Hello all you Panther fans out there, this is Slammin’ Sammy Meade here welcoming you to another season of Dillo High School football. The first episode tied up a few loose ends left after the strike shortened last year’s team. Smash Williams hurt his knee in a devastating playoff loss, and lost his scholarship. His hopes are still high as we first encounter him doing calisthenics with the legendary Coach Taylor. Toward the end of the summer, Tyra and Landry also apparently called the whole thing off. They remain friends though, which may indicate a willingness to rekindle. Buddy’s ex-wife ran off with the kids to northern California to live with the environmentalist health food nut, leaving Lyla to live with her father. I must say I like this move, and that Buddy is better off without her.

The third season promises to be a change of pace as several people are playing new positions. Not only has Tammy made the switch from counselor to principal, Riggins has also been converted from fullback to halfback. There are also a few new faces, as a new freshman quarterback, J.D. McCoy, who spent his junior high years as a record setting passer, just moved to town from Dallas. There were a few rumors swirling that he’ll take over the job from a mediocre Matt Saracen, it being a rebuilding year and all. But Coach has stated unequivocally that Matt is our man, and our boys should not, and will not be taken lightly this season.

I must say that I don’t like the idea of Tim Riggins being moved from fullback to halfback. His playing style and temperament indicate he should be blocking and only occasionally running the football. His early lack of connection with Saracen indicates the adjustments he needs to make if we’re to be a championship caliber football team this year.

The move from counselor to principal was a rough transition for Tammy. I was worried she would lose her contact with the students and cease to be a bridge between the children and the administration. But so far, that has not been the case. She is rationing her time between the demands of the football team, the needs of the teaching staff, and the morale of the students quite well. She is having a harder time balancing the budget, until Buddy entered stage right with a JumboTron check for the football stadium. His idea came from imagining a wedding proposal at a football game (on said JumboTron), mixing the “two greatest things on earth, love and football.” This check was later reapportioned to the academic interests of the school, perhaps creating a serious later conflict between Buddy and Tammy.

Tyra has not been handling Tammy’s shift from counselor to principal nearly as well. She was told that, though her grades are progressing nicely, her freshman year grades still counted and that she’d have no chances of leaving Dillon for a four year school after all. She heads down the road of temptation and nihilism one more time, until Billy Riggins and her sister become engaged at a local watering hole, and she has an image of what her life might end up looking like without the assistance of Tammy and the benefits of education.

Riggins and Lyla’s relationship blossomed over the summer, but Lyla became apprehensive once school started and Tim showed his traditional (and true to form) jock disposition. Riggins, displaying uncharacteristic affection, reached out to a graduated but injured Smash for girl advice. This is not something the Mexican-vacation taking Tim Riggins would be doing, and I must say I disagree with this newfound emotion. When Tim finally confronts Lyla about their relationship status, she fills him in on why she likes him but cannot take him seriously. Basically she criticizes everything that makes him Riggins.

On the booster front, Coach Taylor and the father of J.D. McCoy are getting off to a rough start. Mr. McCoy and Buddy are getting friendly, which concerns Coach. After having dispatched a smoothie truck from his practice field (a summer gift from McCoy) he is understandably fed up with this father’s politicking. During an apologetic conversation, McCoy finally explains to Coach why he moved his family from Dallas, not for the Panther program, but for Coach Taylor himself. He thinks his son is the next Panther franchise player, in the mold of Jason Street and Smash Williams, and wants him to be molded by the best around.

In the meantime, Smash is still working at the Alamo-Freeze while rehabbing his knee. He is on schedule to make a full recovery, but the prospect of his abilities not returning to the Smash-level leave Brian Williams nervous and checking his gut. He and Riggins decide that the doctors have a better-informed opinion of his knee than their well-intentioned coach, so the Smash retires to his life as Brian Williams of the Alamo-Freeze.

This segment ends on a football note as the Panthers take the field for the first time. It ends up being a runaway game, with Riggins taking Lyla’s words to heart, and finally taking his football skills and position seriously. Matt Saracen plays very well, and is eventually taken out in garbage time, to give J.D. McCoy a few snaps. These few plays provide a snapshot for the next few years of Panther football as he throws two strikes, one for a touchdown.

Coach leaves the post-game celebration in an effort to demonstrate to Smash that he has the ability to make it to college if he’s willing to put in the effort now. They play a competitive game of racketball, over which Brian admits that he misses football. After feeling the competitive juices run through his system, Smash reconsiders his decision to hang up his football shoes.

The first segment seemed to cram a lot of events into the first hour, and at times it seemed like it was too much to process. We should all be looking forward to hearing from Jason Street, Herc, baby Gracie, and Grandma Saracen. The table has been set and we can count on several significant plot twists. Let’s pray for another great year of Panther football.

Recap By Leon Phelps