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Portal faces region showdown at Jenkins County

    PORTAL — Last week was a tough one, but Portal is getting right back to business.
    The Panthers (0-6, 0-3 Region 3-A) ran into a buzz saw last Friday as Emanuel County Institute ruined homecoming by shelling out a 58-0 whipping, but Portal has already pushed the loss aside and is focused on tonight’s matchup against Jenkins County (1-6, 0-4).
    “Last week was a little disappointing, but we need to focus on bouncing back,” said Portal coach Cherard Freeman. “We haven’t put this season in the bag. We’re still going to go out there every week and battle for a win, and I was happy to see our guys come back Monday and have one of our best weeks of practice all year.”
    Also helping Portal will be the return of several starters on the offensive line.
    In Freeman’s first year as head coach, the Panthers have shifted to a triple option attack. Portal started off well, but a rash of injuries to an already small roster have crippled the Panthers in recent weeks. Now, with some reinforcement getting back on the field, Portal will try to get back on the right track.
    “I think that we’ve handled the transition well,” said Freeman. “We have a number of guys who run the ball well and (quarterback) Hunter Oglesby directs things well. Hopefully we’ll be able to put it all together.”
    The Eagles may be the best chance remaining for Portal to put one in the win column this season. Jenkins County took down Bryan County in the second week of the season, but the Eagles have been grounded since, losing their last five games – three by at least 20 points.
    While the offense regains its footing, the Panther defense — which has been solid for much of the season — will try to keep the struggling Jenkins County offense (11.8 points per game) in check.
    “Right now, we’re just trying to focus on our execution,” said Freeman. “We haven’t gotten the wins, but it’s not for a lack of hustle or effort. If we can minimize mistakes, we’re going to achieve the success we’re looking for.”

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.