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Trojans host Portal

    PORTAL — The Portal Panthers will look to break out of their offensive funk tonight as they go for their first win of the season when they travel to take on the Trojans of Johnson County.
    The Panthers (0-1-1) have been plagued by turnovers and untimely penalties throughout their first two games, but Portal coach David Nesmith sees signs for hope.
    “We’re getting close,” he said, “but we’ve got to keep plugging away. We’ve got to keep working and getting everyone on the same page.”
    Portal (0-1-1) will continue to try to run the ball with their option attack led by quarterback Evan Street and running backs Casey Jones and Fred Holloway.
    A primary focus of practice this week has been ball security with coaches stressing again and again the importance of not turning the ball over.
    In addition to their ground game, Nesmith said they’ll look to take advantage of opportunities to strike through the air.
    “Johnson County’s going to come out with a 4-man front and four linebackers,” Nesmith said. “So with that, we’re going to try and take what they give us.”
    The Trojan defense hasn’t allowed point all season.
    While the Panthers have struggled offensively, the defense has been outstanding only allowing one touchdown through two games against teams with three times as many players. That defense will be put to the test against the Trojans’ (2-0) varied offensive game plan.
    After two weeks of facing predominantly run-oriented teams, the Panthers will get their first taste of a team that likes to throw the ball often and have been successful at it thus far in the early season. Johnson County has scored 40 and 43 points in their first two games.
    “They have a lot of offensive looks they’ll throw at us, so we’ve had to work really hard to make sure we know where we’re supposed to be on each formation,” he said.
“Our defensive backs are excited,” Nesmith said. “For the first two weeks they’ve been kind of waiting for something. This week, with what Johnson County does, they’ll be involved on every play.”
    Despite the early season struggles, Nesmith sees potential for this squad.
    “Our kids realize that we could easily be 2-0 or at worst 1-1,” he said. “It’s not what the other teams have done to us but what we’ve done to ourselves. They’re eager to try and fix it.”
    Even with all that Johnson County will throw at them, Nesmith has stressed to his team to focus on what they can control.
    “I tell them not to worry about the other team,” he said. “If we make sure and do what we need to do, we’ll be fine.”
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Wrightsville.