With a roster that rarely creeps too far above 30 players, Portal is usually dependant on big individual efforts whenever it notches a win on the football field.
So far in the 2014 season, Malik Williams is 2-for-2 on those big efforts.
Williams rushed for 119 yards and scored both of the Panthers’ offensive touchdowns in Portal’s season-opening win over Josey on Aug. 29. Last week, the junior amassed over 300 yards of total offense as the Panthers improved to 2-0 for the first time in nearly a decade.
Whether it came running, receiving or returning, Williams was a threat to score anytime he touched the ball in a 34-19 triumph over Treutlen.
“It was crazy,” Williams said. “It just seemed like I was in the right place every time I touched the ball. A lot of that has to do with my teammates. Every time I started running, everyone had a block to give me room.”
Coming off of a rough 2013 campaign – and with a new coaching staff in place – Portal was a bit of a mystery entering the season. Two weeks in, it seems clear that the Panthers are intent on being a pleasant surprise.
“I think we were confident coming into the year,” Williams said. “We believe in our coaches and in each other. Getting these wins is great, and we’re just going to keep on going.”
Ever since her 8th grade year at Bulloch Academy, the Fall has been a very busy time for Ashley Burke.
The senior has been a staple for multiple Lady Gator athletic squads during her tenure. In the first months of each school year, Burke plays shortstop for the perennial state title contending Gator softball team. In her spare time, she has also become an All-State and All-Region runner on the cross-country circuit.
“It’s a lot of work,” Burke said. “Every day, I’m getting up early and running. Whenever I have some extra time, I’m hitting in the cage. I like both sports and I do whatever I can to do my best at both.”
Her best is far above what most can hope to achieve.
In Bulloch’s first cross country meet of the season, Burke blazed through the course in just 22:10 to top the rest of the field.
Burke’s accomplishments roll over to the softball diamond as she is batting .517 with a home run and 15 RBI. An RBI single off of Burke’s bat on Tuesday helped the Gators to a 2-0 start in region play.
“My goal is to do my best in everything,” Burke said. “I’m trying to get my times down for region and state in cross country. In softball, we always believe we can win state and try to do it every year.”