Calvary Day (6-2, 4-0) at Portal (2-5-1, 2-2)
7:30 p.m., Friday
Portal Athletic Complex
In their last four games, the Portal Panthers have alternated wins and losses. If the trend holds, they’re due for a win tonight.
To get it, they’ll have to knock off the top team in subregion 3A-A as they host a Calvary Day team that has won six consecutive games by an average of 41 points.
“On paper we don’t match up with these guys,” said Portal Head Coach David Nesmith. “We’re going to have to have some breaks go our way.”
The Cavaliers (6-2, 4-0) have been an offensive juggernaut this season, averaging more than 41 points a contest and a season low of 22. Portal’s defense, which has been stellar all season as well, will have its hands full as they attempt to slow down Calvary Day.
Portal will face a spread offense that is able to beat opponents multiple ways. They are fairly balanced over the course of the season, averaging nearly 230 yards passing and 195 yards rushing per game.
Senior quarterback Michael Peterson leads the offense with 21 touchdown passes while Derek Kirkland leads the ground attack with a 5.3 yards per carry average and 13 scores of his own. Peterson likes to spread the ball around as well with five different Calvary receivers recording 10 or more receptions on the year.
“We’re going to have to play the best game we’ve played all season,” Nesmith said.
While Calvary’s offense has been rolling, the Panthers (2-5-1, 2-2) defense has been stout all season as well, holding opponents to 16 points a game and has consistently held teams below their season scoring average.
However, Portal’s offense has struggled to get going this season as the rushing attack has sputtered. Quarterbacks Darius Huff and Evan Street have each tried to direct the ship but with little success.
To pull off what Nesmith described as a “monumental upset,” Portal will need its offensive line to provide holes for their multitude of running backs to exploit. The Panthers will also need to shorten the game by controlling time of possession and limiting the number of times Calvary’s offense has the ball.
Calvary’s 4-3 defense is led by linebacker Andre Wilson’s 40 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and Josh Imholz’s 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The Cavaliers have already locked up the subregion’s top seed and will play for the region championship next week while Portal is a longshot to make the playoffs and will need help in addition to pulling off an upset tonight.
Despite being seemingly outmanned tonight, Nesmith said his team is ready for the challenge.
“You never know what can happen. That’s why you line up and play,” he said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., at the Portal Athletic Complex.