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Portal wraps with MC

Montgomery (1-8, 0-4) at Portal (2-6-1, 2-3)
7:30 p.m., Today
Portal Athletic Complex

    For the Portal Panthers, tonight’s game is a chance to end a disappointing season with a win for the seniors and a chance to build momentum as they prepare to enter the offseason.
    “I tell our team all the time time they’ll always remember their first game and their last game,” said Panther Head Coach David Nesmith, “and we want to send our seniors out on a high note.”
    The Panthers (2-6-1, 2-3) will face Montgomery County (1-8, 0-4) tonight in the final game of the 2013 campaign for both teams.
    “I know this is a cliché, but Montgomery County might be the best 1-8 football team in the state,” Nesmith said. “They are really improved over last year and even though they’ve won only once, they’ve had the opportunity to win two or three others.”
    The Eagles come in having lost four in a row after their only win over Jenkins County. Like Portal, Montgomery County has struggled offensively this season, averaging only 12.4 points per game. For comparison, Portal is averaging 10.4 points a game.
    Nesmith said the biggest challenge for the Portal defense will be contending with the size of Montgomery County.
    “They are as big of a football team as we’ve faced all year. They’ve got two offensive linemen who weigh 300 pounds,” he said.
    Portal’s defense, which has been stingy for most of the season, will face a wing-T offense from the Eagles. The Panther defense has allowed 159 points on the season, with nearly half of those coming in their games against ECI and Calvary Day. Excluding those two games, Portal is only allowing 12.4 points per game.
    “They’re a lot like we are this year,” Nesmith said of the Panthers’ opponent. “They’re a very young team who have had a lot of turnovers and have been making some mistakes. They are doing what young teams do which is trying to find a way to win and, like us, they’re looking to figure out the recipe to finish and win games.”
    The key to tonight’s game will be the Portal offense against the Eagle defense. More specifically, it’ll be the Panthers’ offensive line play that plays a big part in the outcome. If the line is able to open holes for the Portal running backs, they’ll be able to exploit an Eagle defense which surrenders almost 28 points a contest.
    “We’re young on the offensive line and they’ve been overmatched a lot this year,” he said of his offensive line. “They’ll be bigger and stronger next year when they come back a year older.”
    But before next season, the Panthers still have one more game, one more chance to send its seniors out with a victory.
    “We want to win for us, but we also want to be able to send our seniors out with a win,” Nesmith said.   
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 at the Portal Athletic Complex.