The 2020 season has started out much like the past few football seasons have started for the Portal Panthers. The Panthers opened the season with a 40-15 loss to Montgomery County, and followed that up with a 36-7 loss at Wheeler County last week.
The Panthers also had similar games the past two weeks, as they hung around in the first halves of both games, but when the wheels started to come off, they came off in a bad way for Portal.
“Last Friday was a lot like the Montgomery County game,” said Portal coach Matt Smith. “We scored early, and were within a touchdown, and then they scored and things just kind of snowballed from there.”
Smith feels the Panthers problems aren’t necessarily with their personnel, but rather with staying focused for an entire game.
“Our problem is more with consistency and composure,” said Smith. “We have a few drives where we move the ball, and look pretty good. Then we have a penalty or miss a block, and we have to punt. Same thing on defense. We make a couple nice plays, then we have a lapse and they score a big play. Those are things we are trying to work on.”
“When we do what we are supposed to do, we do it well,” said Smith. “It showed in both the Montgomery County game, and the Wheeler County game. The problem is when the opponent makes a big play, we can't just feel defeated. We have to be able to fight back and respond better.”
The Panthers will be looking to fight back, and respond this Friday as they host 0-2 Treutlen County. The Vikings have lost by similar scores as the Panthers in their first two games. Treutlen lost their opener 30-6 to Lanier County, and then lost 31-7 last week to Montgomery County.
“We feel like we match up pretty good against Treutlen,” said Smith. “They had a similar score against Montgomery County, and are struggling with their numbers this year in football. They are pretty young at spots like we are. It’s going to be a game that will probably come down to who can take advantage of the other team’s mistakes.”
The Panthers should have a good crowd on hand for the game, as it will be senior night as the Panthers salute their 8ight senior players.
“Like a lot of other teams throughout the state we decided to hold senior night early this year,” said Smith. “With the COVID-19 issues we wanted to make sure our seniors had the opportunity to have a special night. These seniors have meant a lot to our program, and I am glad we get a chance to salute them Friday.”
Portal and Treutlen are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start in Portal Friday night.