By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Nick Porter’s football career almost ended in the eighth grade. Playing quarterback very early that season, Porter said a “blindside” hit resulted in him suffering three broken fingers, a broken wrist and a fractured growth plate in his throwing hand.
“I can’t remember, it happened so quickly,” Porter said of the play Friday.
"Last year, towards the middle of the season, I saw McAlester was up big on one the opponents and said, ‘I really want to get back in it and see where I can go.’”
Now a senior, Porter had spent the last few years rehabbing from that injury, making 2013 both his first and last year playing for McAlester High School. Porter has been tabbed the second-string quarterback this year, and he played the first half of Monday’s junior varsity game at Ada, which the Buffs won 16-12.
“I want him to have fun playing, because he’s been there, and he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Buffs JV coach Austin Maddux said. “He came all summer, but to me, I think he can take away things from football that he can use the rest of his life, like learning how to work hard. He’s going to get what he puts into it.”
Though Porter spent the first 11 years of his life in Springdale, Ark., starting flag football in the fifth grade, he said his real introduction came when he moved to Jenks before starting the sixth grade. In Jenks, a Tulsa suburb with 13 state football championships, Porter learned how to be a quarterback, which would be the only position he’d ever play.
“Everyone kind of looks up to you when you’re on the field,” Porter said of playing QB. “They look to you for direction.
“Sportsmanship is probably the biggest thing I learned when I was young. Growing up in Jenks, you’re only really able to play one side of the ball.
Porter moved to McAlester during the summer before his eighth-grade year. His stepfather, Mark Rubertus, became medical director for the Choctaw Nation Health Center, and Porter enrolled at Puterbaugh Middle School.
“Everyone’s really friendly here,” Porter said. Of McAlester’s football program, he said, “Like Coach (Bryan) Pratt says, it’s one of the best in the state, and he’s a great coach.”
A quarterback who throws best when he’s running, Porter said he’s tried to take a page from Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who plays the same way. Porter said learning the Buffs’ no-huddle offense has been the trickiest part of this first year for him.
His favorite memory so far came during the Top of the World Scrimmage in August.
“Going up there, I was extremely nervous, and we were up against some 6A opponents,” Porter said of the scrimmage. “The first snap for me on JV, I had a 40-yard touchdown run thanks to all the teammates that blocked.”
Though JV football isn’t the same as varsity football, Porter said he’s seen no drop-off in commitment between the Buffs likely to play Friday night and those likely to play other nights of the week. And as both JV and freshman quarterbacks saw varsity playing time in 2012 — usually in the final minutes of blowout wins — Porter said he hopes to play well enough to do the same.
“I take it really seriously, because it’s kind of my reps for the season,” Porter said.
Once he graduates, Porter said he plans to go to college, most likely at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. His father, David Porter, is a corporate vice president at Microsoft, and Nick Porter said he plans to major in business as well.
“It’s just a great town,” Porter said of Norman. “Clean, close to Oklahoma City but kind of a little bit away.”
Porter also plays soccer, and he said he plans to play for the Buffs in the spring. Unlike in football, Porter said he usually plays a defensive position in soccer.
Porter said he’s enjoyed his time at MHS, making many new friends through football. His favorite class has been his “Service Learning” class, in which he and his classmates help out at other McAlester schools and do other community service projects as well.
“Working with the children, it’s the best, watching them look up to you,” Porter said. “When they finally understand something, it’s just a great feeling.”
Wanting to be a Buff pushed Porter to return to football. Now that he’s back, Porter wants his one season wearing black and gold to be a memorable one.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.