TICKETS FOR THE SHOWDOWN AT MIDLAND HIGH DIDN'T GO ON sale until Tuesday afternoon, which explained why the first handful of Permian fans started camping outside the gate of Ratliff Stadium Sunday night.
About fifty came together in the darkness. Once the gate was opened, others flooded in and began battening down for the thirty-six-hour vigil. Since many of them had done it before, there was no particular trick to it. Some spent the night in elaborate motor homes as long as railroad cars. Others slept in sleeping bags in the backs of their Suburbans, and others just caught a few winks in lawn chairs. During the day they used umbrellas to shield themselves from the West Texas sun. An Ector County sheriffs deputy was on hand to make sure no fights broke out over who was where in line.
By Tuesday afternoon the line snaked almost the length of the parking lot and 366 fans were in it. One Permian booster, surveying the happy, bleary-eyed skein of people waiting to buy tickets for what, on the surface at least, was just a high school football game, looking out over the parking lot filled on a workday afternoon not only with vehicles but with generators to power television sets and card tables for playing dominoes during the quiet hours before dawn, came to what seemed to be an inarguable conclusion: "Aren't Mojo fans crazy sons of bitches?"