STAFFORD — Strong-legged Colonial Forge senior Mike Porter battles a couple of unusual problems with his football teammates: They don’t get his name right and their return coverage sometimes appears lackluster.
At least those problems stem from the Eagles’ incredible faith in Porter’s ability. Close to perfect so far this year — 9 for 10 on field goals, 14 for 15 on extra points and a near shoo-in to boot kickoffs into the opponents’ end zones — Porter perhaps has become too automatic.
So automatic that Colonial Forge coach Karl Buckwalter dubbed him Gus, after the main mammal in the 1976 Disney movie of the same name. Gus was a Yugoslavian mule who could kick a football 100 yards; Mike is a 6-foot-2, 160-pound human who would love to someday have a shot at a Stafford County-record 54-yard field goal.
“If we’re going for a field goal, Gus is what we call him,” Buckwalter said. “We all scream, ‘Gus,’ instead of Mike when it’s time for the kicking team.”
Porter also has been so automatic that Buckwalter noticed a lack of hustle from the Eagles (off to a 4-1 start) when he watched recent game film.
“I noticed that when he kicks off, the rest of the kids looked like they were thinking it was kind of a break time,” Buckwalter said. “I know he kicks in the end zone almost every time and his directional kicking is excellent, but you can’t assume.”
Porter’s main sport in the fall is cross country, and he admits as much. “Some [fellow students] know that I am the kicker, but more know that I’m a runner who just happens to kick.”
In running, Porter finished 10th in the state Group AAA cross country meet as a junior. That same academic year, he was part of 3,200-meter relay teams that finished second in the state in indoor track and fifth in outdoor track. Porter’s junior year was also when he decided to kick and punt for the varsity football team.
As Buckwalter had done when he coached at McLean High School from 1990-98, he looked toward the soccer team to find a kicker. Porter was a forward on Colonial Forge’s varsity team as a freshman and sophomore, but hasn’t played competitive soccer since. Assistant principal Nickolas Mammarella’s son, Tony, had been a teammate of Porter’s so they helped with the recruiting.
Despite practicing no more than once a week for football (on Thursdays, as long as the cross country team’s not working out), Porter has been able to become more comfortable as a football player. He kicked a personal-best five field goals in a win over Courtland this year, but his career-long field goal remains 42 yards last year against Brooke Point. He said he kicked a 50-yarder this past summer at Ray Guy’s Kicking Camp in Fairfax.
“I’m getting used to football,” Porter said. “It’s just a matter of progressing. I don’t practice much, so it’s all pretty much down to the game.
“In the eighth grade, I was a wide receiver and quarterback, but the biggest thing is not getting hurt. I got a few hits that year and that kind of kept me away from playing in my ninth-grade year.”
Porter has yet to determine a list of possible colleges to attend next year, but he said he’s most likely to run cross country at whatever college he chooses. He might only play football if that helped him get onto a cross country team.
“Track’s addicting,” Porter said. “You start progressing and don’t want to stop. Running’s definitely the first thing for me, but the football has been exciting.”