No area football team learned as much about the sport of football in the opening weeks of the season as Huston Academy.

That's because for many of the Panthers, it was the first time they played the game. It was certainly the first time they played for Huston Academy, which just established its athletic program this fall.

The Panthers lost to Blanket and Azle Christian, then spent two bye weeks being anything but idle.

"Our guys have been coming to work each week and showing real dedication. They're not worried about the win-loss column, they're worried about seeing improvement every week," said Huston athletic director and head coach Regis Idemudia. "That's all you can ask for as a coach is to have a group of kids who are striving to compete and to be the best they can be.

"It's been a good couple weeks, we changed up some things and worked on a lot of fundamentals," Idemudia added. "Now, we're ready to go out there and show what we learned and compete."

The competition will be provided by Zephyr, a long-established six-man team with some of the best facilities - including Safeplay Field Turf - of any small school in Texas.

"I know they're good, and I know they are a long established program. Blanket and Azle Christian were the same way," said Idemudia. "That's who we want to play are the teams that show us where we need to be."

Idemudia said he's proud of his team's defensive effort.

"Our defense has ben digging in deep," he said. "They're just getting better and better."

And offensively, he hopes Friday is the night the Panthers finally get to celebrate in the end zone.

"We're going to score us a touchdown. We came close once and could have kicked a field goal, but we wanted to get the touchdown," Idemudia said. "But we got closer and closer each game, so I know we'll get there."

Idemudia says two things really stand out about his team.

"The biggest things we've shown are, number one, the ability to be competitive, and number two, that we are willing to compete, all the time, against anyone. As long as those things are true, I think this is a young team that can grow into something special."

Idemudia said Huston Academy had the opportunity to face Zephyr's junior varsity team instead of its varsity on its homecoming night.

"I talked to the guys about it and they said, 'We go big or we go home, coach,' so we're going to play their varsity," Idemudia said. "That's what I love about these guys. They're never afraid of a challenge."