Kevin Porter and the Fort Valley State Wildcats are fresh off of their first win of the season over Clark Atlanta.
But the Wildcats face a tough road game against Benedict at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina. Benedict is coming off of a 42-6 win over Central State and is 2-1. The Wildcats are 1-2 in Porter’s first season with the Wildcats.
“This has been a tough transition for us with a new coaching staff coming in, but the first win proves that this is a capable football team,” Porter said. “We played very hard in the first two games of the season, and after two tough losses we showed the resilience in takes to win a football game. I am very confident that these guys will continue to fight.”
Benedict did not win a game last year, but head coach Mike White has turned things around in his second season at the helm. White was the head coach at Albany State before moving to Benedict.
“They are a much better football team than they were a year ago,” Porter said. “Coach White has been able to inject some resources into the program, and we know that we will have to continue to play hard and let the results take care of themselves.
Fort Valley State is giving up 372 yards per game, but Porter is more worried about some other statistics.
“I played for Robert Davis at Warner Robins High School, and he believed the numbers to worry about are scoring offense, scoring defense and turnovers,” Porter said. “We know that most teams will make some plays, but we are obviously giving up too many yards right now. We have to be able to get off of the field on third downs. If we can do that we can be successful.”
Fort Valley State has nine interceptions in three games — a number that excites Porter, who played defensive back throughout his playing days, which ended in the NFL. Senior Brian Walker leads the way with three interceptions.
“We knew coming in that we had a bunch of guys in the secondary coming back, and I think we have put them in a fun scheme to play, “ Porter said. “We are very happy with the way they have played so far.”
Porter expected some mistakes on offense when he decided to go with freshman quarterback Demontay Jones and move last year’s starter, Otis Brown, to receiver, but Jones is quickly showing that he is the player for the job. He threw three touchdowns, all to Brown, in the win over Clark Atlanta.
“Our goal was to put our best 11 on the field, and Demontay and Otis are two of those 11,” Porter said. “It definitely helps Demontay having Otis on the field, and they continue to grow every week.”
The running game struggled the first two weeks, but Jamari Clark ran for 85 yards against Clark Atlanta, while Chauncey Jackson scored the game-winning touchdown in the third overtime.
“We have a lot of good running backs, but right now we will go with those two, as well as Travis Richmond,” Porter said. “We, as a coaching staff, are starting to get a feel for who we can count on, and we are all growing together as a football team. It has been a process for all of us, and hopefully we will be playing our best football at the end of the season.”