It had all the earmarks of a disaster in the making.
A week before the start of last year’s spring practice, Amite football coach Alden Foster learned his projected starting quarterback opted to give up the sport to concentrate on baseball.
Because of the timing, Foster and his coaching staff didn’t have ample time to deliberate what direction they wanted to go to fulfill the team’s most pressing need.
Rising junior Reginald Porter, a starting cornerback the season before and with limited junior varsity experience at quarterback, received Foster’s endorsement for the job and the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder has rewarded the faith the staff placed in him.
When No. 4 Amite (13-1) lines up against No. 2 St. Charles Catholic (14-0) for the Class 3A state championship, they will do so with Porter at quarterback, where he’s gone 23-3 as a starter with two district championships and a pair of deep playoff runs to his credit.
The two teams meet in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association-State Farm Prep Classic at 3 p.m., Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
“I felt I did alright last year, but it wasn’t great,” said Porter, whose father, Reginald Porter Sr., played at Southern. “I didn’t really play the position at a good level. I felt I’ve done better this year.”
Foster noticed an immediate difference in Porter entering the offseason. With a year of playing experience to his credit, Porter went about trying to raise his game, whether that was outside with additional throwing and running, or inside through film study to gain a better perspective of Amite’s spread offense or defensive pass coverages.
“Last year, he kind of got thrown into the position,” said Foster, 43-8 in his fourth season at his alma mater. “He made a promise to me and said he would be a better quarterback in the spring, and he worked extremely hard to do it, and the numbers speak for themselves.”
Amite split its first two games, including a 17-16 loss to Class 5A Ponchatoula, before launching into a 12-game winning streak with a 39-0 victory over Hammond.
Porter has been among the key components for an offense that averages 34 points per outing. The Warriors have scored 30 points or more eight times, including last week’s 30-6 semifinal win over Marksville.
Porter accounted for more than 300 yards in that game (168 passing, 139 rushing) to push his season totals in past 3,000 total yards. He’s passed for 2,001 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 1,339 yards and scored 20 TDs.
“It’s fun when you have a lot of players that can make plays,” Porter said. “I just wanted to do better this year as far as throwing the ball and learning the offense. My strength is running the ball. If a play breaks down, I always have my feet to rely on and make a play.”
That’s not to suggest Porter has totally abandoned his defensive roots. One of the conditions Porter accepted the quarterback job under was that he wouldn’t have to relinquish his starting cornerback duties, where he earned honorable mention Class 3A All-State status last season.
For Porter, who had one of his two interceptions in last week’s semifinal win, it was his way of trying to uphold his end of the bargain and help Amite to its first state final since winning the 2004 crown.
“It means a lot to us because we’ve been playing together since we were little,” Porter said of Amite’s 23-member senior class. “It means a lot to end our senior year in the state championship game with a win. That’s what we’re trying to do.”