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Blake Porter is Hart's centerpiece

Posted: November 27, 2013 10:45 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2013 10:45 p.m.

Hart senior offensive lineman Blake Porter is three-year starter who anchors an offensive line that protects a talented and highly productive unit.

 

Where Hart High’s offensive line was packed with experience last year and full of confidence, the unit is in many ways the opposite of that this season.

Hart senior center Blake Porter has made sure that’s the case.

And a newfound confidence has made all the difference in the world for this Hart football team on the verge of turning a disappointing season into a potential championship-game appearance.

“It’s definitely different with our whole O-line this year just because we’re a lot less entitled and we know we have to work for everything we’ve got,” says Porter, who committed to the Northern Arizona University football in July.

He’s a third-year varsity starter on the offensive line and he’s a second-year starter on the defensive line.

Porter is one of two returning starters to the O-line after the rest of last year’s lineup graduated, leaving the 6-foot, 265-pounder as the veteran of the group.

He and the Hart Indians are preparing to face West Torrance on Friday night at College of the Canyons beginning at 7 p.m. in a CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinal game.

If Hart wins, it will play in its first CIF championship game since 2007.

Porter says a big reason why the team came this far is due to a shift to a blue-collar, tough-minded approach.

The senior lineman tried to personally instill that philosophy.

“He’s a major part. He’s the leader on there,” says Hart head coach Mike Herrington of Porter. “He makes calls and runs calls and directs the other linemen where to go.”

With the veteran title placed on Porter this year came a bigger responsibility and more pressure to guide a unit of young players.

The 18-year-old with long, wavy, blonde hair doesn’t say much until he really needs to.

A player like him who benches 400 pounds and can dominate on both sides of the ball doesn’t need to say anything either way.

He’s literally the centerpiece to a unit that serves as the front line of one of the most explosive offenses in the state.

Hart is averaging 504 offensive yards per game this year, which is fourth in California, according to Maxpreps.com.

In the playoffs, the 10-2 Indians have been particularly strong in the ground game, amassing 278 rushing yards in a win over Paso Robles two weeks ago and another 364 rushing yards in last week’s win over Palos Verdes.

A big part of that was the stellar play of Hart running back Connor Wingenroth.

The other aspect of it were the guys up front.

“We all started playing a lot better together,” Porter says of the two playoff wins. “We’re all doing our jobs, doing our responsibilities. It wasn’t like guys would be on a different page, things like that. That messes you up if one guys messes up his responsibility.”

And that’s only half of Porter’s impact on the team.

He has also developed into a dominant defensive tackle who has given opponents all kinds of troubles up the middle.

As to whether his strength is on offense or defense, Herrington said, “It’s hard to say. Coaches have said he’s dominant on both sides and I agree. He’s one of the top lineman we’ve ever ahead.”

Porter leads the team with six sacks, four of which came in one game against West Ranch on Oct. 11.

He also has 57 total tackles this year and has developed a strong enough reputation to draw double teams and extra blockers in the middle.

“His stats will never jump off the page for you,” said Hart defensive coordinator Patrick Dietz. “But he’s one of those guys where he jumps out to you in the film room.”

And yet Porter knows how things can go south for an entire team during a seemingly unstoppable run.

He was there in 2011 and 2012 when Hart finished third in the Foothill League and lost in the second round of the playoffs.

This year, Hart lost back-to-back games after an 8-0 start to finish the regular season third place in league again.

But things shifted in the postseason. Hart has been given new life, and the team is playing with the type of energy that is needed in win-or-go-home games.

“We know we’ve got to work hard,” Porter says. “It’s not going to happen like last year where we lose.”

dagnew@signalscv.com

661-287-5530

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