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As darkness descends over the flatlands of West Texas, every Friday EVENING, from September through December, a dazzling, disorienting glow, visible on the stark horizon for miles around, ignites the blackened sky. Looming over the landscape, Ratliff Stadium, the country's biggest high school football field, overflows with 20,000 spectators, their voices raised in the trademark chant: "MO-JO! MO-JO! MO-JO!" The crowd's jubilation rises to a fever pitch as the Permian Panthers--Odessa's "boys in black"--take to the field like warriors in an ancient coliseum. Once a week during the fall, this town and its dreams are carried on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes. The exalted players are illuminated beneath the autumnal glare of those Friday night lights; the radiant glare serves as a beacon of hope to the townsfolk of this dusty West Texas town.