Kevin Porter is no stranger to rivalries and their meaning to the teams involved. After all, Porter played for Warner Robins in high school, Auburn in college and the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.
Porter will get his first taste of the Fort Valley State-Albany State rivalry when his Wildcats team takes on the Rams at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Columbus’ Fountain City Classic.
“Obviously, I’ve been a part of some really big rivalries in my past with Warner Robins-Northside, Auburn-Alabama and the Chiefs-(Oakland) Raiders, so I understand what it means to play your rival and all that’s connected to that,” Porter said. “I think our team understands, as well. We’ve just got to focus on the things that we can control. We can’t really control what’s going on with the people outside of our unit, so we just try to stay focus and continue to do what we’ve done.”
The Wildcats can control their own championship fate Saturday. The winner of Saturday’s game earns a spot in the SIAC championship game as the East Division champion.
The Wildcats are 3-6 overall and 3-3 in the SIAC, while the Rams are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
“It should (get the players excited),” Porter said. “For us, it’s just a function of focusing on the task at hand. We’ve got to be able to go out and match the intensity from Albany State. They have a good football team, but we’ll just keep working.”
In Porter’s first season, the Wildcats have gotten better as the season has progressed. Fort Valley State enters Saturday’s game riding a two-game winning streak.
Albany State leads the all-time series 33-32-2, and the Rams are 20-6 in the games that have been played as part of the Fountain City Classic.
“We said that we wanted to be playing our best football at the end of the season, and we wanted to kind of stick to plan and not panic and start changing a bunch of stuff,” Porter said. “The kids have practiced hard, and they are starting to see some results. It’s a challenge, but we believe in what we’re doing, and we understand that it’s going to take time to fully get what we’re doing integrated. But we stuck to the plan.
“The kids have not given up on it, and that’s encouraging. Once you can get those things done, you’ve got a chance to have some success, and that has shown over the last couple of the weeks. Really over the last month or so, we’ve had really good practices. We haven’t won every game, but we’ve had really good weeks of practice. And that’s helped us.”