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Portal travels to Calvary Day

    The Portal Panthers have arguably one of its toughest test to date when the team travels to M.C. Anderson Field to take on the 5-1 Calvary Day Cavaliers.
    The Cavaliers, 1-1 in Region 3-A, are coming off their first loss of the season to Savannah Christian, 14-3.
    Portal (1-5, 1-1) suffered a tough defeat the last time out against Savannah Country Day, 21-14. SCD, which runs a similar offense to the Cavaliers, torched Portal’s defense for 323 yards on the ground.
    The Cavaliers were previously ranked as high as No. 3, according to the Georgia Sports Writers Association Prep Football poll. However, after an upset loss to Savannah Christian CDHS is now ranked No. 9.
    “They have several good running backs and they like to spread you out and make you use the whole field,” interim head coach Matt Smith said.
    As the Panthers try to avoid dropping to 1-6 on the season today, here are a couple of notes for the game:
    What to watch: Big play
    The Panthers like to run a 4-3 defense, but often stack the box against run-heavy teams. Against Calvary Day, Portal’s defense will have their hands full.
    Cavaliers’ quarterback Salvador Calderon is the type of dual threat quarterback the Panthers struggled against last week.
    So far this season, Calderon has thrown for 412 yards and three touchdown with one interception. Calderon can also hurt you with his legs. The junior quarterback averages 8.5 yards per carry and has 590 yards on the season.
    In order to be successful against Calvary Day, the Panthers will have to avoid giving up a big play to Calderon.
    “When you give up a big play it hurts mentally, especially high school kids. If you get beat on a big play, or a big pass or big run before you know it, it's like a snowball effect. We just gave up too many mistakes (last week),” Smith said.
    Who to watch: Huff/Drummer
    Starting middle linebacker Darius Huff and weakside linebacker Billy Drummer will be the players to watch in this matchup.
Huff and Drummer will have to contain the Cavaliers’ offensive attack and slow down the run game by playing solid, technically sound football.
    Smith said the Panthers have to have big games from Huff and Drummer in order to have a competitive ball game against the Cavs.
    “They’re a really good team and we need those two guys to play well for us,” Smith said.
    Key factor: Penalties
    The Panthers moved the ball well on offense last week, however, a fourth down stop just a few yards away from the endzone right before halftime changed the dynamic of the game.
    Portal didn’t punt against Savannah Country Day, but they did turn the ball over on downs twice in the second half.
    Against a stout Cavaliers team, the Panthers can’t afford any mistakes.
    “We’ve come a long way on offense and we just have to learn how to capitalize,” Smith said. “We had a fourth-and-two which ended up being a fourth-and-seven due to a false start. We’re a team that can’t overcome those kind of mistakes.The boys have worked hard and played well, we just have to show it in the win column.”