By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Portal tries to get season turned around

    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers are ready to turn the season around after a 52-7 loss to Emanuel County Institute two weeks ago.
    After a much-needed bye week, the Panthers (0-3) worked on getting back to the basics. Interim head coach Matt Smith said his team’s spirits are high after a solid week of practice.
    The Panthers will play in their first home game of the season as Johnson County (1-4) rolls into the Portal Athletic Complex.
    “They are a lot like us and they run a very similar offense,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a very even matchup. This should be a fairly close game.”
    As the Panthers try to notch their first win of the season, here’s a few key factors to watch in tonight’s game.

    What to watch: Passing game
    Emanuel County Institute’s defensive front took advantage of the Panthers’ offensive scheme Sept. 11, making Portal one dimensional in the matchup. Coach Smith took notice and in the weeks leading up to the game against Johnson County Portal worked on passing the ball.
    Smith said against the tougher teams in the region, the Panthers will have to adjust to passing the ball effectively and not just rely on the team’s run game.
    “We really focused on the passing game this week,” Smith said. “We have to work on our passing and we have to take the pressure off of our offense. We don’t want to start throwing on 3-and-10 situations, but we want to mix it up a bit and maybe throw on 1-and-10. We want to pass on our time.”
    Smith also said the Panthers would get back to the north-and-south run game his players are accustomed to.

    Who to watch: Darius Huff
    The passing game will certainly be a factor in tomorrow’s contest, but the Panthers will still be without the services of starting quarterback Jake Brown. Against ECI, Brown followed through on a pass and hit an opposing player’s helmet.
    Smith said Brown sustained an injury during the pass. Brown is expected to be back next week, but against Johnson he will be out of action.
    That means Darius Huff will step into the quarterback position against the Trojans.
    “His hand is broken, but it has some swelling. He should be back next week,” Smith said when asked about Brown’s potential to return to the starting lineup. “(Darius Huff) played quarterback when he was a sophomore and he’s got some experience. He has some reps and some game experience.”
Key factor: Intensity
    There was a noticeable size difference between ECI and Portal. Smith said the change in size starts in the weightroom, but won’t happen overnight.
    Something the Panthers can change, however, is the intensity during practice.
    Smith said one of the key factors of today’s game will be his team’s intensity on the football field and overall effort.
    The Panthers spent the majority of the week practicing with an up-tempo style. Smith said a change in intensity will result in a change on the scoreboard.
    “Some things we just can’t change, but how we practice, that’s something we can change,” Smith said. “We have to get after it and not waste any days in practice. If we get after it that will make us a better team.”

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.