Burly running back-defensive lineman Brandon Porter enjoys his sensitive side

Brandon Porter brings a presence to the Blue Devils that is felt at team dinners as well as on the field.

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Brandon Porter turns to the Wa-Hi fans at Borleske Stadium and leads the cheers for the team with 24 seconds left in the game against Moses Lake last Friday. The Blue Devils won the game, 12-7, and travel to Yakima for a playoff game against Eisenhower Friday night.

WALLA WALLA — The earth doesn’t tremble when Brandon Porter takes a handoff from quarterback Michael Weisner and rumbles off tackle during a Big Nine Conference football game.


Perhaps it should, judging from the way he sheds would-be tacklers or crunches opposing ball carriers as a defensive lineman.


"For as big as he is (6-foot-2, 225 pounds), he’s one of the most explosive athletes we have," Wa-Hi coach Marc Yonts said. "He’s strong, and he’s fast.


"He’s a load when he’s carrying the ball," Yonts continued. "And he’s done it all for us. He’s played some receiver. He’s carried the ball. He’s blocked. He’s played the defensive line (including nose tackle). He’s moved around."


And Porter has been a major factor in some of the Blue Devils’ most memorable moments so far during their 5-2 Big Nine Conference battles.


There’s the amazing 28-point fourth quarter in a come-from-behind 35-21 victory over Richland.


And there’s last week’s fourth-quarter heroics to overcome a 7-6 deficit for a 12-7 victory over Moses Lake.


So, what memories stand out for the burly Brandon Porter?


He pondered the questions for several seconds before his face brightened and he answered: "Team dinners. Those are really fun. I like going over to a bunch of guys’ houses and eatin’ and grubbin’."


The dinners, scheduled by Blue Devils center Ryan James’ mother, take place each Thursday.


And Ryan James often highlights the dinners, Porter said.


"Ryan lightens the mood for everything. He’s the glue for our crew. He’s a funny guy," Porter said.


"The meals go over a wide range, from Mexican food to sub-sandwiches. Colton Arias’ mom had a good team dinner, with tamales, rice and beans. It was good."


Porter’s approach to the season’s best memories fits well with Yonts’ appreciation for him on the team.


"Brandon brings a lot of life to this team," Yonts said and smiled at the recollection. "He’s got an unbelievable personality and character.


"He’s a great football player," Yonts continued. "Yet, one of the biggest things he brings. in addition to that obvious talent, is that he keeps everything loose at practice, games or whatever.


"He keeps every one relaxed." Yonts said. "I think with any great team you have that. You have somebody that has a little bit of character and has a little bit of fun with everything and doesn’t take things too seriously.


"At the same time, he’s extremely competitive," Yonts continued. "He’s played very well for us. All that (being loose) stops once he crosses the sideline. In the locker room, on the practice field and on the buses, he’s fun to have around."


Porter smiles at such accolades from his coach.


"I kinda have a little character out here," he said. "It’s fun. We have a bunch of seniors on the team. We’re all friends. We hang out on the weekends and stuff.


"It’s just a joking atmosphere with everybody," he said. "We rag on guys a lot. Out here (at practice) it’s fun."


Porter, the son of Terry and Renee Porter, was born in Walla Walla. He attended Assumption, Prospect Point and Edison elementary schools. He attended Pioneer Middle School.


He has played baseball, basketball and football at all levels.


Last spring he chose track for the first time, and he became the Big Nine Conference district champion in the javelin and the shot put.


He plans to participate in track this spring, and has his eye on participating in track at the college level.


"I’ve had some interest from colleges," he said.


He plans to study physical therapy in college, and he has been preparing for that with a heavy load of science classes in high school.


In his spare time, Porter hangs out with friends on the football team, especially his fellow seniors.


"We usually go to one house, often Jake Crawford’s, and play video games and stuff like that," he said. "We usually play sports games like "Madden" and "NBA Live."


"I’m actually horrible at video games," Porter said. "Jake Crawford and Aaron Flippo are the guys to beat.


"I’m a little bit slow with my fingers," he said. "They’re a little bit faster than me."


Porter listens to country, hip hop and rap music.


"I like a guy named Drake," he said.


Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986)is a Canadian actor and (a rap) recording artist.


