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Portal, Jenkins Co. look for 1st win in region opener

Jenkins County (0-4) at Portal (0-3-1)
7:30 p.m., Today
Portal Athletic Complex

    For the Portal Panthers, the second season starts tonight.
    After starting the season 0-3-1 including losses to a top 10 Johnson County team and the defending state champion Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs, the Panthers open up sub-region play against the 0-4 Jenkins County Eagles today.
    Despite the rough start to the season, the Panthers still control their postseason fate.
    "It's the start of a new season," Panthers Head Coach David Nesmith said. "It's the sub-region opener and both teams are looking for their first win of the year. Whoever gets it will have the upper hand in sub-region play and have a chance to get back in the mix."
    Nesmith has continued to stress to his team how close he sees them to reaching their goal of making the playoffs. He's reminded them that they've played four tough schools and been competitive in each one.
    "I hope they can take it to heart and play like they've got something to play for because we have a lot left to play for," he said.
    But to reach those goals, the first order of business is defeating the Eagles.
    "They're awfully big and they've got good athletes on each side of the ball," Nesmith said.
    Offensively, the Eagles will come out in a Wing-T while on defense, Nesmith expects the Eagles to mix things up with either a 5-3 or 3-5 defense.
    "Hopefully we'll be ready for that," he said.
    Portal, meanwhile, will continue to run their spread option that has seen a number of Panthers carry the ball on the ground. Nesmith said the young team still has a lot to clean up, but they're getting more consistent on offense.
    They've cut down significantly on the turnovers and penalties from early in the season and are continue to show improvement week in and week out.
    Even after giving up more than 450 yards and 42 points last week, Nesmith said he saw some good things from his defense that, until last week, had only given up 34 points all season.
    Nesmith is hoping for another big crowd after last week's turn out.
    "It's homecoming this week and we'd love a huge crowd out their cheering on our guys."
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 at the Portal Athletic Complex.