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Portal Panthers battle ECI

Portal Panthers battle ECI

Portal Panthers battle ECI


    PORTAL — Rested from a much needed off week, the Portal Panthers return to action tonight looking for their first win of the season. But to get it, they’ll have to knock off the defending state champion Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs.
    “We had a couple of guys who were nicked up and this (bye week) gave us a chance to recuperate,” said Portal Head Coach David Nesmith. “We are pretty much as healthy as we’re going to be.”
    Portal (0-2-1) will once again face a size disadvantage along the line of scrimmage against the bigger Bulldogs (2-2).
    ECI is led offensively by running backs Michael Sutton and James Brown. Combined, the duo has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
    “They’re a well-coached team,” Nesmith said. “They don’t really do anything flashy. They just line it up pound it right at you.”
    Directing the offense will be quarterback JuKobie Boatright who can hurt teams with both his arm and his legs. He’s thrown for 173 yards and two touchdowns while running for 111 and a score on the season.
    Nesmith thinks his defense will be up to the challenge as long as they continue to play solid, fundamental football. Two weeks ago there were able to hold a Johnson County team that was averaging 40 points a game to a scoreless first half before fatigue set in.
    The Panthers, meanwhile, will continue their option attack with quarterback Evan Street and running backs Casey Jones and Fred Holloway leading the charge.
    “Offensively, if we can click on all cylinders like we did in the first half against Johnson County, we’ve got a chance,” Nesmith said. “It’s going to boil down to whether or not we can move the football, keep the clock running, keep the ball out of their hands and not make any big turnovers.”
    Nesmith recognizes it will be a challenge for Portal against a team that hasn’t lost more than two games since 2005. He’s hoping for a big crowd to come out and support his team and provide a home field advantage, especially since he’s expecting ECI to bring a good crowd from Twin City.
    “On paper, we don’t match up well with them,” he said. “But we don’t play the game on paper. We’re going to tee it up and see what happens on the field.”
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., at the Portal Athletic Complex.

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