It’s the time of year where, with media days and the start of preseason practices, the same words phrases roll off the tongues of both coaches and players.
“I really like the effort.”
“I’m working hard.”
“We’re not where we want to be, but we’ll get there.”
“I’m bigger, faster, stronger.”
“Sorry, we’ve switched practice time due to teacher meetings.”
The senses of old scribes get dulled. Which occasionally makes it challenging to generate the brain power to find a creative way around those questions.
I blame it on the heat, but if you want age as an excuse, I can offer that too.
Sometimes, though, there’s someone who just brings you to attention.
First, to set it up:
Hilldale’s quarterback battle – in June the main players were Johnnie Duroussette and Mike Oeser is a five-player battle.
You’ve heard about Durossette and Oeser early this summer. The former is a junior, the latter a sophomore. Hornets head coach David Blevins throws a pair of freshmen in there in Austin Fletcher and Caynen David, yet just by being freshmen, the typical odds of emerging from a crowd from the ninth grade are longer and harder. But Blevins’ theme so far is maximum competition at every position.
The eye test may separate, and so might film and coaches discussions – ultimately a combination of all will.
But this week, I found some separation from the repetitive catch phrases.
Meet Melchesidech Porter. If you have trouble saying that name, let him help you by breaking it down to syllables.
“It’s Mel — which is pronounced like mill, as in wind mill, keys — like car keys, uh — like you’re dumbfounded, and deck — like a deck of cards,” he said.
Google him, and like with many kids these days in the digital world, they have their own highlight sites. You might see the name Jay accompanying those highlights.
Let him explain.
Jay is for the casual passer-by. If you’re going to be around him, close to him — players, family —it’s Melchesidech.
“In ninth grade I determined anyone that was my brother — football player, wrestler, was going to know me by that name,” he said. “At Hilldale, that’s football because there’s no wrestlers at Hilldale.”
He told me I could call him Jay, so long as it was Melchesidech in the paper.
Young man, I’ll go with the challenge and hopefully, get over my tendency to stumble over that second syllable with a “cuh” like I did when we talked. It’s “keys.” Duly noted with a caveat. Newspaper style generally requires second references in stories to be last names, unless people with similar names are mentioned in the same story. In that case, first names are incorporated.
He’s actually Melchesidech Jr., named after his dad. The name was derived from the king and priest mentioned in the 14th chapter of Genesis. In the book of Hebrews, Jesus Christ is identified as “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedeck,” which depending which Bible you have, is sometimes spelled with a Z and k. There’s a slight difference with this young man’s spelling from another version.
But the intent is the same in any case.
“It’s a very powerful name,” Porter notes.
How powerful a quarterback Porter is will be determined. His clips from playing on the Broken Arrow JV are worth a look. He participated through spring ball and into 7-on-7 drills at Owasso. He was at Miami in 2017 and was thrust into action against Hilldale as a freshman. He threw for 158 yards but had little help in a 68-8 loss (he was Jay in the boxscore).
He said a sick grandfather was the impetus for the family moving to the area this summer. His dad got a job and moved here.
It hasn’t been without regret.
“I miss my horses,” he said, 24 in all, on a 40-acre lot he now visits maybe a couple of times a week. He offered to give me all their names, but we settled on his favorite, a chestnut quarter horse named Cash.
As for football, it’s been a blast.
“Coach Blevins, he’s been amazing. We moved here, he’s helped us out and educated me with the football program,” noting as well that offensive coordinator Edwin Starts and quarterbacks coach Kaleb Harris have also been helpful.
And he’s got an assessment of his competition.
“I’ll tell you, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination,” he said. “There’s like five of us fighting it out. I’m learning the system and it’s taking everything I can to be what I want to be.”
Blevins has a feel for the guy.
“Pretty talented, strong kid, really fast, has a strong arm, but he’s got to tweak it and get a little more touch on the ball,” Blevins said.
“The funny thing is, when he got here it really elevated everyone’s work ethic and play. He’s not going to come in here and take the job. He’ll have to earn it.”
Porter’s view of himself, outside of himself? “Great potential, has things he needs to fix, has a good perspective of the field, great character, wonderful leader,” he said.
Certainly confident.It very well could be in the name.
“It’s a powerful name,” he said.
But at Camp Hilldale, the head coach, not the high priest, has the final call. If by chance it isn’t Porter, he’ll have to be somewhere. He’s good interview material.