It's been a long time since the Portal Panthers have been a force on the football field. And through the first four games of 2019, it's evident that those tough times are continuing through at least one more fall.
More than half the season remains for Portal, but the first month of competition has netted an 0-4 record that has seen increasingly lopsided scores.
The main culprit for the Panthers has been their offense, or rather the absence of it. Portal broke loose on some big plays and manufactured some sustained drives in its first two games, but the production has taken a hit with just eight points scored over the last two games.
The Panthers had a bye last Friday, giving them an extra week to try and get things moving in the right direction.
Portal makes the trip down I-16 tonight to take on Savannah Christian. The Raiders enter with a losing record of their own at 1-2, but they appeared to get their business in order with a 52-6 drubbing of Wheeler County two weeks ago before also enjoying an off week and extra time to prepare for Portal.
This will be the first Region 3-A subregion game of the season for Portal.
Region and subregion standings have been made mostly irrelevant at the Class A level due to power polls determining which teams will make up the public and private school state playoff brackets, but Portal's unique spot in the GHSA world continues to make it's recent tough times all the more difficult to break out of.
The Panthers — along with Claxton — are offset from the other four schools in the subregion that hug the coast, making for a few long road trips per season. Portal also has an annual cross-region rivalry with Emanuel County Institute, which has been a perennial top-10 team for over a decade.
The big picture continues to produce the immediate situation in which Portal finds itself. But the Panthers have been through this before and always manage to break through and find bright spots while working towards sunnier days.
It's another grind for the Panthers, but they continue to be up for the challenge.