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Panthers look to bounce back
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PHS FOR 11.10

Portal head coach Justin Chester talks about Friday's game with Jenkins County.
    Though the Portal Panthers are already assured a playoff spot. Don't expect them to take tonight off against the struggling Eagles of Jenkins County.
    "We play to win," said PHS head coach Justin Chester.  "We're going in to win the ballgame at any cost that it takes. We're playing these guys almost as a 'must-win' game for us."
    At 3-6 overall, 3-2 in region 3-A, Portal is coming off their worst region loss of the season, a 39-7 drubbing at the hands of No. 1 Emanuel County Institute on senior night at the Portal Athletic Complex.
    "Losing like that to one of our biggest rivals at home on senior night, was rough," said Chester. "The guys were disappointed Friday night, but we just gotta face the facts. They're the No. 1 team in the state and they're a great football team."
    But just as the Panthers went back to work Monday afternoon, they were dealt another blow. Senior running back Clayton Williams partially tore his MCL and ACL, finishing his career at Portal, not only as football player, but as a basketball player and a baseball player as well.
    As for getting ready for JCHS tonight, Chester knows containing the athletic speed of the Eagles will be key.
    "We've played some teams early this year that have had a lot quickness and that can hurt you," said Chester. "Teams like Bryan County, we knew going into that ballgame that if the were to break one they could really hurt us. We did a good job of containing it for the most part all night."
    Chester compared that situation to tonight's. The Panthers broke an eight game losing skid with a 21-13 win in Pembroke on Oct. 13. The win started a streak of three straight victoies for the Panthers before last week's loss to ECI.
    The Eagles (1-8, 0-5) of Jenkins have lost eight in a row and haven't beaten Portal since 1999. It's senior night in Millen, and Chester said the Panthers must be wary of an emotional Eagle team looking to end its season on a winning note.

    Chad Bishop can be reached at (912)-489-9404.