So, how about movies?


"I’m big on romance," he said, and, yes, he blushed. "I’ve got a sensitive side. I’m big on ‘The Notebook.’"


The Internet described the movie’s plot as "A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences."


One comment called it a "Heartwarming movie that makes your insides go mushy with emotions!!!"


Does Porter take ribbing from his teammates for this sensitivity?


He smiles.


"I get a lot of crap from the guys for liking romance movies," he said. "I knew that was coming. You can’t be a football player and like some sensitive movies without getting some crap."


Yes, he also enjoys action movies and thrillers.


And, if prodded, Porter does have vivid memories from the 2009 season on the gridiron.


"I’ll remember the Richland game," he said. "I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a varsity team that beat Richland. And it was nice to come back from a deficit like that."


But, he might add, those team dinners are really special.

Wa-Hi vs. Ike


WALLA WALLA — Wa-Hi travels to Yakima for its second meeting of the season with Eisenhower.


Wa-Hi tangled with the Cadets on week No. 2 of the season and dropped a 37-7 decision at Borleske Stadium.


Wa-Hi, a No. 3 seed, enters the regional playoff game with a 6-3 record overall. The Cadets, who won the Big Nine’s Cascade Division championship, are 9-0 on the year.


Nevertheless, Wa-Hi coach Marc Yonts and his Blue Devils look forward to the rematch.


"What a great opportunity for us," Yonts said. "You want to play the best. Right now, they’ve run the table. They’re ranked highly in the state. They’re the No. 1 seed out of our (division).


"Eventually, you have to play all of the good ones anyway, so it’s a great opportunity for us," he said.


"We didn’t play very well the last time we played them. But don’t take any credit away from them. They played well, obviously."


"We were a little shorthanded, and we didn’t play our typical brand of football," he said. "We made a lot of mistakes. That goes for coaching, too. I felt like coaching-wise we could have done some things differently, especially on defense."


Yonts feels like the Blue Devils learned from those mistakes and that they are playing good football, having won five-of-six games down the stretch, including two games featuring come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter.


Nevertheless, Yonts considers Ike to be a balanced team with plenty of offensive and defensive weapons.


"They present themselves as a running team because they have such a great running back (Joe Fuerst, a transfer from West Valley, with 1,406 yards on 201 carries with 18 touchdowns).


"But the truth of the matter is, they do have good balance," Yonts said. "The Lopez kid (quarterback James, 81-for-160 passing for 1,515 yards and 12 TDs, with 10 interceptions) is throwing the ball well.


"He has two receivers that are No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in yards per catch (Antonio Martinez 31-for-753, 24.3 yards per catch, with eight TDs and Asya Morioka 24-for-435, 18.1 yards per catch, with five TDs),’’ Yonts said.


"So, they’re big-play guys," he continued. "They’re big up front, with a big tight end, and a big fullback. Their skill kids and their quarterback all run real well."


Yonts points out that only Richland (in a 20-0 loss) slowed Fuerst, but in that game he made "big plays when he had to."


"They present a lot of problems for us defensively. We’ve got to defend real well," he said."


Wa-Hi will challenge the Cadets big-play capacity with running back Austin Schilling, who has rushed 156 times for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He averages 5.7 yards per carry.


Brandon Porter, a short-yardage option, has carried 44 times for 313 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 7.1 yards per carry.


Michael Weisner will shoulder the passing chores at quarterback. He has completed 92 passes in 169 attempts for 1,379 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Weisner lead the Big Nine with a 147.1 quarterback-efficiency rating.


With six games behind him, Gary Winston now leads the Blue Devil receivers with 26 catches for 426 yards and nine touchdowns. He averages 16.4 yards per reception.


Colton Arias, who returned from an injury last week to make a key catch that kept a final scoring drive alive, has 22 catches for 298 and four TDs.


"Offensively, the last time we played them, their pressure gave us a little bit of trouble," Yonts said.


"And we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. It’s a bad combination, them playing well and us struggling.


"But, you know, we learn from our mistakes," he added. "We’re playing good football, and we’re excited about the opportunity to go redeem ourselves."


The kickoff Friday at Zaepfel Stadium will be 7 p.m. Season passes will not be honored. Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $4 for students/seniors.

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