Parish Episcopal made quite a statement by winning perhaps the toughest private-school district in the state and earning a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Now the Panthers must win three more games to claim their first title at the TAPPS Division I level. That path begins with a quarterfinal matchup against Midland Christian at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene.
Parish (9-1) has won seven straight games behind junior quarterback Preston Stone, who had thrown for 2,604 yards with 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Stone, who also has 480 rushing yards and five scores, has numerous offers from top college programs.
However, the Panthers have plenty of weapons around him, too. Cauren Lynch has 11 rushing touchdowns. Five receivers have caught at least four scoring passes, led by Evan Greene and Christian Benson.
Plus, the Parish defense has been much improved this season behind safety Kaleb Culp and lineman Blake Burris, who is committed to Air Force. The Panthers have allowed just 12 points per game this season — with two shutouts — and have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 29.9 points.
The Mustangs (7-4) defeated Houston St. Pius X 46-22 in the first round of postseason play. The prior week, they toppled Fort Worth All Saints — the only team to take down Parish this season.
If they win this week, the Panthers would meet with Houston St. Thomas or district rival Bishop Lynch next week in the semifinals.