by Lee Passmore | from amarillo.com posted 8/29/2012
photo by Dexter Harper | North Amarillo Now
They’re not in the same district or even the same classification, but it always seems as if Tascosa and Palo Duro are on equal footing entering the high school football season.
Traditionally, the Tascosa Rebels and Palo Duro Dons have been the Amarillo ISD schools to kick off the season at Dick Bivins Stadium, and that will be no different Thursday. They square off at about 8 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader and for the 51st time in the series.
Class 5A Tascosa and Class 4A Palo Duro have seemed to provide a fairly good gauge for where each other stands over the last four seasons.
While the Rebels have won four straight in the series, including the last three under coach Ken Plunk, no victory margin has been by more than five points.
So don’t be surprised if a play here or there has a big impact, as those little things could set the foundation of what may come later in the season.
“The thing we’ve emphasized the most is to take care of the football,” Plunk said. “We need to be able to block and tackle well and that sort of thing. At this point, you’re just looking for execution.”
The Rebels will have a different offensive identity this season, as they’ll run an option offense led by new quarterback Peyton Brooks. Ironically, the Rebels and Dons may have exchanged offensive identities over the last season.
While Palo Duro opened last season against Tascosa by running the Wing-T, the Dons have switched to more of a throwing offense led by sophomore quarterback Malik Sims. With a talented corps of receivers led by Charleston White, there’s no reason to expect them not to throw the ball.
PD coach Steve Parr will be looking at some less obvious things.
“I think you want to have fun but see how you execute with some things against other people and take a long look at the kicking game,” Parr said. “There’s a lot of unknowns because you haven’t gone against anybody else in a game situation yet.”
Parr knows how much a kicking game can help or hurt after last season, when the Dons went 2-8 and lost their final five games, yet three of those losses were by a total of seven points. The opener against Tascosa might have been a harbinger of tough luck to come, as the Dons rallied late but lost 15-12.
Despite three straight wins against Palo Duro, Plunk knows not to take anything for granted due to how narrow the wins have been.
“They’re a good football team who are really athletic,” Plunk said of the Dons. “Just being in the city and knowing them well, I feel a bit of pressure in this game.”
Parr knows this territory just as well.
“It’s going to be a really hard-fought ball game, this being a city rivalry,” Parr said. “Walking down that ramp the first time is going to be the most exciting time of the year for a lot of these guys.”