- James "Boobie" Miles - A star fullback for Permian heading into the 1988 season. The previous season he had rushed for 1,385 yards and showed flashes of brilliance. This season would be the season for him to shine and lead the team to a Texas state championship. Boobie was being heavily recruited by major college football programs such as Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas A&M and USC and had professional football aspirations before suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He would never recover 100% and eventually quit the team in a rage.
- Mike Winchell, the starting quarterback for the Panthers. He is portrayed by Bissinger as a boy who is mostly level-headed, but prone to nerves. His play is unspectacular, but effective. He feels a lot of pressure from the town and peers alike.
- Brian Chavez - A very intelligent player. He is valedictorian of his class and attends Harvard University after graduating from Permian. He is a tight end. He is mostly seen as an example of the good in Odessa, a diamond among rocks.
- Ivory Christian, a middle linebacker for the Panthers. A punishing hitter with excellent reflexes and athleticism, Christian is a religious person. He struggles to enjoy playing football, realizing that there should be more to life and spends much of his time in thought. He is the only senior player from the 1988 Panther football team to receive a Division I football scholarship, attending Texas Christian University.
- Don Billingsley, a Permian halfback who frequently finds himself in trouble with the coaches. His father is a local legend for being a star player for Permian in the late 1960s, though Don is known more for his off the field activities, which at the time included drinking, fighting, and womanizing.
- Jerrod McDougal, a Permian offensive tackle, who has sacrificed a lot to become varsity for Permian and, at 5'9", knows he is too short to play at college level, so practices several times a day to bring himself to an advantage.
- Gary Gaines, the head coach for Permian. A bright football mind who constantly deals with the pressures from the fans, the booster club, and the lofty expectations of being head coach for Permian.
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