Published in The News-Herald
November 7, 2019
Jack Porter was angry, hurt, frustrated and maybe even a little embarrassed.
Thrust into the starting lineup as an undersized freshman safety against one of the top offenses in Northeast Ohio, Porter trudged off the field after giving up a touchdown in Kenston’s 70-14 annihilation at the hands of high-powered Medina in a 2016 game.
“I remember he gave up a long run and a touchdown pass,” said Kenston coach Jeff Grubich. “He came off the field nearly in tears. I pulled him aside and said, ‘Listen, man. You’re the best we’ve got. Keep your head up. Next year, you’re going to be THE man.”
Boy, Grubich hit the nail on the head that night with his prophesy.
Fast-forward to today, and Grubich’s words have proven to be spot-on.
As Kenston (8-2) heads into a Division III, Region 9 playoff quarterfinal on Nov. 8 against undefeated New Philadelphia (10-0), it does so with Porter leading the charge as the school’s all-time leading rusher, one who is with All-Ohio honors.
The 5-8, 160-pound freshman who was getting exploited by bigger, stronger and more experienced players as a freshman is now one of the most decorated players in Kenston football history, not just because of his personal accolades, but also because of his role in leading Kenston to its first state championship in the 2018 season.
“Yeah, it was frustrating as a freshman because I’m a competitor,” said Porter after a recent practice at Bomber Stadium. “But ever since I was in eighth grade I wanted to be an All-Ohio player, flip the script and bring a winning culture back to Kenston.
“That culture we have here now is more important than any individual statistic I have.”
Porter set the bar high well before he was wearing a varsity helmet with a star on it. Well before high school, he had a dream of attacking Kenston’s career rushing yardage list, which at the time was topped by Ken McClintock.
Grubich knew early that Porter was special, no matter where he put him on offense.
“He’s just a dynamic football player,” Grubich said. “He can run between the tackles. If you jam the box on us, we’ll run outside zone and he’ll get the edge. Put him in the slot and isolate him on a ‘backer, he’s going to win that matchup every time.
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