Portland's regional battle with Springfield this week looms even larger with the Yellow Jackets dropping a 13-10 contest to Montgomery Central last Friday. The Panthers, along with the Indians, are tied for first place in the league with identical 3-1 records.
"Our fate is in our own hands," Portland coach Greg Cavanah said Sunday afternoon about the region race. "We have to win one of the last two games, (Springfield and Creekwood) to be in the playoffs. If we win both, we are region champs.
The Yellow Jackets come into this weeks' contest with a 4-3 overall record after losing to the Indians last week.
Springfield, under coach Dustin Wilson, finished the 2018 campaign with a 11-3 mark and advanced to the quarterfinals of the TSSAA playoffs.
Wilson returns tons of speed to this years' squad.
"Springfield runs more of a spread offense than in the past," Cavanah remarked. "We have to contain their speed "
Quarterback Kevontez Hudson directs and explosive offense with several running backs to hand the football off to including Kevontay Wade, Cale Jones, Mikie Neal and Christian Trujillo. Hudson has receivers Gabe Kelly, Keyshawn Robinson, Kamrin Garrett, and Martavias Johnson to throw to. The offensive line is anchored by Kevaris Lark, Tres Haley, Tristan Petit, and De'Marion Wynn.
Defensive, the Yellow Jackets have Neal, White, Haley, Garrett, Boyd, Kelly, Jones, Nate Kendrick, and Yonel Rodriquez seeing action.
"We are equal in size," Cavanah said. "They have a good kicking game (Luis Diaz) and we need to keep them out of field goal range."
The Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 37-7 road loss to Wilson Central before earning their first win over Clarksville 21-15. Springfield outlasted White House Heritage in their first region battle as Kevontay Wade complied 186 yards with three touchdowns in the win while Quarterback Kevontez Hudson added 120 through the air and gained 120 on the ground and two total scores. The Yellow Jackets defeated Station Camp 31-10 as Hudson had 142 total yards and a trio of touchdowns. In a 34-24 win over White House, White rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Springfield suffered a 42-12 homecoming setback to Marshall County before losing last week to Montgomery Central.
The Panthers are coming off a 37-7 loss at the hands of Trousdale County last Friday, but the next two weeks will determine postseason action for the Purple.
"We need to clean up our penalties and protect the football," Cavanah said. "We are preparing without Caleb (Mandrell). Cade (Box), the back-up quarterback, brings different things to the offense. The key for us is to read our keys and do what we are coached to do.