Back behind Permian High School, looming over the sprawling practice fields, stands the monument to Mojo football.
The white sign, about 50 feet long, is the resume of four decades of Permian football: six Texas 5-A titles, 11 championship games, more District titles than you can count. It is at once intimidating and a potent challenge for the players who wear the black and white of Mojo.
The derivation of "Mojo" comes from a Permian game against Abilene Cooper in the mid '60s. The version most people embrace is that old alumni from Permian who were attending the game started cheering "Go Joe, Go Joe, Go Joe" as a Permian player ran down the field. But the slurred version that came out sounded more like "Mojo, Mojo, Mojo."
There are some, however, who believe that the Permian cheerleaders learned a cheer at summer camp containing the phrase "Mojo" and unveiled it at the same game.
Either way, the word "Mojo" permeates everything that is Permian football.
Roy Williams, Permian's star wide receiver -- he averages an astounding 30 yards a catch -- watched his brother, Lloyd Hill, tear up Permian opponents 10 years ago. Now, he may be the best wide receiver in the state, which is to say, perhaps the country.
"I've been waiting for it ever since I was in junior high," he said. "That's when my brother got that national championship up there."
Williams, kneeling on the practice field, pointed to the sign that celebrates Permian's 1989 mythical national championship.
"That's kind of boosted me up," Williams says. "You know, 'I want to be a Permian football player. I want to wear (his brother's) No. 18.' Now, I got my own number (No. 26), and I see little kids walking around with jerseys, No. 26, and that makes me kind of happy."
It makes the town of Odessa happy, too. Ratliff Stadium, which cost $6 million to build back in the early '80s, when that was some kind of big money, seats nearly 20,000, and that doesn't count the lawn space in the end zones.
"The town is 100,000, and you get 25,000 people in there," says Brian Chavez, the starting tight end in 1988 and now a lawyer in Odessa. "I mean, that's a quarter of the town. If you did that in Dallas, the stadium would have to fit two million people.
"You are Permian football out there, and it's just like a drug and it just takes you over. It's addictive, and you don't look toward anything else. The only thing you look forward to, the only thing that's in your head, is Permian football."
-- Greg Garber