ATLANTA–Kevin Porter and his Fort Valley State football team are a unique outfit in the SIAC. Since Porter’s arrival two seasons ago they have been slow starters out of the blocks. In 2016 no one could have imagined them winning the SIAC championship. After a 1-3 start to the year in 2017, it looked like Albany State would have no competitors.
In typical Porter fashion, his team reeled off four consecutive victories. Despite losing to the Golden Rams in the Fountain City Classic, the Wildcats had already sealed another trip to the championship. So what rollercoaster ride will we have this year?
“Our window is open to continue to play well and play at a high level,” said Porter at the recent SIAC Media Day.
Fort Valley has the top rated returning quarterback in the conference. Slade Jarman was second in passing yards per game last year, second in total offense and first in efficiency. But he knows winning or losing boils down to just a few snaps.
“Got to work on execution more and I have to put the offense in the best position to capitalize on the plays that are being called,” Jarman said.
Four game gauntlet
Fort Valley State might start off slow again this season. They begin 2018 with a four-game road trip that doesn’t feature a cupcake in sight. The Wildcats will visit Florida A&M, Valdosta State, Miles College, and Benedict. Ouch!
“Starting out with FAMU there’s a lot of excitement for us, for our fans for their fans surrounding the game. It’s a good opportunity for us to go out and play a good football team that’s a division ahead of us,” said Porter.
Despite the tough schedule, however, these players believe in coach Porter. In two seasons he’s 1-1 in the SIAC Championship game, defying the odds and the prognosticators.
“Coach keeps us motivated, he’s a positive man. He’s just like one of us. He get’s hype, he get’s down, he get’s upset. He’s just like one of us. It’s fun playing for him, I’d do anything for him that he’d ask me to do,” says defensive lineman Malcolm Garrett. Garrett transferred in from South Carolina State to play for Porter.
If I’ve learned anything in the last three seasons covering the SIAC it’s this: don’t count out Fort Valley State.