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Portal hosts Toombs in regular-season finale

Toombs County (2-7) at Portal (2-7)
7:30 p.m., Today

Facts & Figures
    While a win doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot, a loss for Portal leaves no chance for reaching the postseason.

    Depth could play a factor as Toombs County has nearly twice as many players on their roster as Portal.

    In addition to winning themselves, Portal needs all its opponents this season to win to help their playoff cause.

    There aren’t many two-win teams around the state playing tonight with a chance to make the postseason on the line.
    Portal, however, is in just that situation as they take on Toombs County tonight in the regular season finale for both teams.
    “We’re fortunate to have the chance to play an AAA school with a chance to even make the playoffs,” Panthers head coach Jon Willoughby said. “It’s not a ‘win and you’re in scenario’ by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we have a solid, legitimate chance to be in if we win.”
    The Panthers, 2-7, are currently 26th in the Class A Public Power Poll that is used to determine playoff seeding for the state’s smallest classification. Only the top 16 teams make the playoffs, so Portal needs a win and then for the computer rankings to break their way to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.
    That, however, is all off-the-field concerns the Panthers’ players can’t concern themselves with. Their primary focus is defeating a Toombs County Bulldogs team that comes in with an identical 2-7 record but playing in Region 1-AAA.
    “They’re going to come in running the triple option and we’ve faced that each of the past three weeks,” Willougby said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got to stop their fullback. We want to stop all of it, obviously, but we have to stop him. As he goes, they go.”
    The Bulldogs come in on a six game losing streak and have given up an average of 42 points per game over that stretch. That porous defense will go up against a Portal offense that hasn’t scored more than 14 points since the second week of the season.
    The fact the Bulldogs play in a larger classification actually helps the Panthers playoff hopes as the power poll rewards wins in those types of games.
    “It’s always better when you have something other than pride to play for in the last game of the season,” Willoughby said. “We’re going to go out there and try to win and hopefully we’ll have practice on Monday.”
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Portal Athletic Complex.