Panthers are going to State in ’08! What a magical week it was in Dillon, Texas, for fans of the Blue and Yellow. Emotions ran high because of twists around every bend. Grandma Saracen took a spill out of her car as she was backing out of the driveway and it became clear no amount of personal supervision would protect her from herself. The Garrity family finally broke down after hanging by a thread for so long, and it may or may not recover. That wasn’t the only thing on Buddy’s plate, as the boosters had to contend with a redistricting plan that might dismantle the powerhouse football team in the name of a better education for the children. Landry and the Collettes finally made amends, and it seemed as though the seeds for a Landry-Tyra reunion tour were planted. JD and his father, Joe, went through their growing pains, as JD came into his own and started making decisions for himself. This week was a return to form for Friday Night Lights as a TV show and for the Panthers as a football team, as they survived to fight another day.

Grandma Saracen and Matt’s mother still don’t get along, because his mother has yet to earn Lorraine’s trust back after what happened in their distant past. Nitpicking every detail, she insisted she was able to shop for themselves, and that his mother did not need to get help from Matt. Having forgotten her purse inside the house, Lorraine tried to get out of a moving car and earned herself a round trip ticket to the hospital. Thinking his mother was careless, Matt fought hard to retain control and care for his grandmother, going so far as to kick his mother out of the house. A few episodes later, including one in which she could not find the slippers that were on her feet, Matt realized the dreaded day had come in which he could no longer care for the woman who had raised him.

Lyla also realized, albeit under different circumstances, that she could no longer care for the man who had raised her. She got into Vanderbilt, but was unable to pay for tuition because her father had squandered her education fund. Lyla turned to Tim Riggins as her only family, regretting her decision to stay in Texas while her mother and siblings moved to California. Assuming the role of her rock, an increasingly unsurprising Tim Riggins kept her in line, getting her to stop her self-pitying, take responsibility and make the necessary changes in her life by applying for student loans and scholarships. Buddy also made tracks toward becoming a train wreck, having lost everything that he loved, save the Panthers.

The boosters faced an uphill battle with the state and school district over the opening of East Dillo High School. The boosters were understandably against it, as two town schools would dilute the football talent. The school system was in favor of it because the state and federal governments were attaching strings to funding, and they would receive more from a two-school program. The students would get a better education, on account of the increased resources and smaller class sizes. It seemed pretty cut-and-dry, but the boosters put up their valiant fight. The plans haven’t become final, but the boosters have alread taken the lead in redrawing the district line, moving it from a straight line through the city to a zigzag designed to keep the best players in Panther territory.

The holy union between Mindy Collette and Billy Riggins is still on, and Tyra has assumed the role of wedding planner. In a moment of taste, Mindy decided her bridal shower was going to be a tea party. While shopping for the shower essentials, Tyra ran into Landry, who volunteered his mother’s scone recipe. Throughout the day, the two exchanged flirts and it became apparent the two of them had mutual feelings. Crucifictorius was booked for a few more shows, and being a decent front man for a rock band was sexier to her than being an asshole cowboy. Having grown a set last week, Landry now knew that his kindness was going to be reciprocated and it seemed like the wheels were rolling toward romance. Only time will tell.

Last week, JD passively stood up to his father by sneaking out with Madison against his father’s wishes. This week, he didn’t seem to be himself; he was detached from practice and ignored his parents. He thought he had it under control, but he didn’t seem to realize the weight put on football in the town. His father, being a member of the boosters, understood the importance of that Friday’s game. This created conflict as Joe thought JD was pissing away his opportunities and shirking the responsibilities of being a quarterback.

The weather for the semifinal game was miserable, it was pouring rain. Joe took JD aside and gave him a pep talk; drilling into him the strategy for such weather, which was to run the football and make short, accurate passes. During the game, JD ignored that advice and routinely threw the long passes. His accuracy suffered and he even threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Per usual, the game was a nail biter, and if it weren’t for a Tim Riggins blocked punt and a last ditch two-point conversion, the Panthers would have lost.

After the game, JD and Joe finally had a confrontation. Joe was understandably upset about being ignored, and JD was arrogant about having won the game. The argument came to blows, with Coach Taylor finally intervening after he realized what was happening. The family was torn apart, with the matriarch taking JD’s side and both of them sleeping at the Taylor’s. This was a classic example of the overbearing parent finally pushing the child too far, until he finally stood up for himself. It will be interesting to see where the McCoys end up, if it leads to divorce or if they can make amends. It was very nice to see JD come into his own, though we could have done without the risk taking on the field.

The state championship is next week and our Panthers are going to play with our pride on the line. The starting quarterback situation is a mystery, with Matt having experience at this level and it being his last high school game, and with JD’s reckless decisions this week. It seemed to be a bigger deal when they went to State two years ago, in the first season, but that may be because it is expected these days, with JD and Riggins as stars. As the saying goes, victory goes to those who want it more. There is no doubt this town needs a victory in the title game, but it seems like the expectations instead of desires are going to lead this team toward a loss I am truly looking forward to a moving pre-game speech by Coach Taylor in which the emotion ending begins by him saying, “Second place is the first loser.” Until next time Panther Fans, let’s pray for a state championship.

Recap by Leon Phelps