CHADRON, Neb. — October 17, 2019 — After playing its best game of the season during the rousing 42-23 win over Adams State last Saturday, the Chadron State Eagles will be at home again this Saturday to meet their only non-conference opponent of the season. Kickoff will be at noon.
The visitors are making a long trip. The University of Texas Permian Basin is located in Odessa, in oil rich west Texas. This is just the fourth year the school, which has about 7,000 students, has had a football program.
But football is not new in Odessa. That’s where the blockbuster movie and television series, “Friday Night Lights,” were set. Both were based on a non-fiction book that told the ups and downs and the thrills and chills of high school football.
So far the Permian Basin football program hasn’t been too successful. Each of the past three years the Falcons have finished with a 2-9 record. They’ve already won twice this season, defeating Wayland Baptist 60-7 in the season-opener and Northern Michigan 40-24 the next Saturday.
Since then things have gotten tougher. Permian Basin is in the prestigious Lone Star Conference, which often has teams going deep into the NCAA II playoffs.
The first and last of the conference clashes this season have been close. Midwestern State, which was 8-0 in the Lone Star in 2017 and 8-2 last season, edged the Falcons 14-8 on Sept. 21. Last Saturday, West Texas A&M, a perennial power in several sports, had to go all out to slip past Permian Basin 14-10.
In between Tarleton State downed the Falcons 49-7 and Western New Mexico, a former member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, won by a 47-28 score.
After watching Falcons’ film briefly Monday morning, CSC Defensive Coordinator Craig Jersild said Permian Basin will be a challenge.
“They’ve got a lot of talent,” Jersild said. “They have a good offensive line and lots of speed. They also run some unique plays. They are quite a bit like Adams State from what I’ve seen so far.”
Four quarterbacks have shared playing time. The most experienced is senior Cameron Mathis, who threw for 400 yards against Angelo State as a freshman in 2016 and has played in five games this fall, connecting on 22 of 42 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
During the last two games, Cameron Leake, a 5-11, 165-pound freshman, has seen the most action. He’s completed 26 of 54 passes for 286 yards, but has also been intercepted seven times.
Chadron State Head Coach Jay Long complimented both the Eagles’ offense and defense for playing well during the final three periods against Adams State.
“We played well on both sides of the ball.” Long said. “It was fun to see us play so well, but it didn’t surprise me. That’s what we’ve been expecting. We’ve just got to keep it up.”
The coach was particularly pleased that the Eagles were well balanced on offense, passing for 328 yards and rushing for 210. Long added that having speedster Priest Jennings available after recovering from injuries was a plus.
“When we’re able to run the ball, it makes our passing game better,” Long noted. “Our offensive line continues to improve and that helps a lot.”
Jersild said the defensive unit is also getting better with more players getting onto the field.