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Portal travels to face Raiders

Game Plan
    KEEP-AWAY: Portal’s offense has only had one explosive output this season. It’s likely that they will have to find the end zone at least three or four times to keep up with the Savannah Christian attack. But if Portal can’t rack up the points, its next best option is to keep the ball away. Look for the Panthers to run plenty of clock and look for conservative first downs instead of selling out for big plays.

    JUST ANOTHER GUY: OK, That’s a lie. Savannah Christian’s Demetrius Robertson isn’t just another guy, but there are far too many threats on the Raiders’ offense to over-commit to neutralizing Robertson. Whether he’s running a route or taking a handoff, Portal’s defense will have to play solid assignment football, meaning that any number of Panthers will be responsible for individually taking care of Robertson on each play.

    PORTAL — The road doesn’t get any easier for the Portal Panthers tonight as they face their sixth consecutive opponent that will likely make the Class A state playoff field in November.
    Tonight, the Panthers (2-5, 0-3 Region 3-A) travel to the coast to take on Savannah Christian (6-1, 2-1).
    While Portal began the season with consecutive victories, it’s been all downhill from there. The low water mark came last week as Calvary dispatched the Panthers by a count of 49-0 during Portal’s homecoming. Miscues and turnovers have made some of the latest Panther scores look a bit ugly. They’ve been hard at work trying to patch the holes, but realize that some of the problems are external.
    “We’re still working to get better and play like we want to,” Portal coach Jon Willoughby said. “There are things we can do, but it’s tough to do them against some of the teams we’ve played. You look at some of those teams and they have the talent to cause a lot of problems for your team.”
    Tonight will be no different as the Raiders will welcome in Portal with one of the state’s most potent offenses.
    Aside from a 7-3 knock-down, drag-out brawl with Calvary Day two weeks ago, Savannah Christian —ranked sixth in the latest Class A private school power poll — has scored 23 or more in each game and has topped the 50-point mark twice.
    Featuring an option offense that can spring big plays at a moment’s notice, the Panther defense will have to stick to assignments and make fast decisions just to slow down the Raiders.
    Of course, much has also been made of the Raiders’ newest aerial threat.
    After rulings, disputes and threats of lawsuits had prevented him from taking the field in Savannah Christian’s first seven games, Demetrius Robertson – Alabama commit and one of the top rated receivers in the country — will suit up tonight.
    “He’s a big-time player, but we aren’t changing our preparations,” Willoughby said. “Savannah Christian does what they always do. (Robertson) will be in there and he’ll be tough to stop, but he’s a good kid and I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to play.”
    Evan Street and Tyler Budgett have both shown the ability to throw the ball and Trent Thomas has become a dangerous receiving threat, but the Panthers’ base option offense just hasn’t had the blocking that it needs to consistently build drives and put points on the board.
    Facing a big and aggressive SCPS defensive front, a lot will have to go right for the Panthers to change that trend tonight.
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.