled the 1988 season of the Odessa Permian Panthers. That year, Permian didn’t win state or even advance to the state game, as the movie would suggest.
WATCH: MOJO MYSTIQUE
Berridge graduated from Permian in 1990. A year after the movie’s timeline was during his senior year, 1989. That year, Permian was undefeated and won the national championship.
“I was there for the whole mess,” Berridge said. “But the biggest crush of my entire life was actually in 1986 when we lost to San Angelo Central and it kept us from going into the playoffs.”
I love being in Odessa and part of Ratliff Stadium, one of the storied stadiums in the universe,” he said.
\From a former player’s perspective being a part of Mojo is what it’s all about in Odessa and follows you past your last snap as a Panther.
“Mojo is very special to me because I was born and raised here in Odessa,” said Class of 2001 graduate and former Panther player Mark Gonzales.
“You look forward to putting that P on the side of your helmet and that right there means the world and I got to experience that,” says Gonzales.
Moving forward Permian is coming off an 8-4 finish in 2018 in which the Panthers were close to completing a comeback against Arlington Lamar in the Area Round of the Class 6A Playoffs.
With spring ball officially done Mojo looks to have an idea of how it’s going to replace over 30 seniors from the 2018 campaign and leading charge from the QB1 position is former linebacker Easton Hernandez.
But with most of District 2-6A reloading, there is one team in the Little Southwest Conference that looks to be the early favorite.
“I know every team in the district is down as far as senior leadership except Midland Lee,” says Berridge. “While everyone else is rebuilding this year, Midland Lee has the inside track to be the district champs this year,” he said.
One team Mojo doesn’t have to worry about when the district season rolls around at least for another season is former Little Southwest Conference rival San Angelo Central.
“Everybody misses playing San Angelo Central because of the class of competitor they were,” says Berridge. “They’re right up there with Midland Lee and Odessa High. The fans miss it because it meant something.”
As a five-time state championship program, Odessa Permian hasn’t brought home a state title in almost 30 years but because of its storied past, the eyes of Texas always find themselves on Mojo. Overall expectations are still sky high for the Panthers.
“I would say if you don’t make it to the third round of the playoffs it's kind of a disappointing season,” says former Panther Mark Gonzales. “Making the playoffs is a blessing regardless but everybody has got high expectations and you want to go deep in the playoffs and experience it.”
\Permian opens the season on Friday, August 30th on the road against powerhouse Desoto.
Video by Manny Diaz. Article by Joe Hyde.
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.