By Curtis Marlin Portland Leader
Portland hopes to have a successful home opener this Friday as Hillwood comes to town for a non-region contest.
The Hilltoppers, under third year coach Kurt Page, finished the 2016 season with a 4-7 record and lost in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs to Maplewood.
Hillwood spent the past four seasons in Class 4-A but was moved to 5-A after the TSSAA reclassification last fall. The Hilltoppers are in the same region with Gallatin, Beech, Hillsboro, Glencliff and Hunters Lane.
Friday night’s opponent opened the 2017 season by losing to Columbia Central 40-0.
Portland coach Greg Cavanah was impressed with what he saw on film.
“Hillwood is big, quick, and aggressive,” Cavanah said Sunday afternoon. “Their linemen have more speed, they throw the football a lot, and their backs run with balance and speed.”
Quarterback Hale Page was an all-region performer in 2016 after throwing for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdown strikes. Page had 97 yards on eight completions in the loss to Columbia. Zion Tate also got snaps at quarterback and was six of 15 for 63 yards.
Trevon Wade caught a pair of passes for 48 yards to lead the receiving corps. with Kyle Carder contributing 44 yards in receptions and Eric Kinnard recorded 36.
Defensively, the Hilltoppers run a 4-2-5 defense headed by Daniel Bonner, an all-region pick in 2016.
Portland lost their season opener at Warren East by a 21-0 score and rolled up 196 total yards on offense. The defense played well but gave up nearly 300 yards on three plays.
“We have to put pressure on their quarterback,” Cavanah remarked. “We can’t give up the big play. On offense, we have to protect the football and continue to play good defense.”
Starting PHS quarterback Brandon Meador suffered injuries in a truck accident Saturday and junior Kobe Dutcher was injured in the Warren East game. Both are out indefinitely.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Memorial Field/ Edgar Johnson Stadium.