Friday Night Fox Sports

Fox News South West visits Odessa to cover the PHS v AHS game

Jordan Groening, Staff Writer

***The interview conducted for this story was conducted the morning of Oct. 16, before the PHS vs Abilene high game.  Permian defeated Abilene 37-17.***

High school football excites thousands of fans each Friday night, and for the night of Oct. 16 Fox Sports Southwest predicted a local game for their Dairy Queen Big Game of The Week.

With a kickoff of the season the Permian Panthers had won their first district game, and the Abilene Eagles owned a start of the same luck with a defeat over San Angelo Central. But those first games were not qualification for the, “Dairy Queen Big Game of The Week.” After reviewing coaching, team records, and improvements Fox Sports SW were able to define a schedule for what they believed would be the eleven best games of the district season, with Permian vs. Abilene ending up as the week eight game. Once the games were established FSSW traveled to follow up play-by-play for the feature of the event.

“When the schedules come out in June, when Dave Campbell’s magazines come out and all the preseason football bowls, I basically sit down with that stuff for about three weeks or a month and do nothing but look and see what’s a good game and why,” reporter Neil Beasley said.

As a reporter for Fox News South West and host of the high school spotlight show, Beasley leads the decision on who and what goes into the week’s feature. Progress shown in teams and historical aspects surrounding the teams help Beasley make his choice.

“It starts with the history of the cities,” Beasley said. “Abilene was the high school to be at in the 50s. And the team they’re playing? Oh, Mojo! Everyone knows Mojo from Friday Night Lights. They’re 6-0, they’re here now.”

Abilene High School held numerous state championships in the 1950’s for both football and baseball, bringing pride and entitlement to the Eagles. Permian High built its own position of success over several decades, leading to the creation of a book and movie modeled after the football team. In the 2015 pre-season games, Permian remained undefeated.

“Abilene has a new coach for the first time in twenty years. I felt like Permian’s coaching staff has been developing year by year and I thought they’d take that extra step this year,” Beasley said. “You kind of have to forecast while looking at these but I thought this would be a great game.”

With players often as the center of acknowledgement, coaching is often understated by average admirers of the game, although their instructional guidance creates all plays. A change in leadership is one of many factors that can help or hurt a team.

“The city, the school, the history, and then we go to the other city,” Beasley said. “We try to do a report of everything that surrounds that game.”

All components that surround the teams are the authentic aspects that add to the game experience – creating an exciting story for FSSW to report, according to Beasley.

“Our feature story is going to be five to six minutes long, a huge undertaking to get it all shot, logged, written, and edited because it airs at midnight,” Beasley said.

With footage of Permian’s pep rally, Abilene’s cheer practice, both schools’ historical highlights, the game and halftime show, Beasley and his coworkers worked diligently to provide a mash of coverage to relay on air at midnight after the game.

“We want to highlight the student game day experience,” reporter Kaime Stroot said.

Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook were ways the public could follow up with all parts of the event, thanks to Stroot’s updates while she participated.

“I think Permian has never shown a weakness,” Beasley said. “They can’t be stopped and I don’t think they will be stopped tonight.”

As it is, the Panthers finished district play 5-1, sharing the 2015 District title with the San Angelo Bobcats, and then winning the Bi-District game against the Arlington Bowie Volunteers 49-12. They will next take on the Amarillo Tascosa Rebels this Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. in Lubbock’s Plains Park-Lowrey Field football stadium for the Area title.