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Portal faces subregion rival Montgomery

    Portal will try once again to break into the win column tonight as the Panthers travel to Mt. Vernon to take on Montgomery County at 7:30 p.m.
    As has been the case for the last three years, Portal has competed in almost every game, only to fall short in the closing minutes.
    The Panthers narrowly missed on opportunity to win in Week 2 against Metter and have been close at halftime in all four contests.
    Tonight, Portal should have a good chance to find that elusive victory as it takes on an Eagle team that shut out Bryan County last week, but has had its own struggles lately.
    Montgomery County allowed 34 and 35 points, respectively, in losses to Calvary Day and Jeff Davis. That should provide some welcome relief for the Panthers who have managed just five touchdowns this season while facing stout defenses such as Johnson County and Metter.
    Depth has been the Achilles’ heel for Portal this season.
    Already battling low numbers and a roster full of underclassmen that lack the experience of many opponents, the Panthers took another hit two weeks ago when Nolan Clark — anchor on both the offensive and defensive lines — went down against Claxton. Last week brought the news that Clark had torn the ACL in his right knee and is now lost for the season.
    Combine other bumps and bruises with a team that is still coming together under first year head coach Cherard Freeman and it is clear that Portal will have to claw for every win it can get.
    One bright spot for the Panthers has been the successful transition into their new triple option offense.
    Although the scoring drives have been few and far between, Portal has managed a touchdown on their opening drive in three of its four games.
    Junior quarterback Hunter Oglesby looks more comfortable making the reads and pitches with each passing week, and Devon Spells provides a powerful running threat from his spot at B-back.
    The key to finally breaking through will be finding a way to keep that early success going and give the Panther defense — which has done a great job of keeping the team in games — a lead to protect.
    Regardless of their record, tonight brings new life for the Panthers. Montgomery County is the first opponent on Portal’s sub-region schedule, and a good showing against the likes of Montgomery, Jenkins County and Wheeler County in the coming weeks could earn the Panthers a spot in the region play-in round and an opportunity to make a long-awaited return to the postseason.